I'm picky about my reality tv pleasures. In a truly nonsensical, random way. In past, some I have loved for a season (Project Runway) and some I have never watched and, I daresay, never will (Survivor) or perhaps just one episode every few years (American Idol). About three years or so ago, I injured my back, and was flat on it for a few weeks. I watched every single episode of the Danny Bonaduce trainwreck and the one about the guy who played Peter Brady. They passed the time, as did reading two whole Harry Potter novels in a few days each. And I've always been a big fan of reality-like tv in The Dog Whisperer and Mythbusters.
When I get most riled up is when I close the gap between reality tv and reality as such programming seeks to do as a main directive. I get angry with Gordon at liars. I get flabbergasted by the disgusting sight of rotten food or thieving managers. And I get excited when kind people have good things happen. But I can also generally keep a distance, not falling entirely into the pit of reality tv provocations. So even as I want to babble about "Did you see the one where the Italian restaurant in NY has that big son who thinks he's in the mafia?" and cringe that the episode fulfilled every stereotype of NY Italians I can think of, I simultaneously am quite aware of how the structure of the program and Ramsay's tv persona are entirely aimed at provocation and manipulation to get the biggest reaction (good or bad) and make the "best" reality tv. Explosive with happiness or, mostly, conflict, the show is just another blatant example of how to make pseudo-events (see theorists Daniel Boorstin and or Jean Baudrillard's hyper-reality) happen.
So, on I watch, along with my son and sometimes my husband, to learn far more than we wanted to know about how filthy most restaurant kitchens truly are, even when they get good marks on inspections. I wait for idiots to admit their concept for a restaurant sucks or their dining room manager is dringing them into debt. I watch to see the makeovers and the refitted menus and the on-the-street pitches. I see through to how people fill the restaurant only because Ramsay is there, that giving someone advice rarely helps beyond the first week (too easy to go back to old habits), and that Ramsay is a font of foul language in the most childish of ways. All manner of fun stuff.
The only thing so far that truly irked me? His gratuitous bashing of vegetarians as not having a clue in the world. Yeah, go eat some more lamb, asshole, and see if you get into that Heaven I don't believe in.
LOL @ self.