Back before he was a vintage truck-driving British crusader in West Virginia, Jamie Oliver was a pretty fun, sorta goofy Vespa-riding Naked Chef, who I freely admit I miss (that show where he hangs out in his English country kitchen and cooks things sitting down doesn’t do much for me). While it’s got an interesting message of nutrition and change behind it, something’s a little off in the Ryan Seacrest-produced Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, and it may have a lot do with my problems related to the most famous show Seacrest produces. Like Keeping up with the Kardashians, Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution comes off as an over-produced mission show about healthy eating with no story about how or why the project came into being aside from the government statistic that Huntington, West Virginia was the most unhealthy town in the United States. Simply put: in the same way we don’t really know why the Kardashians are interesting enough to to be famous and on television, Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution’s tells us nothing about how his work in Huntington fits into the real world of multiple viewpoints. While there’s talk of controversy surrounding Jamie Oliver coming to town to mess with how people eat, there’s no explanation of how he gained access to any part of Huntington or his struggle for general acceptance. We see the problems he faces in little ways – most notably in the rightful disdain of the cooks at the local elementary school and his early interview with the local radio DJ – but there’s nothing else that really shows, rather than tells us, about what Oliver is up against. The show casts clear heroes (Oliver, Pastor Steve) and villains (everyone who is skeptical of or plain against Oliver) which doesn’t ring true for a reality show; we see life, but only a little of it.
Verdict: Will I keep watching? Probably, but I think we’re all going to need a little more meat with our salads in order to really become active viewers who care about what’s at stake.