In this edition of Ask Andy, questions about the people who make Paramount+’s Ink Master possible, and about an old cooking competition produced by the same company that has since given us Love is Blind and Claim To Fame.
If you have a question about reality TV, reality blurred, or something else vaguely related, send it to me!
Will ABC’s The Taste ever come back?
How can we get The Taste to come back? It was a show on ABC. —Gloria
That fond memory is in large part because I was able to interview Anthony Bourdain about his role as a judge. He told me that being on the show for him was like “slipping into a warm bath.”
Bourdain also told me that part of his attraction to it was that it returned him to the kitchen: “I like getting the opportunity to cook again. Moments of terror, the stress—that’s fun. I haven’t had that kind of stress since I left the professional kitchen.”
Bourdain said he applied the same criteria to considering doing The Taste as he did to other projects:
It’s always a quality of life issue for me. Am I having fun? Am I working with people I like? It is it interesting to me? I very much understand that a big network competitive reality show is not going to appeal to a certain number of people who really like Kitchen Confidential or are fans of ‘Parts Unknown’. I’m a guy with a lot of interests. As I’ve said before, this bus makes many stops; I don’t expect everybody to get off on all of them.”
He also said:
“What I hope comes through in the show is how much fun we’re having, how invested we are in the contestants very quickly. Very quickly we bond with not just the people on our teams, but you start to take a real interest and concern in some cooks on the rival teams who presumably we shouldn’t care about, but we do. We all become very involved in the game and our passionate discussions and even arguments continue long after the work day’s over.”
The Taste ended its run in 2015. Of course, Anthony Bourdain died in 2018. While it’s always possible ABC could bring back the format, I think Bourdain’s death and absence would add an additional hurdle.
In general, cooking competitions haven’t really worked on broadcast networks except for Fox, if you count Gordon Ramsay screaming at people to be a cooking competition.
The Taste’s production company, Kinetic Content, did produce the two-season Man vs. Child: Chef Showdown for FYI, but it hasn’t done more food TV since. Instead, it went on to produce Married At First Sight and now Love is Blind for Netflix, and, last year, ABC’s terrific Claim to Fame.
What happens when Ink Master human canvases have complaints about their tattoos?
I’ve come across Ink Master marathons recently and have been watching some of the episodes. Do you know if the “canvases” who don’t have their tattoos finished or have mistakes or things that can be edited or fixed, have that done? Or are they sent home to fend for themselves? Thanks! —Tracy
A good question, Tracy!
First, it’s great to have Ink Master back: It was resurrected by Paramount+ this fall, after it was cancelled by Paramount Network, the network formerly known as Spike but renamed Paramount by its parent company Paramount, which is very, very good at branding.
While Ink Master doesn’t get repeated like Ridiculousness on MTV or Bar Rescue on Paramount Network, Paramount-owned cable networks sometimes do show old episodes and marathons.
But if you’re a fan and want more, Paramount+ has all 14 seasons, plus the spin-offs: two seasons of Ink Master: Angels, four seasons of Ink Master: Redemption, and the one season of Ink Master Grudge Match.
The human canvases used in all of those seasons are cast for the show, and during that process, “producers ask about their pain tolerance, number of existing tattoos and whether they’re willing to sit for hours at a time, sometimes with little input,” The New York Post reported.
Back in season one, when the show was on the now-defunct Spike TV, a spokeperson told The Post that a sunburned canvas who had to leave mid-tattoo had the tattoo completed later, and the show paid for it.
But that is a rare exception, even for the canvases who have quit mid-tattoo. The reality for most of them is quite different.
The human canvases not only don’t get bad tattoos fixed, but they also are not paid to appear on the show. The show doesn’t even pay for their travel or accommodations—and that’s right on the human canvas application. How incredibly cheap of the show!
And they do not get any post-show help. A publicist once told TV critic Rob Owen that:
“The artists appear on the show with the understanding they will be presented with difficult challenges, including time constraints that may be difficult to meet. Likewise, the human canvases understand they are being tattooed in a competition setting and things can go wrong. As much as we’d like to see a great tattoo each and every time, the reality is, not everyone leaves the show happy—this is part of the construct of the show that everyone agreed to at the outset.”
Why would anyone agree to that? A human canvas who was on season 5, episode 6, and Ink Master Redemption season 1, episode 4, did an Reddit AMA and said this:
They make it very aware that what you get is what you get and the potential of in satisfied work is a possibility. You only sign a consent form which makes you unable to speak about or post about the experience prior to the episode airing. I’m heavily tattood [sic] and wasn’t worried about an iffy butt tattoo, I mean I have my face tattood [sic] so I wasn’t too concerned about my butt. Just waned the free 12 hours of work. And I was satisfied with my piece reguardless [sic] on both seasons. Other people on that episode, that was there first tattoos :0, they were the crazy ones. Props to them but most everyone was in for the experience and the free work
In 2012, a human canvas did a Reddit AMA, and said producers told her “what I walk out with is what I have. They were not responsible for any costs to fix/remove/cover up the tattoo.” After the show, the person said, “I wasn’t offered any additional services.”
Part of the tattoo that was criticized on the show, she said, “I noticed that a few weeks later and was bummed for a little bit but then I thought to myself I got a free tattoo and I’m gonna be on TV. Even if it had turned out bad I will always have this tattoo to remind me of the coolest day ever.”
In another human canvas’s AMA, that person revealed that “my artist had their portfolio of recent work right there so if I didn’t like it I could just bounce,” and added, “I did it for the experience. My wife and I are super fans of the show and I got to experience something I love.”
If these human canvases are representative, it seems like the experience is a draw, as is the opportunity for a free tattoo, even an imperfect one.