Tuesday , February 27 2024
It's sort of true. It's almost true. It's just a little off.

The Truthiness of Last Restaurant Standing

For weeks I have been troubled by something on Last Restaurant Standing, only I had very little idea what it could be.  I knew that something was off, horribly, horribly off, but I couldn't quite figure it out.  Well my friends, I have solved the conundrum.  I have found my answer.  I realized why I felt so disjointed in the post-weekend service meetings Raymond Blanc.

The problem is that it's a weekend service.  The problem is that they discover the number of patrons the restaurants had on Friday and Saturday night.  The rest of the show however is made to make it appear as though it was all a single night's worth of service.  Everything is cut, right up until the meeting with Raymond, that the restaurants are only open for one evening, not two.  Bits and pieces of the two evenings, it seems, must be edited to together to form a single night in terms of the storytelling even though everything happens on two nights.

Now, that would be forgivable, allowing some narrative license is the norm on a reality show, if the judges didn't repeatedly reference the two nights of service when they talked with the couples at the end of the show.  If the show's desire is to make it appear as though there is only one night of service they have to stick with that, they can't make it appear as though there is only a single night of service and then suddenly talk about two nights.  It's just too confusing.

I like to think that I'm a smart person (occasionally I've been told otherwise), but it unnerves me to have this magic switch take place at the end of an episode.  Mostly I think that's because I can't tell whether the cameras are only showing a single night of service for each team and editing it alongside a different night of service for another team or whether they're cherry-picking the bits and pieces of each night for every team.  My problem is that I don't understand how I should see the episode, I don't understand how to backtrack and figure out what actually happened and not just what we're being shown.

We all know that reality television isn't really "real," it's highly edited and therefore lies some distance from the real.  It's important, I think, as with all television shows, to be able to differentiate between what we're being shown and what the "truth" of the situation is.  With Last Restaurant Standing opting to somehow, in a very unclear way, edit two nights of dinner service down so that it appears to be one night, I become lost.  I simply don't know how to work backwards and come to something closer to the "truth" of what happened. 

It leaves me very disjointed.  I enjoy the show, but I end up scratching my head trying to figure out what has taken place that I haven't witnessed.  A simple little explanation of how the elements are sifted in order to create a single whole or never, ever, referring to their being two nights of dinner service if I only see one, would go such a long way to making me feel a whole lot more comfortable.

I don't think that television should ever just be allowed to "wash over" you.  I don't for a moment think of it as a passive medium.  Good television is engaging, it causes viewers to think and wonder and contemplate.  I have a great deal of trouble when a show seems to, purposefully, make that contemplation more difficult.  Sure, I'm engaging with the show right here and now, but it's not the sort of fruitful discussion I would  have it be.  I'm not going to stop watching Last Restaurant Standing because of it, I just wish it were different.

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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