- Entertainment and Media
Man Vs Food!
Human Vs Food
Perhaps a sudden unexpected flash of television brilliance inspired the hit cable TV franchise "Man Vs Food". Probably not the result of focus groups filtered through committees of Wharton MBAs, this reality show gem chronicles massive eating challenges at diners and dives across the United States. Your endearingly chubby host, Adam Richman, endures extremes in spiciness, volume, and cardiac challenging comfort food in the name of prime time entertainment. It's all good until someone loses an artery.
Look no further for a host who actually loves his job. This guy may be faking it when he gushes over a generic hamburger and fries, but he obviously comes to work hungry and goes home full. One wonders what foods he actually cares for after gorging on virtually every popular dish. Does he subsist on celery and ice water after losing his taste for pizza, hot wings, hamburgers, shrimp, ice cream, steak, and just about every other menu item north of the Rio Grande?
Except for a few disgusting seafood-based concoctions, I suspect I could go fork to fork with Adam. His menu choices parallel my own. A huge hamburger, or four, is always a welcome sight on my dinner table. Knowing that a crowd of enthusiastic diners will cheer me on to food victory would make the challenge much more palatable. Does a human eat more efficiently while stimulated by adrenaline, or does the food just get to your face faster?
All the episodes do not end in human dominance. Sometimes the food wins, if you consider a half-eaten tub of melted ice cream some type of victory for the half-eaten tub of melted ice cream. Goodness, the cow is already dead: so what if half of it manages to stay out of Adam's tummy? Without question the food demands a rematch later that evening. No one wants to see that.
Some challenges focus on wickedly hot conflagrations of Buffalo Wings or shrimp or Asian cuisine that would peel paint off a DeLorean. Adam eats and sweats. He demonstrates the dedication of a fellow who doesn't know where his next meal is coming from. We suspect he is not good company for the remainder of the evening, nor are any members of the TV crew anxious to share a cab with him.
Every episode ends with a mock interview, wherein restaurant patrons pose benign questions to Adam, who is dressed as a prize fighter following a bout. He wears sun glasses (as a boxer would wear to hide his bruises) and sports a kitchen towel around his neck. The man takes his work seriously: no boxer ever had his innards abused like this. Typical questions are "Adam, was that the best hamburger you ever ate?" or "Adam, do you have an esophagus left?"
Classic television programming strategy always include attempts to jump on the bandwagon, or at least jog along beside it. Expect other cable TV outlets to devise similar plot lines. Before long we may be treated to a plethora of challenge-based shows involving seemingly commonplace activities. Filling air time often becomes more important than entertaining or informing.
Look for "Man Vs Rude" on the Travel Channel. A cheery upbeat traveler dresses in formal evening wear and enjoys a 5 course meal on the New York Subway. He must deal with fellow passengers who attempt to cadge spare change, use the wrong fork, and generally smell like the bottom of a milk carton on the equator at high noon. The show ends when he runs out of tokens.
Included in our array of spin-offs is the classic title "Man vs Crude", wherein an ambitious host packs a sack lunch and consumes it on the deck of a deep water oil rig. He endures rain storms and Democratic presidential administrations while munching peanut butter sandwiches and baggies of Pringles. His secret weapon is a juice box. The show ends when gasoline reaches $5 a gallon.
Clever TV producers may have already come up with "Man Vs Mood", a reality show based in a cafeteria at an all-girl high school. The host fills his tray with mystery meat and orange drink in little cartons, then navigates the narrow aisles to find a table that will admit him, He studiously avoids becoming involved in arguments over who has the coolest jeggings or who is dating whom. The show ends when the bell rings for 5th period American History.
Keep an eye out for "Man vs Brood", in which ambitious diners sneak into hen houses to appropriate breakfast. Retreating with as many eggs as they can steal without getting pecked to death, they prepare feasts by rerouting propane from the farm storage tanks to their portable Sterno stoves. The show ends when Alfred Hitchcock yells "cut."
Coming next Fall: Man vs Crude, in which our foodie hero tries to eat a Big Mac and fries on a oil derrick in the North Sea. Challenges include pump head blowouts, ravenous sea gulls, and thieving petroleum engineers. Global Warming may cancel this offering after only a few episodes.