Tuned In

Jamie Oliver vs. the School Lunch

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Speaking of ABC reality shows, I’ve just watched the first episode of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, which I recommend checking out when it debuts later this month. The series follows the British chef, who’s done anti-obesity work for years, as he goes to a West Virginia town which has been rated the unhealthiest region in America, and tries to improve its eating habits. I’ll write more about it closer to the March 26 premiere, but here’s a clip from the pilot:

What I like about this, and the pilot generally, is that this is a premise fraught with culture clash—Brit comes in and tries to tell us Americans how to eat—and Oliver knows it. He doesn’t come in like Simon Cowell or Gordon Ramsay, colorfully swearing or insulting people for the cameras. But he also doesn’t patronize the locals, like the lunch ladies here: he treats them like adults and fellow cooks, who he believes are capable of cooking from scratch, and who he respects enough to tell flat-out when he thinks they’re wrong.

(Also, although you only see a bit of it in this clip, the pilot gives a fair amount of air to their objections and their neighbors’, especially when Oliver’s quoted in a newspaper article making disparaging remarks about Americans’ eating habits. Here’s a local reaction to a screening of the pilot—though it contains some arguably spoilery references to Oliver’s stay in the area.)

So far, it looks like the rare reality show that has an educational goal yet neither oversimplfies it nor makes watching like, well, eating your vegetables.

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