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Hell's Kitchen vs Shark Tank: The Difference Between Good and Great Reality TV

For some pitches the entrepreneur themselves is likable and competent and their business sounds like a great idea. We invest our hopes in them and feel the great joy that comes to them when they secure a partnership with one of the sharks that will transform them from a life of penny-pinching to wealth and success. Other pitches allow us to live vicariously through the dragons. Many an entrepreneur will waltz onto the show with a cocky attitude and an embarrassing product that no one in their right mind would ever waste their money developing. In these scenarios the satisfaction comes from watching the Sharks rip into the hot shot and bring him back down to earth. (For an example see the clip below -- in this case the product and the business is actually pretty good but his evaluation is way off.)

Shark Tank is more successful not just because it's easier to establish a relationship with the characters but also because the stakes are much higher. Each season of Hell's Kitchen takes 15 episodes to do once what Shark Tank can do five times in one show. There will be a single winner at the end of Hell's Kitchen who will earn the grand prize of being the new head chef in Ramsay's next restaurant. And while the $250K, peak-of-one's-career position is desirable, it pales in comparison to the fortune that can be made after one secures a deal with the Sharks. Those "prizes" often have the potential to be worth tens of millions of dollars. They're not just handed out, though. The winners in each deal aren't just the entrepreneurs dropping by the Tank but the Sharks themselves and the viewers. Many a time watching Shark Tank and Dragons' Den The Wife and I would end up rooting for entrepreneurs because the product or service was something that we wanted to purchase ourselves. Through one of these millionaire Sharks partnering with an entrepreneur the viewer is actually winning too. The more new businesses are created the higher all of our quality of life will be. (Of course our president The Great Deep Thinker isn't helping when he suggests that the wealth of these investors is something that they don't actually "need.")

There's been a lot of good discussion lately about the coming collapse of both the traditional Hollywood establishment and the political ideology of Hollywood Leftism embedded within it. Ed Driscoll had a top notch post here at PJ Lifestyle yesterday. (I came it from a different angle in the conclusion of my Hollywood Revolt series at Big Hollywood here.) As the Hollywood Left's powerbase begins to crumble with the exponential growth of technology shattering their monopoly the opportunities will manifest for conservatives to emerge with entertaining properties of their own. So far we're seeing mixed results here and Ben Shapiro explains why in his recent interview with Ed (which you should really make a point to listen to):

Scripts (and all entertainments for that matter) cannot be conservative first and entertaining second. When they are they don't work. Conservatives cannot think, "Well I'm going to do what the Left does and make movies to further the Tea Party's agenda." #FAIL.

The path to nourishing the culture is not through politicized entertainment but rather through quality entertainment. Make a show with characters that are likable and admirable and viewers will watch it and it will inspire them to be better people. Make a show that values and promotes competition and rewards those who work hard to create extraordinary things for the rest of us. Then you'll be making a political point and advocating for conservative values without ever mentioning politics or in any way alienating the great mass of squishy, apolitical moderates. I can't teach my barely-political, Jon Stewart-adoring friends about how the American Idea works by just throwing Thomas Sowell books at them. But it's easy to turn on Shark Tank and enjoy an hour of quality TV with my friends before asking them, "So these greedy, fat cat investors making people's dreams come true... they don't 'need' to have so much money to start up these businesses do they? The 50K invested in this entrepreneur would have done much more good subsidizing the 99th week of somebody's unemployment insurance, right?"

Bonus: Read my very first article for a conservative publication in which I began to negotiate the terms of my surrender from the Left. It's a review of Dragons' Den at FrontPage Magazine and I wrote it in December of 2008.