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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.”

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  • Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means.


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