Saturday , December 9 2023
Hell's Kitchen finished its season last night, and I finished Wipeout.

Hell’s Kitchen Has A Wipeout

I'm more than happy to admit that this season's edition of Hell's Kitchen (which ended last night) was moderately disappointing. Everything about it felt as though it were a poor imitation of previous years. But the most disappointing thing about the whole season were the contestants. They simply didn't, even in the final episode, make the audience feel confident in their abilities.

Usually, the season story arc runs from the chefs being mostly incompetent to their eventually being hugely impressive (at least the ones who don't get fired). That didn't happen this season; instead Ramsay just eliminated week after week the people who clearly ought not be running a restaurant (save, maybe, Ben, whom Ramsay just didn't like). By the end of the season, Ramsay was left with two people who probably ought not be running a restaurant, and he chose the one who probably ought not run a restaurant the least. It was not really terribly inspiring.

What it was, however, was head and shoulders better than the other show I watched last night – Wipeout. What is up with that show? It performed well in its timeslot, so clearly someone is interested, but I don't get it. It consists solely of people running around obstacle courses and performing tasks designed to make them look stupid.

Erin Medley and I talked about Wipeout on our show last week, and she insisted that it was well and truly funny – hence my watching it. But, I'll be honest, I don't get it. I like to see people do dumb things and get hurt as much as the next guy, but the obstacle courses, particularly the first one, seem set up so as to be impossible to do without falling. The goal, it seems to me, is not to avoid falling into the mud and water, but to avoid falling as much as the other people. Shouldn't obstacle courses actually be do-able?

Worse than that, it seemed like the obstacle courses were not only not do-able without falling, but that trying to do them without falling would actually cause the contestant to get a slower time than if they just jumped into the mud and went to the next section. What sense does that make? Plus, and I hate saying this, the commentary on the show was absolutely horrific. It was, I guess, meant to be funny, but it wasn't. The two hosts, John Anderson and John Henson, pretty much just repeated the same thing over and over and over again about the contestants. I'm not sure whether that was because the contestants had absolutely nothing interesting about them, the production folks working up bios didn't do their jobs, the hosts didn't care what the bios said, or the general assumption was that the audience was too dumb to remember that the hosts were repeating themselves, but it was really disappointing.

It's a shame, because Wipeout seems like a great concept, but it needs to either have the first course ratcheted up a notch, so that it's even more ludicrous and far longer, or taken down a notch so that it's manageable. Right now it's on a middle ground that doesn't work.

Maybe I'll tune in for season two to see if they fixed the problems, but right now I have to go prepare for my interview this evening with Kevin Michael Richardson of The Cleaner.

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.

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