Termite Television: Return to Hell's Kitchen
There are exactly three things I look forward to every summer: San Diego Comic-Con, hot dogs straight off the grill, and the return of my favorite television show, Hell's Kitchen. I wrote extensively about HK last summer at the start of its second season, so this will serve as a brief refresher.
As always, the show remains a reality/game show about a bunch of marginally talented culinary artists all fighting for their very own restaurant in Las Vegas and a couple hundred grand in cash. Standing in their way is the great British tyrant of the kitchen, Gordon Ramsay, one of the world's most respected chefs and biggest assholes. While a typical reality show primarily stars hot people with drinking problems and/or personality disorders, FOX and the producers of Hell's Kitchen take a different approach: fill the cast with circus freaks who aren't even qualified to eat in a restaurant, much less work in one. That way Ramsay will have tons of targets to yell things like "SHUT IT OFF YOU DONKEY!" to.
The highlight of this year's bumper crop of loons is Aaron, a 48-year-old retirement home chef from California who wore a cowboy hat to meet Chef Ramsay. Yes, Aaron's a cowboy, and just like real cowboys in the Old West he weeps when he's scared and sneezes into his cooking. Yee haw, Aaron. I'm also a fan of Vinnie, a nightclub chef from New Jersey who foolishly thought he could talk back to Chef Ramsay and who'd never heard the word "rubbish" before. "If you want me to do something, use words I can understand!" he griped to the cameras. Oy. Wouldn't you know he's from New Jersey.
For the second year in a row, Ramsay has split the men and women into separate teams and made them compete against each other. The men tend to get on well, but the women can't seem to stop yelling at one another (A disgusted Ramsay referred to them as "Hell's Bitches" at the end of their disastrous first service). Though one of these "chefs" will have the chance to run their very own restaurant, none of them at this stage of the game can fry an egg. None, except poor Julia, a cook at a Waffle House, who pleaded with her team to let her make the eggs because, y'know, when you work at a waffle restaurant, you get pretty good at cooking eggs while her snobby peers kept ignoring her and telling her to chop onions. Then she cried. Then Ramsay yelled. Then more crying.
It's clear that as it enters its third season, Hell's Kitchen has totally abandoned any pretense of being anything other than rubbish yes, Vinnie, rubbish. The contestants are emotionally unstable (one fainted before she even spoke to Ramsay), physically impaired (one guy has a kidney disorder that makes him look like a child) or just totally insane (Vinnie, I'm looking at you). There are exactly two contestants, one male and one female, who look like they've used an oven before (coincidentally, it wouldn't be the first time that someone couldn't figure out how to turn on an oven one guy got the boot last year for that very reason). So I think the finals are pretty much set at this point. But that's fine; you don't watch Hell's Kitchen for the suspense, you watch to see nutjobs get yelled at by an even bigger nutjob. Set your DVRs people, it's gonna be great.