Even formulaic drama like Law And Order tries to ease a variety of farts under the sheet every so often but the only thing that changes on America's Got Talent is the order in which people make you face palm. Tune in to any given episode in any given year and you're probably going to see a child who sings like an adult, a person who seems too old to be doing something yet excels at it, a couple that is revolutionizing dance, a magician who does something you can't explain and, if it's in the early rounds, a handful of people who have no idea what music sounds like.
Chopped has been on TV since food was created and every episode is literally the same. It's stunning when you think about it. Here are four ingredients even a hobo wouldn't eat together, now cook something while three professional chefs judge you for either making trash edible or somehow failing in that task.
"I made these eggs out of an apple, a bottle of vinegar, some cat hair, and a KFC Double Down."
These shows have grasped the simple premise that every game show grasped years ago: If you like this one thing now, you're going to like it forever. Is Wheel Of Fortune ever going to throw you a curveball? No. You could watch these shows after a bottle of tequila and six licks of an unhappy toad and it wouldn't change a thing. They're as regular as nap time and just as challenging.
Everyone likes getting a reward. If I manage to not hit the seat when I pee, I fully expect a cookie when I'm done. If I make a hilarious tweet, please pay me in boobie photos. So, naturally, if you're in a reality competition of some kind, you get a reward. That makes sense. A reward makes sense. Why don't cooking show contestants acknowledge real rewards? And why do the editors force us to make like we believe their shitty rewards are a real thing?
If I win Chopped, I get $10,000 and that's awesome. However, you'd never see that on Chopped. You'd see a quick cut scene where I say I need the $10,000 to open my own restaurant and then the rest of the show would be devoted to me droning on about how I need the title of Chopped Champion. This is turned up to 11 on Master Chef where every home cook in the world's biggest cooking competition is eager to take home the title of Master Chef. Not to mention the competitors on Iron Chef Gauntlet vying for the title of Iron Chef. For fuck's sake. Here, let me make it easy for everyone reading: I grant you the title of Super Techno Commodore of Fun Time Squat Thrusts.
Take a trophy, everyone. They mean everything and also literally nothing.
Food Network just ran a season of Iron Chef Gauntlet and crowned a new Iron Chef who will now presumably invade people's houses and outcook them during the dinner hour since Iron Chef: America hasn't been a show since 2014, and being acknowledged as an Iron Chef is a lot like being called "Pirate King" or "Pornography Baron." Yes, they're words you can put together but what the hell do they mean in any practical sense? If a chef cooks in a random kitchen with no chairman, are they really iron?
I defy you to find a cooking show that doesn't feature at least one contestant in their private on-camera interview excitedly planning to take home the coveted title of America's Greatest Ham Jockey or whatever goddamn thing, as if literally anyone else on Earth would ever care. If you win Chopped, it means you cooked several baskets of cockamamie ingredients better than three other chefs. If you do anything better than three other people, you don't get a title for it. That's absurd. I can walk to the corner faster than my three elderly neighbors, and I'm not Don Julio de Walksalot as a result. By Food Network logic, I should have been crowned Overlord Wankington about 15 years ago.
Go ahead. Try to usurp my throne, Beatrice. I will speed walk you into a slightly early grave.
The goal of most of these shows is to make you think winning is its own reward, and that it's in some way prestigious and important and not mind-numbingly arbitrary and insignificant. Essentially, it's cool because it tells you it's cool. And since no one can exist in the world of the show who doesn't think it's cool, you have no other alternative but to see that reality and be slightly saddened by it even as all the cool kids form their own super badass food clique. So fetch.
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For more check out 5 Ways You Don't Realize Reality Shows Lie and 6 Reality Shows That Aren't Just Fake, They're Outright Evil.
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