Haven’t watched it, but Melissa at Shakesville has (and has embedded it neatly in her post). But her critique is worth a read. I know he’s doing good things with school lunch programs, but reality TV nearly always brings out the worst in people…
The premiere episode has absolutely zero structural critique, not even a passing comment about the reason that millions of mothers feed their kids processed foods is because it’s cheap and fast, which is a pretty good solution for people who are short on money and time.
Oliver places the responsibility for unhealthful eating exclusively at the feet of the individual, seemingly without concern for the cultural dynamics that inform individual choices. The extent of the explanation provided for why someone might choose to stock their freezer with frozen pizzas is that they’re lazy and/or don’t know any better.
And then he wonders why he isn’t greeted by the citizens of Huntington with open arms.
At the end of the episode, a newspaper article comes out in which Oliver’s evident contempt for the community has been reported. Oliver claims his words were taken out of context; the people with whom he’s been working to revamp elementary school meals don’t believe him—and understandably so, given that he’s been a patronizing ass to them.
In the final scene, Oliver speaks directly to the camera, and he is crying, wiping tears from his eyes as he throws himself a little pity party:
It’s quite hard to cut through negativity, always. And defensiveness. You know, I’m giving upmassive time that is really compromising my family—because I care! You know, um, the tough thing for me [exhales deeply] is they don’t understand me, ‘cuz they don’t know why I’m here. [sniffs] They don’t even know what I’ve done, the things I’ve done in the last ten years! And I’m just doing it ‘cuz it feels right [sniffs], and when I do things that feels right, magic happens! [sniffs; shakes his head disbelievingly] I’ve done some amazing things, you know? And that’s when I follow my heart. And when I never follow my heart, I always get it wrong.
Look, I’m gonna be really honest: You do live in an amazing country. You put people on the moon! You live in an amazing country. And so do I, you know? And, right now in time, is a moment where we’re all confused about how brilliant we are and how technically advanced we are, and that is fighting with what once made our countries great, which is family, community, being together, and something honestly as simple as putting a few ingredients together and sitting your family or your friends or your girlfriend or your mother-in-law around that table and breaking bread. And if you think that’s not important, then shame on you!
Also, I mean, come on, her title is “Save me from myself, skinny Jesus chef!”