No Reservations

I don’t watch a lot of TV these days. I feel like most shows have a formula that either replicates itself endlessly or the show is randomly jerking you around with no real answers or meaning. I think that TV is a mostly squandered and wasted medium. It’s a little sad knowing that many of it’s creators felt it would open windows on places and ideas that couldn’t be seen in everyday life. But all hope is not lost. Inside that garbage bin of television lie a few small gems that seem to live up to my expectations of good programming.

Anthony Bourdain : No Reservations. It’s on the Travel Channel, which I assume is some kind of sub-department of Discovery Channel. I don’t even know when it comes on since it shows up on my TiVo as if it were some kind of five dollar bill left in an old pair of pants. Who knows when you put it there and you don’t care cause, hey, five dollars. TiVo is cool like that. But that’s not the point. The show is good. I mean it’s really good. And it’s about food all over the world. Something that I don’t think I would have ever dreamed that I would enjoy watching a television show about. I have always been a pretty picky eater and it’s only been in the past six or seven years that I have really started trying new things. And I can honestly say that this show has helped me look at food in a totally different light. I could even go so far as to say that this show has even helped me see the world in a different light.

So, this guy, Anthony Bourdain, is a fancy well known chef. But that’s kinda selling him short, I think. The show is about him visiting some place in the world and eating food and hanging out with people. Sometimes he knows the people, sometimes they are friends of friends, and sometimes just total strangers. He tends to stick to local cuisine and not the stuff you would see as a tourist. And a lot of times it involves just walking down a street and buying food from a street vendor or eating at someone’s house. That’s the food part. It’s kinda mundane and normal, and I really like that. People love food. Everyone needs food to live and everyone has food they like and lots of people have food that’s just part of their life. And that’s where people’s lives come into the show. These are real people. I mean, I know it’s TV and I’m not seeing everything that happens or hearing everything that’s said. But this show is pretty genuine. This kind of show makes “Reality TV” look like a scripted, rehearsed, post edited pig with makeup on it. And that’s good entertainment.

I’m sitting in front of the TV right now, watching an episode about Japan. He’s visiting a friend on a holiday where they honor their ancestors and return home to have a nice subdued, relaxing day with family. It’s a little boring and at the same time very interesting. Kind of the way a nice nap on a warm spring day is boring but you really enjoy it when you get the chance. That’s good stuff. And more people should see this on TV. And then more people should sit down, eat a meal with friends or family and think about all the other people in the world doing the same thing. Having a good time, enjoying some good food.

So this show probably makes me out to be the hypocrite that I know I am. I give TV shows a bad rap for being boring and repetitive, but here’s a show I like because it’s boring and just showing me the things I already enjoy but in a different setting somewhere else in the world. Or it’s possible that I like the show for showing me something so different and interesting through this little glass portal. I wonder if Anthony came to my town, where would I take him to eat? What would be the good things that I do for fun that people in other countries might find interesting? Why don’t more TV shows make people ask more questions?

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