Kitchen Nightmares disclaimers reveal customers are paid, editing is out of order

FOX’s Kitchen Nightmares was just renewed for a second season, and while it’s less deliberate and more abrasive than the British version, it’s rather entertaining. Some of that entertainment comes because of producer manipulation, and surprisingly, that manipulation is disclosed at the end of each episode for about one second.

Two disclaimers precede the credits, revealing what’s gone into the construction of the episode. The first says:

“The producers may have provided customers at the restaurant with a financial contribution towards the cost of their meal”

The show has been accused of hiring actors as diners, and this disclaimer essentially admits that diners are, on some level, paid. They’re being given the opportunity to eat for free and become TV stars, like the diners on Hell’s Kitchen. That makes sense, but the show contradicts the disclaimer, essentially having the narrator lie about the diners.

“Gordon Ramsay’s plan for a steakhouse to fill the void in this town has generated some buzz, and the restaurant is fully booked,” the narrator said last night. Going miraculously go from an empty restaurant to a packed house in a day might have something to do with Gordon Ramsay’s plan and new menu–and perhaps with the presence of cameras, never mind the disclaimed part, the free food, which would generate buzz anywhere. The second disclaimer says:

The footage shot in this program has been edited such that in places it is shown in a different time sequence than actually shot

This disclaimer is almost funny, simply because it’s so completely obvious how out of sequence events are. One episode included a brief moment with the owner and his wife hugging, and the narrator explained that they’d grown closer thanks to Ramsay’s help. But it was completely obvious that they were hugging after their initial conversation with Gordon, the one that took place at the beginning of the episode. Apparently, FOX’s demands for a powerful narrative and/or the lack of footage leaves them with nothing to do but draw from the same shallow pool of footage and make the narrator lie to compensate. That should be the third disclaimer: “Our narrator is quite full of shit.”

Surprisingly, man not eaten alive on Eaten Alive

Eaten Alive

Discovery Channel’s happy family holiday special Eaten Alive aired Sunday, rewarding viewers for their two full hours of viewing by ensuring that they spent quality time in the company of others instead of wasting that time doing something else that might not have been as satisfying, such as buying things that have labels which accurately reflect their contents.


Winter 2015 reality TV debut schedule

winter 2015 reality TV schedule

Mark your calendars with all these upcoming reality TV show debuts, including Celebrity Apprentice, The Bachelor, and another season of MasterChef Junior, all of which kick off in early January.

There are also 20+ shows debuting in December--including the one-off return of The Sing Off. No winter break for reality TV.

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.