Why TV cooking shows have morphed into adventure programs

I've been talking about two things lately. First, are the increasing superlatives that must be attached to describe the events we're seeing in the world. Because Jesus likened the time to birth pangs, we know that birth pangs get worse and worse, more and more painful as the big event nears. The weather is record shattering, this flood is the worst ever, this tornado outbreak is the biggest in history. Yet the superlatives keep getting attached to the events in ever bigger form as the events grow larger and records keep getting shattered. It is an upward spiral that eventually will bring everyone down.

The second thing I've been mentioning is ever-deepening sin. Sin's depths know no bounds. In 1969, Charles Manson was discovered to have led a bevy of mind-controlled females and males into committing the Tate/LaBianca murders in California. Nine people died and it absolutely shocked the country. Nowadays if there aren't at least nine killings on a television show the ratings dip. As one sin becomes passe, another worse one has to take its place. There is simply no where else to go for the rush except to top it and try and repeat the rush next time.

This deepening of sin and its combined adrenaline rush is played out in television show titles. I was noticing on the television listings about the nature of the titles of reality shows. The Food Network for example. In decades past, the shows used to feature gourmet chefs who were galloping, or were frugal. The titles were benign, inoffensive, charming. The very first cooking show on television was James Beard in 1946. (no, not Julia Child, she came along more than a decade later, in 1962). Beard's show was simply called "I Love To Eat."

Nowadays we have gone from:

Top Chef ... to ... Chopped ...to... Iron Chef ...to... Extreme Chef. Where once upon a time, people were content to simply sit still for half an hour and watch a competent chef teach them something new, we watch quick-edits of chefs running in the desert and dodging hailstones while extracting ingredients from a block of ice or using a Swiss Army knife as a lone cooking utensil, being are pushed to their physical and mental limit. All for a good pasta.

In 2003 "The Restaurant," a reality show featuring two owners at odds with each other, was compelling enough to spawn more restaurant shows, each with a more adrenaline-rush name:

Hell's Kitchen ... to ... Restaurant Nightmares... to ...Restaurant Battle ...to ... Restaurant Impossible. Impossible! As each television season unveils a new show, the names have to be tougher, the people participating in them have to be rougher, the fights bigger, the injuries worse. And these are the cooking shows. In order to lure increasingly jaded audiences, they entice them with teasers promising blood, crashes, fisticuffs. Again, I'm talking about cooking shows.

In 2000, The History Channel aired a 46-minute episode titled "Ice Road Truckers" as part of the 'Suicide Missions' series. The IRT episode became a break out show on its own. After four years, Ice Road Truckers alone wasn't good enough (not enough of them sank beneath the cracking ice to drown their drivers in a frozen lake?) so we got IRT: Deadliest Roads in the Himalayas with constant quick-cuts to crushed vehicles at the bottom of precipitous inclines.

The shows titles and of course their material are getting more extreme. I think if we looked at a prime time television line-up schedule from 1965 and then looked at one now we'd be shocked at the mentions of extreme, death, deadly, etc. Like this- What's after 'Fear Factor'? "Terror Factor"?

The only place to go is down. Television is rapidly becoming more and more shallow, nasty, and polluted. However, being a mirror for our culture, it is only reflective of the people who watch it and our descent into sin is also rapid, polluted, and nasty. It is a progression James 1:15 aptly describes: "Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death." The lust he describes is not just a sexual lust, it is a coveteousness, desire, sensuality that seeks to fill the emptiness inside. That emptiness is a place just waiting for Jesus, His light, His holiness, His righteousness. But if they do not accept Jesus, they continually seek to fill it with ever deepening poisons and perversions.

Unbelievers say that they are free. They are not, they are slaves to their lusts. The television schedule shows us that, plainly. But Jesus is the INSTANT answer to the need for that emptiness to be filled. He is waiting to fill it. You will be a participant in His plan to regenerate you from the inside out. He replaces lusts and poison and depravity with light and holiness and righteousness. You feel fresher. You no longer seek and seek and seek the next high, because you have finally found the ultimate High: Jesus.


  1. The world is getting weirder everyday. And the worst of it all is the news of children getting hurt and abused and even killed by adults. It's sick, and it makes me cry when I hear of it. In God's perfect timing, he will avenge the death of His saints and the innocent ones.

  2. Thank you for posting this! I've been noticing the decline, too, just from the titles of shows. I hadn't considered cooking shows and you are right!

    I'm appalled at some of the shows that are advertised. I can't bring myself to watch them, even just for educating myself, because they look too awful.

    But you are right-- the cooking shows are doing it, too, and I hadn't even thought of it!

  3. I was born in 1960. I grew up with the Frugal Gourmet, the Galloping Gourmet and In the Kitchen with Julia Child. My mother was a gourmet cook and spent a great deal of time reading cookbooks and watching the shows on tv. I am not a good cook myself but I watch the shows because there is no nudity and profanity occurs only rarely, and they bleep it out if it does. The subject matter is inoffensive. But the trajectory of these shows in general is just awful. While watching Chopped last night, I saw an ad for Extreme Chef. The clip showed 3 chefs running through a desert, and then hail or snow or something. I was absolutely appalled! I'm so grateful to the Lord for renewing me by the strength of the Holy Spirit, so that the old fleshly longings to be combined with the world are gone.

  4. It seems like all TV is spiralling downward the slippery slope of sin. Dven if the show is alright, the commercials surely are less than holy

  5. I used to really like cooking shows, too, but we got rid of the satellite dish, so it's no longer an issue:)


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