Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Those Mean English

Last week, Piers Morgan won "Celebrity Apprentice" even though producers essentially cast him as "the bad guy" compared to All-American cowboy Trace Adkins.

One of the keys to Morgan's victory was calling in help from "American Idol" judge Simon Cowell, routinely cast as the villain on that show.

Tonight, perhaps the "meanest" of all is back with chef Gordon Ramsey, who brings back a new season of "Hell's Kitchen" (Fox, 9 p.m.) Fox promotes the show by showing clips of Ramsey berating the various chefs on the show.

Being half-English myself, I have to wonder why the English are so often cast as the villains on these reality shows. Are there hard feelings left over from the Boston Tea Party?

The interesting thing is, if you actually watch the shows, most of these guys aren't particularly villainous. Morgan was smug when Omarosa lost again and again, and his tactics may have been underhanded, but as he pointed out, the goal was to win each week. Donald Trump himself has kicked people off "The Apprentice" for NOT using certain tactics to win. And Morgan showed a lot of class both in talking about Adkins and in representing his charity, to aid wounded American soldiers.

Cowell has been the king of the bad guys, but in the bits of "AI" I've seen over the years, the only time he gets really nasty with his comments are for the people trying out and who are clearly there to play for the camera - not the serious contestants who are actually trying. The times I've watched, I've actually seen Randy Jackson be more mean than Cowell. And when Cowell does give praise to a contestant, it seems to mean a lot more, because you know he doesn't give out that much of it.

I haven't watched "Hell's Kitchen," but I know Ramsay does do a lot of charity work, so I'm wondering how much of it is him being sincerely mean and how much of it is editing and playing to the camera.

So let's stop stereotyping the English guys as the bad guys next time a new reality show comes along.

TUESDAY'S BEST BETS: Barbara Walters explores the idea of living to be 150 (ABC, 10 p.m.) Me? I'm taking it one day at a time.

"CSI: Miami" (CBS, 10 p.m.) concludes a two-parter from last night. I'm guessing David Caruso will make a dramatic gesture with his sunglasses at some point.

And finally, you can catch that mean Simon Cowell on "American Idol" (Fox, 8 p.m.)


zodin2008 said...

Let's see...."American Idol", "The Apprentice", "CSI: Miami"...yup, this maybe your first blog ever where you didn't mention one show worth talking about.

My wife and I will be using our primetime TV hours instead to catch up on "Brothers & Sisters", season 2, which is now in full on ABC.com.

Anonymous said...

What I've always wondered is, why do the English have bad teeth? Do they not have dentistry over there?

I also noticed in the latest installment of HBO's "John Adams" that our second president apparently had some dental issues. But for whatever reason, that was not pointed out until immediately after he had gotten home from living in England. Why did he have to go to London before his teeth deteriorated?

Phillip Ramati said...

That's a timeless question, anon - no one knows. Maybe it's the bad teeth that makes them mean-spirited.