Man v Common Sense

No bones about it: I love food. I came by it honestly – my mother was clasically trained and can whip up baked Alaska, a beef Wellington or any other dish with a capitalized letter in its name. My dad, who put himself through university working in a Big Boy, can address your imminent risk of hypoglycemia with a grilled cheese sandwich, omelet or cheeseburger. Stat.

As a foodie (and wino), I’m glued to cooking and travel shows. After all, anyone that loves to prepare food and eat it is open to new ways to go about that, right? I watch Gordon Ramsey to relive the things I loved and hated about working in restaurants; I watch Anthony Bourdain because, while I think he’s a condescending asshole, I love his show’s production value and take on culture; I watch Andrew Zimmern because … well, because I watched him take a bite of an “bizarre food,” gag, and go back for a second bite with one of the most cheerful expressions I’ve ever seen on the face of someone who thought he was either being deliberately poisoned or hazed.

Despite food being my primary porn, there is some shit I just can’t watch anymore. Yes, Mr. Adam Richman, I’m talking to you.

I’m Adam Richman, a food fanatic who’s held nearly every job in the restaurant biz. And now I’m on a mouth-watering journey to find America’s greatest pig-out spots. And take on the country’s most legendary eating challenges. I’m no competitive eater, just a regular guy with a serious appetite. THIS is my ultimate hunger quest. THIS is Man versus Food.

Do you recognize the intro to Man v Food? If not, congratulations. You haven’t been wasting your time. I’ve spent I don’t know how much time checking out this show (and for some reason, Richman also has Carnivore Challenge and EatFeat). Man v Food is a show with a predictable format: two segments dealing with local restaurants with food that Adam describes as “among the best things he’s ever tasted” or waving off the camera as “a private moment,” then the final segment where he seeks to beat some silly eating record at a third restaurant.

I’ll recognize, this seems like I’m picking on a retarded kid. Adam’s intro implies that he was a fry cook and waiter, maybe an assistant manager. But his intro doesn’t note that he has an advanced degree in drama from Yale. As stupid as he sounds, the guy doesn’t wear a helmet to work.

After checking a series of his episodes, I realized … they’ve persuaded me to watch infomercials. In every single episode I watched, he never tasted anything that wasn’t among the “best things” he’s ever tasted. The enthusiasm never flags. And this “not a competitive eater” guy is constantly trying to beat any record that stands in any stray corner of the nation.

So, even more than being induced to watch an informercial, I’m uphappy with what’s actually going on on this show. The tipping point for me was when he tried to eat eight pound-and-a-half breakfast tacos. For the mathematically challenged, that’s 12 f#cking pounds of food. Bottoming out at five of eight while never letting up on gush was what really tipped me off that it was just one more way to promote the folks that gave Adam and his crew free food.

Alton Brown (of “Iron Chef” fame) slammed Richman. Good for him, because someone needed to. He said that Richman’s show was all about gluttony, and with all the people starving in the world, his show was a “disgrace.” Richman responded that the show was about “indulgence,” not gluttony.

Thanks for clarifying, Einstein. Nineteen pieces of pie clearly don't make you a glutton.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but the last group of people who got famous for eating until they threw up were the Romans. I’m pretty sure Nero was warming up his fiddle at that point. There is definitely a difference between “indulgence” and “overindulgence,” and I’m saying that Brown is right and Richman is wrong in the characterization. Man v Food is a f#cking disgrace, and tuning in to it is voluntarily subjecting yourself to a 30-minute commercial.

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5 Responses to Man v Common Sense

  1. I could not agree more. Even here in Richmond, 20,000 people go to bed hungry every night. In lots of places in Africa and Asia it’s inconceivably worse. And I love food, good food, as much as the next person (which is why I am on Weight Watchers now LOL), but this – yeah. It’s a disgrace.

    Keep posting – I love your blog! Chris and I would love to come see you and Alison in DC/NoVA sometime!

  2. bonnie says:

    There’s a huge desire for fantasy instead of reality in this country. The media feeds into that with “reality” shows, dramas, even the “news” spins. And every 3 1/2 minutes, there is another food commercial on TV tempting people to eat only unhealthy stuff. You can’t be surprised there is an audience for a guy who pretends it is OK to eat this way. That said, this show is pretty disgusting.

  3. Tom says:

    Used to watch this show a whole bunch, but now I can’t stomach the host so I haven’t seen it in quite a while. Agreed completely with his orgasmic way of describing food that looks like it was made in a halfhearted attempt to break some record.

  4. James Melville says:

    Sadly you have all totally missed the point of the show. It is not to be taken as a serious show (the clue is in the intro) which reviews resaturants and food. It is simply a fun show where we can see someone do what we wouldn’t. Also he tries all the food we love but only have in small quantaties. Sadly you all seem to take this way too seriously as I suspect in the same way you take yourselves way too seriously. Calm down and perhaps watch proper food shows and spend your time commenting on them.

    • popdialectic says:

      Hi, James. Thanks for weighing in. If you’ve read any real percentage of the rest of this blog, I hope you’ll re-think telling me I take myself too seriously. I don’t take Man vs. Food seriously, and the point to that is that we’ve been suckered into watching an infomercial. Just because it doesn’t say “Paid Programming” in the cable guide doesn’t mean he isn’t a shill for the joints he visits.

      I will say, the show is fantastically done and enough fun that it’s tempting to watch it even *despite* everything I’ve said. All things considered, I have to come down with two thumbs. Happy watching, though, and thanks for visiting. ~A.

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