Despite my fascination with The Bachelor franchise, I’m not a huge fan of reality TV. Especially with competition shows, I really only care about a small portion of the 1-3 hour weekly event, and thus, I won’t invest my time in the whole show.
Yet, sometimes a show comes along where the premise is so wacky that you might actually…learn something?
For me, that show is Cutthroat Kitchen.
Bear with me.
In Cutthroat Kitchen, four chefs compete in three different rounds. They each start with $25,000. They can use that money to purchase “sabotages” for their competition. However, it behooves them not to spend their entire $25 grand, as the last remaining person can only keep the money they have not spent.
The sabotages are truly inventive. They involve substituting ingredients, using strange utensils or containers for cooking, and physical handicaps, such as exaggerated costuming or being forced to do all your prep work while sitting in a coffin.
How is this a life lesson, you may be asking yourself?
That comes down to the judging strategy.
In Cutthroat Kitchen, the judging comes down to three specific criteria.
- 1. Does it taste good?
- 2. Does it look good?
- 3. Is it the dish they were asked to prepare?
It doesn’t matter how inventive or delicious your dish ends up being… if the judges asked for a Cubano sandwich, it better remind them of a Cubano. The person most likely to fail isn’t necessarily the one with the sabotages… it might be the person who forgot to grab mustard from the pantry.
For Cutthroat Kitchen, it doesn’t matter if you did well… for your circumstances.
It matters that you did well, period.
In a way, this is reflective of life and may be a commentary on how we treat people who need reasonable accommodation. Can we truly judge someone for not attaining a desired level of success if they weren’t given the reasonable accommodation to get there?
Sometimes, in the first round of Cutthroat Kitchen especially, there is a sabotage so impossibly difficult, that you know the most talented chef would not be able to successfully pull off the final dish. Sometimes the most talented chefs do make something delicious, but it’s no longer reminiscent of the original challenge. And as such, that person is booted from the show.
There are so many directions one could go with the subconscious message of a television show like Cutthroat Kitchen.
It’s true of many jobs that you benefit more from giving someone exactly what they asked for rather than a much more inventive (and superior) version.
It’s true that it’s possible to succeed while facing obstacles.
It’s true that others might try to sabotage you, that your friends in the office aren’t always your friends, that appearance counts, etc.
But the thing that has always resonated with me–the thing I’ve thought is poignant and ultra-American about the television show, is that it demonstrates how important luck and the kindness of others is to your eventual success.
How do you feel about Cutthroat Kitchen? Are there other reality shows that have forced you to see kernels of truth?