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10 of Chris Queen's Greatest Hits

July 16, 2012:

7. Five Scenarios You Can Always Expect on Hell’s Kitchen

As much as I love television series with intricate plots, thought-provoking writing, and nuanced acting, when summer rolls around I find myself drawn to programming that’s, well, less mentally stimulating. That’s right -- my summer TV viewing drifts toward reality shows.

Since its debut in 2005, I’ve loved Hell’s Kitchen. The show’s tenth season airs on Fox at 8:00 Monday and Tuesday nights. Renowned chef Gordon Ramsay serves as host and judge, as well as a strange combination of mentor and drill sergeant. Ramsay puts challenges to his competitors each week with his controversial, abrasive style as the aspiring chefs fight for a sweet gig as head chef at a new 5-Star restaurant.

The contestants on Hell’s Kitchen display true passion and come from all walks of life. In the first few seasons the aspiring chefs seemed as earnest as they were talented and eager, but in latter seasons, the producers wised up to what reality viewers really want: soap-opera-style drama! This season viewers would be hard-pressed to find many contestants capable of running a restaurant kitchen. The would-be head chefs spend too much time smoking, drinking, partying, and fighting to appear serious as a head chef.

As entertaining as it is, Hell’s Kitchen comes across as pretty coarse viewing, especially when looking at its companion show, the far more refined and inspiring MasterChef, which also features Ramsay and airs immediately following Hell’s Kitchen. The censor on Hell’s Kitchen earns his keep, as profanity flies generously from both Ramsay and the contestants.

Like so many other summer television shows, Hell’s Kitchen is also pretty predictable. Viewers know exactly what to expect, which adds to the series’ entertainment value. Here’s a list counting down five scenarios that viewers can always expect to see without fail during Hell’s Kitchen.

5. One Team Dominates Challenges

Viewers can count on lopsided challenge wins by one team during a season of Hell’s Kitchen. Watching one team triumph in nearly every challenge, enjoying lavish rewards while the losers endure disgusting, humilating punishments has turned into a Hell’s Kitchen tradition. Dominance by one team appears to be even more prominent in the early stages of the season, but it happens all season long nonetheless.

This season, the red team -- comprised solely of women -- has won nearly every challenge Chef Ramsay can cook up, much to the consternation of the men on the blue team. Whether the challenges involve individual efforts or teamwork, the red team has managed to come out on top most of the time, often overcoming poor decision-making. The blue team is so unused to victory that they meet their rare wins with an attitude that resembles relief. It takes a combination of talent, teamwork, and luck to win the challenges, and the red team looks to have the formula down pat.

4. Teams Make A Mockery Of Unity

The teams on Hell's Kitchen lack the key needed for success: unity. The infighting and name calling never cease, even on the most successful teams. One team or another can pull themselves together to win a challenge or finish a dinner service and then tear each other apart in the dorms.

As successful as they are in challenges -- and often at dinner services -- the red team epitomizes disunity. One minute Barbie and Tiffany go at each others' throats, and the next Kimmie and Robyn shout each other down.

In fact, much of the conflict within the red team centered around Robyn until Chef Ramsay moved her to the decimated blue team.  By contrast, the blue team usually gets over their conflict much more quickly.