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This Season of Hell’s Kitchen Continues to Perplex

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I am disappointed with Hell's Kitchen this season, just all around disappointed. Normally with the show, in a bad season, I'm disappointed with the contestants, but this season goes way, way beyond that, even if the contestants really are more obnoxious than usual.  This season my disappointment extends to the challenges and Ramsay as well.

Normally, I love the loud, boisterous, and sailor-mouthed Gordon Ramsay, but what was up with his attitude during the challenge last night.  The chefs were broken into groups of two within their team and had to make sausages.  What did that result in?  A bunch of sophomoric jokes by the chefs – including Ramsay – about penises.  How old are they?  Shouldn't Ramsay be there yelling at them when they start to head in that direction?  Shouldn't he be the guy who cuts them off at the knees every time they start to make bad jokes?  Why is he joining in?  Has he forgotten his role in the show?

Clearly not, because he spent dinner service yelling at the people as he ought to have.  So, what happened during the challenge?

Well, I'll tell you my theory – the contestants this season are a joke and Ramsay has recognized that.  He yelled at them during dinner service, because that's when his name and reputation were on the line in front of the public, but the same wasn't true during the challenge.  Ramsay has decided that during the challenges this season he simply isn't going to kill himself to make these guys (and gals) do something they can't do

The sausage challenge they had last night was an incredibly easy one – make sausage when you already have the casing and the meat and the machine ready to go.  The entire thing gave me the feeling of the producers dumbing the show down to the level of the contestants that they've gotten this season.  It was an incredibly simple set of steps, and yet some of them still had trouble.

Need more evidence of the incompetence this season?  Look at what happened during dinner service – Robert went apoplectic yelling at Andy due to his incompetence on the meat station.  I understand where Robert was coming from, he at least has heart and – based on how long he lasted last season which had some decent contestants in it – some skill.  Robert was wrong to yell (see below), but Andy is clearly in over his head this season.  I'm not basing that solely on what we saw of him messing up last night, no, I'm basing it on sous chef Scott getting in Andy's face about Andy's incompetence.  Scott tends to be a pretty even-keeled guy, has been every season; for him to go off on a contestant really indicates that the guy has a problem.

Now, while I defended Robert a minute ago, I can't defend the man's temper tantrum last night.  No, not the one in the kitchen during service, that was mostly just the aftershock of the real fit during their punishment where he broke a broom and ran around screaming and yelling seemingly trying to fight with anyone who would dare look at him.  He ought to be embarrassed by how he was acting.  I get that he doesn't like to lose – no one does – and I get that he has been made fun of and called weak his whole life.  It doesn't seem to me however that picking a fight is the way an adult shows their strength, but perhaps I missed the memo.

Let's not pretend though that the women aren't without crazy this season either.  At the end of the episode, Suzanne was asked by Ramsay who she would choose to see eliminated.  She said Lovely, and Ramsay agreed.  Suzanne then, in her one-on-one with the camera, suggested that people ought to feel threatened by her because clearly Ramsay respects her opinion.  He asks people that question about who they want to see eliminated all the time. Sometimes he agrees and sometimes he disagrees; it showed absolutely no faith in Suzanne. It only showed that this time around the opinion he'd already formed meshed with hers, nothing else.

Okay, fine, I shouldn't expect more from the show – it's never been full of the sharpest knives in the drawer and this season, from the very first episode, has proven to be full of a group that is duller than most.  It is, however, as I said at the beginning of this column very, very disappointing.  I hope the producers are already working out how to make next season better.

Seriously, tell me that you're not more disappointed in this season than you have been of other seasons.  You can't, can you?

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About Josh Lasser

Josh has deftly segued from a life of being pre-med to film school to television production to writing about the media in general. And by 'deftly' he means with agonizing second thoughts and the formation of an ulcer.