Bravo has renewed Top Chef for a 10th season, despite the pretty disappointing season that’s currently airing. The 10th season is currently casting and will tape in May for broadcast later this year. In quasi-related food reality TV news, Fox’s Gordon Ramsay vehicle Kitchen Nightmares has been renewed for a fifth season.
As to Bravo’s show, it’s hard to believe that just a year ago one of its best seasons ever, Top Chef All-Stars, was airing, only to be followed by a dumbed-down Top Chef Masters, absurdly formulaic Top Chef Just Desserts, and a pretty weak Top Chef Texas that did manage to air one of the show’s best episodes ever.
In The Daily Beast yesterday, Jace Lacob detailed why the show “has never felt quite so irrelevant and predictable”, and points out that they’re rarely allowed to just cook.
That’s exactly it, and what made the Charlize Theron episode so awesome: each chef was able to create a one dish by themselves. That’s it. No phony team drama, no making 600 portions for 500 guests while standing in a swimming pool in 110-degree heat. Just showcasting their skills as a chef under intense pressure. Imagine that!
I think a lot of network executives and reality show producers are under the impression that a show must continue to top itself and get ever-crazier to keep viewers’ attention. Things do need to change, but good casting can solve most of that, and incremental changes to the formula can keep things fresh, as Survivor has proven, even with its occasional missteps. Stick to what you do best and viewers will show up and stick around.