Someone recently pointed out to me that there were at least 3 cake-making shows on television these days. I’ve blogged about this before, but the whole “It works on one network, let’s inundate five other networks with frail copycats” thesis doesn’t work. How many people even know that “Chopped” exist, let alone that it tries to be a “Top Chef” clone? Perhaps it’s me, but reality television hit a brick wall of suck at least five years ago. Enter new TLC reality-based barbeque HARDCORE COOK-OFF ANGER FEST: TLC’s BBQ Pitmasters.

Youngish Upstart Paul with his Iron Boot Smoker

Youngish Upstart Paul with his Iron Boot Smoker

What’s interesting is how I found it. I opened up my fantasy sports page and was met with with these GIANT banner adds on the left and right side of my screen. On the left is Lee Ann, and on the right we meet Myron, who is covered in BBQ sauce and apparently wiping more sauce all over his silken snow white beard. It is truly a graphic shot. Lee Ann is carrying an axe and wearing a bowling shirt. I would be terrified to meet either of them in a darkened alley, which is apparently TLC’s aim with this show.

If you watch the video, you’ll meet the contestants. I call them contestants because they’re playing for money and prestige, baby. Competitor Tuffy tells us why he’s not afraid of his fellow Pitmasters.

I’ve been cussed out by French chefs. Think I’m afraid of a bunch of yokels standing around the hibachi?

This is classic on two levels. He makes fun of hicks (a seemingly decent portion of his audience) and champions (sort of) the French (alienating another key portion of his audience).  Is Tuffy trying too hard to be the reality TV villain here?

I’m not against good barbeque being highlighted by a television show, I’m just sick of television’s “Tough Guy Reality Show” presentations.  The tattoo shows are enough, thanks.  Now you have to name a show “Pawn Stars” and advertise it like they’re a biker gang?  Wasn’t there already a reality show about bike workshops?  What?!   There have already been three of those?!

I look forward to one year later, when Food Network has a show called “Smoked” hosted by Guy Fieri, and Bravo has a show called “Sauce Kingdom” hosted by George Foreman and some model lady, both featuring BBQ competitions.  Watching this stuff would be murder.  I enjoy eating barbeque.  I respect the process as well.  Do I need to watch an aggro-fest reality show where people cook for money to get my fill of barbeque?  No.

I have a short message for reality television: Nobody likes you.  Go eat worms.

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9 Responses

  1. Cary

    So I can see these completely insane marketing stunts. Giant elderly man covered in barbeque sauce vs. adblocker. The decision is simple.

  2. Danielle Dimovski

    I wonder if you have actually ever researched competitive BBQ and the KCBS. The new TLC Pitmasters show is the real deal. They went to competitions all over the US. The people are real the competitions are real. None of it was scripted. Out of all the crap tv shows on right now concerning food this is one I personally will watch. I dont doubt the vast majority of competitive BBQers will as well. There are thousands of us all over the world. You may want to check out my blog with the exec producer of the show or the interviews ill be posting this week with Tuffy and Harry Soo.

  3. Cary

    This show comes off as scripted. Not scripted like “The Hills” but a lot of the drama seems, well, manufactured for television.

    Don’t mistake my hatred of reality television for a hatred of BBQ. I LOVE BBQ. I love it. I just don’t see the necessity for another reality television show about food competitions.

    I dislike the ad campaign and the presentation of the show. My review in no way criticized BBQ, so don’t start slinging BBQ sauce where none was spilled in the first place.

    And yes, I did check out your blog. Nice stuff.

  4. Raiders757

    Anything is better than those stupid cake shows, cooking elimination shows, tattoo shows, pawn shop shows, Survivor, American Idol, So You Think You Can Dance, and Dancing With the Stars. Reality TV is weak and terrible, but if it has to exist, at least let there be a BBQ show. Why not? What the hey!

    I agree as well. I haven’t seen the show, but I am sure I already know the script and the formula. I hate how they cheese these shows out and try to make drama where there isn’t any. That’s one of my biggest problems with “reality” TV. The B.S. meter is in full tilt with these programs.

    Also, what happened to TLC? Didn’t they used to be The Learning Channel, before they became the reality network for dumbed down Americans?

  5. peter a lesley

    Good BBQ, but we beat Myron’s son at World Golf Village in a Memphis in May competition, taking 3rd in shoulder. It’s a pig-eat-pig world out there in comp bbq. and no matter what the earnings are, the expense consumes it. Basically bragging rights for your restaraunt or catering biz. The glory of the smoke, the joy of the taste, the fellowship of the cook. PAL.

  6. Texas BBQ

    I’m with a Texas BBQ team and to be hones there really is two sides to the competition circuit. These competitors are on the money making circuit and is somewhat larger in scale. I am part of the smaller donation circuit. There is little to no cash prizes handed out and all proceeds go toward funding small town fire and police departments who couldn’t afford their budgets if they wanted to normally. The show does tend to ignore the major factor in most competitions, the heavy drinking and partying. The average cook off is really just a social event where you usually see many of the same people weekend after weekend all over your region and spend most of your time having a good time with them.

    To me, the heart of BBQ really isn’t the cash prizes or the marketing it allows BBQ businesses, it is the friends you make and the good times you have while usually donating money from proceeds to good causes. A little bragging rights here and there just gives the incentive for dumping close to three to eight hundred dollars an average competition.

  7. LaPoint

    Scripted is right! I mean come on the Paul guy Shows up at a BBQ comp and has no idea what judges are looking for?! Come On what a load of crap, Its all VERY scripted in my opinion. Now the Old man is gonna teach him out of the kindness of his heart?! PLEASE! the kindness of his heart and a few grand from the producer of the show.

  8. jaime greene

    This was a great program, there are bbq contests every weekend. I have a team that competes and teams do help each other. May not give all the secrets out, but they do help. All competitions are for charity so its a great concept. Please keep the show on the air.
    tx Jaime


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