by Nick Christiansen
Reality TV is a genre that seems like it will be around forever. There is a ton you can do with the genre, and virtually any demographic is reachable depending on the specific reality show. The shows we had to watch for this blog posting were Nailed It! and Queer Eye. These shows mostly appeal to a gay and female demographic with their subject matter and they do a great job at entertaining and providing to that crowd. I know this partially because my sister would watch baking shows in high school and I could tell that she would love Nailed It! Personally, my favorite type of reality show is something like Myth Busters or Doomsday Preppers where they experiment and build fun things. I love these shows because I love to tinker with things and you usually learn a lot along the way too. Watching these kinds of shows growing up also inspired me to do things like build artificial intelligent drones that will land me an awesome job soon.
I would say that Nailed It! conforms very heavily to the well established sub-genre of baking/cooking contest. You have a panel of judges with varying backgrounds, an energetic host, and contestants who are given a short amount of time to produce a result. The judges then judge the food based on appearance and taste before declaring a winner. Now I don’t think there really is any other way of designing a cooking show, so this framework doesn’t bother me at all. The only things that vary in these shows are what they bake. Nailed It! finds it’s niche in the sub-genre by making contestants recreate very elaborate baked items and I think that is enough to differentiate it from other shows in the genre. The show was very easy to watch and captivating because you can see mistakes happening in real time and you can see what kind of character a person has by how they bake. Would I ever watch TV like this in my own time? Absolutely not. I find it to be a waste of time and if I had to watch something I would rather watch a complicated show about crime or history for example. Does that mean I dislike it? No, shows like this are soft and easy to digest and would probably be a safe bet to put on while I’m hanging out with my girlfriend so she can enjoy the program and I can crack jokes at it. The show serves it’s purpose and brings a lot of people in to watch a fun and innocent little contests, so I respect that.
Cooking shows I’ve been known to get excited about are Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown and Gordon Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares. Anthony Bourdain’s show was both a travel and a cooking show. He would travel to exotic locations to talk about the culture of the area, then go to highly regarded or just simply good restaurants that reflect what people like to eat in the area. Being a highly regarded chef, he would break down the food for the viewer and tell you what elements of the dish were special. This show just felt rich and immersive with Anthony’s relatable perspective and excellent eye for detail, I’ll really miss the guy. Gordon Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares was a great show because it was so intense. Gordon would go to failing restaurants to save them from closing down. This means he would have to identify the problems and then fix them. Most often these problems would be in the staff and their cooking, so Gordon would tell these oblivious underachievers cold hard truths about how much they sucked at their jobs and what they would need to do to be better. This resulted in a lot of drama, but as you’ll learn, Gordon is never wrong about what he says, and his harsh words are pretty much always deserved. He is a man with zero fear and zero tolerance for bullshit. And at the end of the day, Gordon Ramsey probably saved dozens upon dozens of real restaurants form closing down. This was a cooking show with purpose and impact.
Queer Eye is a show that delivers a lot more than I thought it would. I expected to see some gay guys giving someone a makeover, but the show covered the story of a gay black man in the south and his struggles, it went over the story of a small town and how it’s building a community center, and it tells the story of a very loving and spiritual woman who loves her son regardless of him being gay and her being Christian. I also respected the show pretty much right off of the bat when the men mentioned how they still love spirituality and Christianity regardless of how misunderstanding church groups can be. These guys exhibit their positive ideals and character by building the community center for a church (which they made look great) and by being supportive to the gay son of the woman they were giving a makeover. This show is both very gay and very wholesome, it isn’t a show I would watch in my free time, but I can see how gay men would probably love it, and for good reason. It doesn’t match any reality TV formula or sub-genre I’ve ever seen, and it felt very refreshing.