Junk Food

Way back when, The Amazing Race was my favorite reality show. A little while after that, Top Chef became my favorite reality show. So when I heard about a new talent competition that would meld the two concepts, I was extremely excited about it. Nothing is guaranteed, however, and as I said back then, a fantastic concept can still fall apart in its execution.

Around the World in 80 Plates fell apart in its execution.

Where to begin with the horrifically poor decisions that were built into the framework of this show? How about with the biggest one? Towards the end of each episode, each team would create a meal for local diners, and the diners would vote on which team was their favorite. Then the losing team would have to vote amongst themselves to decide who got eliminated. Did you catch that? This show that is ostensibly supposed to be about cooking talent hinged entirely on a Survivor-style popularity contest. That is not only a jaw-droppingly terrible idea, but it was one that the contestants had no idea how to deal with, making it a stupid process as well as antithetical to what should have been the show's point.

In one episode, the losing team comprised four chefs, three of which had made some critical error in the cooking challenge. So what happened? They voted off the guy who had done everything right. In another episode, blazing idiot John voted in such a way as to put the sole power of elimination into the hands of someone who could have easily turned around and voted John off. Luckily for him, the other contestant was a blazing idiot as well.

With the winners decided by local diners and the loser chosen by the contestants themselves, hosts Curtis Stone and Cat Cora had little to do but stand around, look pretty, and spout trite exposition and admonishments. You'll also notice that I haven't mentioned a thing about the Amazing Race-style travel component to the show, and that's because it was so underdeveloped as to be almost meaningless.

There's a kernel of a good show hidden underneath all this dross, but you'd really have to dig for it. Anything good was buried under an avalanche of poor casting, poor challenge design, and poor rule structure. Top Chef may be starting to show the strain of old age, but at least it had several good seasons first. This show, on the other hand, was fatally flawed the minute it left the gate. While it's not beyond saving with a major overhaul, I won't be sticking around to find out.

Around the World in 80 Plates: C-


Post a Comment

Copyright © Slice of Lime