5 Reasons “Hell’s Kitchen” is TV’s Best Feel-Good Hour

If you’re not watching Hell’s Kitchen, currently airing its 4, 652 cycle of chefs doing a terrible job of being chefs, then what gives?  Or as Gordon Ramsay would say:


Right?  Dude’s got moxie.  Look, some shows are misunderstood, and this is one of them.  I mean, sure we tune in for our weekly televised version of primal screaming, but really, this show stands as one of the most heartwarming on television.  We’re talking a show that will just warm the crap out of the cockles of your heart.  And if it doesn’t, I guess you’re just RAW IN THE MIDDLE!

Still don’t believe me?  Here are five reasons Hell’s Kitchen is TV’s best feel-good hour.

1) There’s Comfort In Its Predictability

Newsflash: it’s a kooky world out there, folks.  Our daily lives are rife with such tumultuous uncertainty that, at times, giving yourself over to routine has its own comfort.  And let me tell you, if you wear your TV reliability like a warm blanket on a rainy night, then consider Hell’s Kitchen a Snuggie.

Point is, if you’ve seen one episode, you’ve seen ’em all.  Structurally speaking, of course.

The minute you hear the sweet words, “Now, the continuation of Hell’s Kitchen…” the table sets itself. (Ha!  Culinary puns!) The remaining contestants shuffle off to the dorms after Gordon bemoans their “dreadful” or “embarrassing” performance (usually inviting them to “piss off”), the teams swear to bounce back, contestants wake on a new day to a random challenge that always comes down to the final two dishes, one team gets whisked away to a reward (impromptu trip to Vegas anyone?), the other team undergoes a torturous punishment (with a fifty-fifty shot of consuming offal or goat testicles for lunch just cuz), dinner service becomes an invariable horror show, Gordon screams, scallops find themselves undercooked, Gordon punches raw fish even though the fish might not deserve it, a team wins (usually), a team loses, two (or perhaps four) people find themselves up for elimination after a spirited debate that typically keeps censors on their toes, the two on the chopping block pathetically beg to remain, Gordon aggressively points at someone and kicks them out, said dismissed contestant gives up his or her jacket and walks off slow-mo down the hallway before confessing to the camera that Gordon has it wrong (spoiler: he never does), Gordon tells the remaining contestants to step it up and sends them away, dramatic redemption music cues, Gordon stomps up to his fake office (his zinger-filled voice-over eviscerating the “skills” of the discarded chef as he does so), he impales the coat on a hanger, and the eliminated contestant finds his or her picture incinerated by an unexplained force of Gordon Ramsay black magic.

Sound familiar?  The answer is yes because duh.  I mean, we have variations on this theme.  For instance, sometimes the lamb gets massacred during service or some buffoon humiliates himself or herself doing table side service, but even these fall in the familiar repertoire of Hell’s Kitchen.  In these chaotic times, it’s nice to know there’s some stability out there.   And it will never not be amazing to behold the wonder of a Gordon Ramsay kitchen-clearing drive-by: “You.  You. You.  You.  GET OUT!”

Ah, the comforts of routine…

2) The Contestants Make You Feel As Fit as an Olympian

I’m not one to criticize someone for their girth or lifestyle choices, but damn, Hell’s Kitchen contestants!  I’ll admit that, over the years, the sizes of some of them have been downright alarming on a moral level but oddly encouraging for a good ego boost.  Human nature, am I right?

Contestants, keep doing whatever it is you are or–more likely–are not doing because this show does wonders for one’s self esteem.  Skipped a month on the treadmill?  Well, at least you don’t get winded slicing onions!  Indulged in that extra slice (or three) of pizza?  At least an on-staff medic hasn’t deemed you physically unfit to cook spaghetti!

You might think those who work in the food service industry would have a better understanding of nutrition and how to maintain a healthy lifestyle, but boy don’t these contestants seem (almost universally) to smoke more than any single person you currently know or have previously known?  Next time there’s a clip of them shooting the breeze or angrily ordering one another to go back to the supermarket, check out that ashtray: looks like a model of the Amazon jungle that uses cigarette butts for trees.

The bottom line?  Watching Hell’s Kitchen will provide your questionable eating and exercise choices with a heaping portion of perspective.  You’ll walk away saying, well at least I’m not like that.  Thanks for the schadenfreude, HK!

3) The Contestants Make Your Friends and Family Seem Far Less Dysfunctional By Comparison

Each subsequent season of Hell’s Kitchen manages to one-up the previous year in terms of absolutely insane contestants.  And talk about anger!  You remember that bald dude from the original Night of the Living Dead who bursts out of the basement and is instantly furious for no real reason (setting aside a zombie apocalypse)?  Well picture upwards of sixteen people exactly like that crowded into a high pressure work environment and slovenly dorms.  Fireworks ensue.

The perpetual dorm squabbles, verbal battles, and interpersonal bickering is a highlight of this show, and it certainly makes those politically charged holiday meals you share with your family seem considerably less dramatic.  Thanks, Hell’s Kitchen for proving that no matter how crazy you feel like your family and friends are, there’s always a group of batsh*t crazies just around the corner.

But enough talking.  If pictures are worth a thousand words, then cozy up for the photographic version of both War and Peace and the unabridged edition of The Stand combined.

How about these two besties?

HK 1

Or these affable chums?  Hint: They are not about to make out.

HK 3

Let’s not forget about that one cousin who gets drunk on holidays and starts defending her poor decisions.

HK 2

Or how about this mentally unstable character?

HK 5

See, don’t you feel better about your family and friends already?  Thanks, Hell’s Kitchen!  I have no idea what I’d do without you in my life to help me through the tough times and provide me with some much-needed perspective.  Probably, I’d be making this face a lot more often:

HK 4

4) You Don’t Suck This Badly At Your Job

Seriously, if your boss gets on your case for mismanaging your time or taking too long on that spreadsheet, just think about the chuckleheads on Hell’s Kitchen.  I’m convinced more raw (“It’s RAW IN THE MIDDLE!”) and overcooked scallops (“It’s like a ******* hockey puck!”) have been thrown in the garbage due to this show than have ever existed in the world’s oceans since the dawn of time.

And don’t even get me started on the risotto!

That’s to say nothing of the general milieu of incompetence that seems to beleaguer every blue team at the start of this competition.  I don’t have a clue where they find these men from, but holy hell, this group of dim-witted simpletons can never seem to get out of their own way.  I’m talking unable to dress a salad!  Raw chicken!  The works!

And we wouldn’t have it any other way, would we?  HK fills us with hope, week in and week out, that even if our own jobs are difficult and overwhelming, at least we’re able to function at our workplace.  Plus, Gordon Ramsay restores our faith in humanity; at the end of each episode, the biggest bumbling fool of the bunch gets the boot.  Ain’t it refreshing to see that incompetence isn’t rewarded for once?

I feel better about my career (and the world in general) just thinking about it!  Thanks, Hell’s Kitchen!

5) Gordon’s Priceless Life Advice

Never settle in life.  In his own rage-fueled way, that’s the point Gordon wants to get across, and doesn’t that sort of fill you with hope for a better tomorrow?  Have a little integrity, a little resolve, and life will reward you.

To wit:

“Everything you’ve touched tonight, so far, has been screwed.”

“Look at that. Overcooked on the bottom, crispy as **** and it looks like Ghandi’s flip flop!”

“Oh my God. Right now I’d rather eat poodle **** than put that in my mouth”

“Try not to throw it on there, yeah? We’re cooking, we’re not playing darts!”

“It’s fitting that you made this in Vegas because whoever eats this is sure to get the craps.”

Game.  Set.  Match.

I’m telling you, you’ll never feel better about your life than after finishing an episode of Hell’s Kitchen.  Currently in its twelfth season, it airs on Thursdays on Fox at 8:00.  Set your DVR!  Self-esteem guaranteed to improve when you watch this, the most feel-good show on television.

Leave a Reply