Pin It

Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution 

The naked chef descends on West Virginia

click to enlarge art14925.jpg

The problem with weight loss: It’s too easy. At least on TV. In shows like The Biggest Loser, for all the hyper-intense workouts and diet plans and tears and inspirational music, the pounds drop so quickly and so smoothly.

Dropping 30 pounds in a month is not something that really happens in the real world — that is, the world of Buffalo wings and pork rinds and honey-mustard dressing.
In the real world, idealism stubs its toe against drab cynicism; personal victories atrophy away into flab and failure.

Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, therefore, is a different kind of getting-into-shape show. Jamie Oliver, the British chef who catalyzed a massive overhaul of England’s school cafeteria menu, rolls into Huntington, West Virginia — the most “unhealthy town in America” — promising he can, literally, save their lives.

But Huntington isn’t ready to start eating out of the palm of Oliver’s hand. Oliver has to woo the hard hearts of Alice, the grumpy cook with the heart of cynicism, and DJ Rod, a popular local talk-show host who blasts him for insulting Huntington.

The first episode ends with Oliver crying. Oliver, unlike so many documentary subjects, seems very human.

While Food Revolution ignores controversy about Oliver’s food program in Britain (where a student was suspended for selling black-market potato chips), it’s not afraid to show Oliver’s occasional idiocy.

He’s can a bit obnoxious, a bit self-righteous, a bit na├»ve. Oliver dresses up in a giant plush pea costume to somehow make children feel more comfortable around vegetables. Instead of explaining to Huntington why processed food is bad, he pours tons of cafeteria food on a tarp, and mixes it with chocolate milk. Not exactly persuasive.

Neither are there typical reality-show villains. You understand why the old cafeteria lady, who’s seen fads come and fads go, might be a bit exasperated by some British bloke rolling in and bossing her around. She’s an antagonist, yes, but not a villain. Revolution treats the people of Huntington sympathetically — not merely as redneck cautionary tales.

And you also get the sense that, for all of Oliver’s passion and tenacity, his mission, like those of so many activists, may end in a hiss of disillusionment. That’s real life. And that’s drama.


An HBO series about struggling jazz musicians in post-Katrina New Orleans? Run by the guy who wrote The Wire, possibly most critically acclaimed drama of all time? How could this not win a wheelbarrow-full of Emmys? (Answer: The Emmy voters, who never gave an Emmy to The Wire, are damn fools.) (Sundays, 10 pm, on HBO)

Top Chef Masters
There are Top Chefs, and then there are the Top Chefs who top those Top Chefs. Top Chef Masters pits some of the greatest culinary talents, the ones who normally judge Top Chef, against each other. The one sad thing? Less chance of hilarious cooking disasters. (Wednesdays, 11 pm, Bravo)

South Park
On April 14, South Park ran its 200th episode. Since its beginning, the show has morphed from profanity to profundity to mediocrity. To be fair, when it comes to the tragic decline of once-great genius animated television shows, The Simpsons did it first. (Wednesdays, 10 pm, Comedy Central)


  • Pin It

Latest in Film

  • Closing the Book
  • Closing the Book

    Peter Jackson bids farewell to his hobbits with one last, great movie
    • Dec 17, 2014
  • The One Who Knocks
  • The One Who Knocks

    Why an Australian indie called The Babadook became one of 2014's creepiest films
    • Dec 17, 2014
  • Let My People Go Big
  • Let My People Go Big

    Exodus: Gods and Kings fails when it tries to humanize its spectacle
    • Dec 10, 2014
  • More »


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun
1914 Christmas Truce Carillon Concert

1914 Christmas Truce Carillon Concert @ St. John's Cathedral

Wed., Dec. 24

All of today's events | Staff Picks


More by Daniel Walters

  • For Your Consideration
  • For Your Consideration

    Creepy games, financial podcast pick and an important book
    • Dec 17, 2014
  • Game Changer
  • Game Changer

    Since Condon became mayor, Jan Quintrall has been responsible for some of the biggest changes in the city of Spokane — and some of its biggest controversies
    • Dec 17, 2014
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Fresh Spin

    A local record shop is reincarnated under a new owner, giving this generation a taste of vinyl
    • Nov 25, 2014
  • More »

Top Tags in
Music & Film



© 2014 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation