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S7 E10 –Is food media getting very generic and boring?

Today’s episode starts with a pretty big realisation. We, at Sorted, could be contributing to a seriously boring food media landscape. Uh oh. Reality hits. The full podcast dives into what’s out there across media and social platforms and debates whether the industry is lacking innovation and creativity.

Best soundbite: “Maybe we’re stretching because we’re gonna cuddle so much.” – James Currie

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2 Comments

  1. SammiJMB

    Ah, this was a cool topic! I have to say for the most part I agree with you that it is getting somewhat generic and predictable, and that makes me sad. I don’t think that’s true of Sorted, though – or at least you’re aware enough of the risk to try and side-step it.

    I’ve been subscribed to your channel for a number of years – I think you’ve gone through at least three different kitchens since I stumbled across you guys? Or maybe it’s only been two and I just binge-watched the content that came before. I’ve watched Mike, Jamie and Barry develop their skills, and all five of you build on your presentation to camera (which was always good from the start), and, while I do miss the original format of teaching novices how to cook I understand that wasn’t sustainable in the long term. It’s been fun watching you try out various other formats to see what the community responds to – maybe it’s an unpopular opinion, but I actually loved The Fridge Cam Show. I don’t think even now anyone else is doing that kind of magazine-style cooking show, and certainly not the way you were.

    Outside of Sorted, the food media I tend to consume mostly comes from the Food Network, but even now I’m not watching anywhere near as much as I did exactly because it has become so generic. I watch the original ‘Man Vs Food’ and ‘Diners, Drive-ins and Dives’, because it fuels inspiration for when I finally manage to do my US roadtrip where I visit all fifty states, even just for a few hours just to say I’ve been there. I will watch Jamie Oliver, and the Hairy Bikers, because I enjoy their personalities, but shows like Nigella Lawson, Barefoot Contessa and The Pioneer Woman are just soooo boring – the cheesy stories behind the recipes, and “my good friend so-and-so is coming for dinner, so I’m making *insert-dish-here*” – c’mon! You invited them over in order to create content for the show! Even MvF and Triple-D have been copied to death because their format proved popular, though ‘Man Finds Food’ is very cool with its secret menus and hidden local gems. The scripts and delivery style across the Network’s programming are also very cookie-cutter, and I very much prefer watching you guys instead.

    It might be the case that Food Network UK plays it a lot safer than perhaps the US one does, and maybe they don’t trust the more innovative programming, so all we tend to get is the same four or five TV chefs, the Travelogues and then food-based reality shows like ‘Mystery Diners’ or ‘Restaurant Impossible’ at the end of the night. I did very much enjoy ‘Guy’s Grocery Games’ when they briefly aired that – think ‘Supermarket Sweep’ meets ‘Masterchef’ where the show is set in a supermarket, and some professional cooks have to go grab ingredients for their dish based on specific criteria and restrictive twists, and then cook it on the spot for a judging panel. It’s given me some inspiration before now on how to kick some of the things I make up a notch.

    I haven’t watched any of ‘Chef’s Table’ on Netflix, though it sounds from what you guys said that at least the first couple of seasons are worth a look! I do watch ‘The Chef Show’, as I love the movie Chef, but I’m not sure how sustainable it’s going to be ’cause aside from the interesting guests Jon Favreau’s been bringing on, it’s not breaking any boundaries either. I can’t watch shows like ‘Masterchef’ or ‘Iron Chef’ ’cause I don’t like how hostile the narrative on those shows can be – especially ‘Cutthroat Kitchen’! The dishes are also so pretentious and not something you can aspire to make yourself at home. I’ve always loved ‘Great British Bake Off’ exactly because it’s so friendly, the bakes are usually familiar and replicable, and the contestants are actually supportive of each other, without all the snark, tears and sob-stories – though sadly that wasn’t quite as true this last season….

    My YouTube suggestions are very much skewed towards channels like Buzzfeed Tasty and America’s Test Kitchen, which seem to have pioneered what are now very generic formats, such as the overhead camera angles/hands cooking the dish and product reviews. I don’t think anyone’s going to dare copy Andrew Rea’s production style for his Binging With/Basics With Babish though – and rightly so!

    Overall, my thoughts are that while you may sometimes get accused of copying another channel’s format or ideas, the times when you do something that’s already been done before you put enough twists on it to make it your own and you do it well, rather than painting by numbers just to get the engagement. I don’t think I’ve seen the Battles anywhere else the way that you do them, and your ‘Lost and Hungry’ rules make the travelogue style series unique, just for starters.

  2. Annie1962

    Is food media getting generic and boring?
    YES
    Due to my health I am pretty inactive physically and tend to watch a lot of Youtube and Social media etc.
    What I have found even in the past year is that too many media channels are being fearful of their uniqueness and falling victim into ‘towing the line’ and becoming copycats of each other almost as if not adopting the popular channel’s techniques, they will lose viewers/followers.
    ..and yes I am fearing that you guys may be falling victim to this as well.
    I’ve noticed that uniqueness and an ‘intimate’ relationship with the audience is the key to not only receiving success and respect but maintaining it.
    Just due to my interaction with you all over the past year, I have seen what makes SORTed food loved and popular and you’ll be surprised at what makes SORTed well loved.
    The #1 reason why SORTed is where it is … is you. Your friendship, your love for one another , your humour and banter with one another and also the fun you have when you muck around and occasionally sabotage each other. A meal of some sorts is always offered up and you ask us to comment about it – you respond to us (not as much as you used to) and take note of a lot of what we suggest, or take note of our criticisms, even though you haven’t responded re the missing competition of brownie points which seems to have been dropped.
    The food is still important but I have found that you all make what SORTed is, rather than the food.. Sorry Ben.
    Over the past 10 years you normals have become rather experienced. But still, foggy memories on how to make a bechamel properly and fluffing it up makes your videos worthwhile – because well we the viewers can relate. Luckily the chefs come in to save the day to make sure us the viewers don’t stuff it up.
    Media has become very samey and I agree with James that MasterChef has become BORING, particularly the Australian version as it can be over 40 episodes long and will always have the generic contestants – one to encompass each national cuisine. There will always be contestants adept at Asian, Italian, Indian, vegetatian etc.. and the dishes made are all pretty same-ish, I am SO bored with dishes needing chili, coriander, lemongrass, garlic, fish sauce etc.. it’s always the same. I have stopped watching Masterchef and also MKR doesn’t do much for me anymore – only when the contestants visit each others home for the meals.. once it goes to the studio kitchens I get bored.
    The best show in my opinion apart from SORTed is ‘Masterchef the Professionals’ . 21 episodes of absolutely interesting viewing. Wonderful format. enough to keep it interesting.
    I would love for you to ask people in facebook or moreso youtube, Ask us what we like about your channel. Why do we come back twice a week to view your vids?
    My reason – is that you are very personable, honest, fun.. you genuintely love each other like family and make us the viewer feel like we are part of you.. your recipes aren’t out of our realms of capability albeit sometimes I can’t afford some components of the meal.

    Another channel making huge strides due to its uniqueness is ‘Binging with Babish’
    Babish is real – he is unique but will show when a dish goes wrong. I don’t miss an episode. He has just released a cookbook too
    Got an idea for your next cookbook. OUR recipes. Let us submit recipes and you can make a book.
    Anyways I could rattle on about this forever
    In short – cooking channels are becoming same same.
    Uniqueness and a rapport with the audience is key
    in other words.. just be yourselves. We love you.

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