Being one of the most popular and lucrative forms of entertainment, it’s no surprise that networks continue to air new reality shows every year. From dating shows to hidden cams to documentary-style series, these shows continue to dominate the market. And of course, inspiration has to come from somewhere. But are all forms of inspiration appropriate for developing into reality TV?
For over 25 years, one of the world’s most popular reality TV stars has been chef Gordon Ramsay. He has over 20 cooking reality TV show credits under his belt and is a general household name due to his aggressive nature, creative slurs and, of course, great cooking skills. One of his most recent series is a cooking competition show called Senior Level Leader. It’s quite a different style from most cooking contests, and her gimmick looks quite creative. However, many have pointed to its plot being eerily similar to a Spanish horror movie.
At Senior Level Leader, Ramsay and two other celebrity chefs named Nyesha Harrington and Richard Blais. Each chef is a mentor to their own team and in each episode, teams are given a cooking task to complete. The gimmick comes into play as each team is also randomly assigned a kitchen to cook in. Three kitchens are stacked on top of each other, with the top floor containing state-of-the-art appliances. The middle level is a standard commercial kitchen, and the lower level is limited in equipment and quality. To reinforce the advantage of being on the next level, ingredients are picked from a platform that starts at the top and descends. Competitors have 30 seconds to grab what they need, and the lower tier collects the leftovers.
The premise of Senior Level Leader is a bit odd, as the ability to succeed seems to be just the luck of the draw. However, the fact may be that the best chef can whip up an amazing meal with poor quality equipment and leftover ingredients. It’s a seemingly unique premise for a series that promises drama and tension. Considering there’s a horror movie on Netflix with an incredibly similar plot at play, only released in 2020, it’s hard to believe this idea came out of nowhere.
spanish horror movie The platform also involves a food platform that moves through levels of people. However, the characters in this film are not chefs in a cooking competition. They are prisoners in a vertical tower and are randomly switched between several levels. The food platform is what delivers their meals, meaning the top tier is basically provided with a feast while the lower tiers only get leftovers, often left in disgusting condition. The film is incredibly hard to watch for those with weak stomachs and there are some very heavy scenes and mature themes throughout.
Given the creative idea and social experience-style plot, it might not be a stretch to think that this concept would be used in other media. Of course, other serious works have been used as inspiration for reality TV shows, including the incredibly popular Big Brother inspired by George Orwell’s novel 1984. There are still criticisms of this choice however due to the socio-political themes of this film and how they seem to be contradicted by using the concept of how Senior Level Leader Is it that.
The platform has a real message about greed and overconsumption. On the platform, there really is enough food for everyone, but because the people at the top are greedy, those at the bottom suffer. This echoes what tends to happen in the world, as wealthy people and nations use up a lot of resources while others starve when there is more than enough for everyone. People particularly resonated with this kind of message at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic as people hoarded resources for themselves while others went without for no real reason.
To use something with that kind of message in a cooking contest show, where lots of fresh food and good ingredients are used for no good reason, is weird. Surely it’s interesting to watch, but it’s wasteful in concept and uses The platformThe plot to do exactly what the film criticizes. That doesn’t mean the show isn’t good or that Gordon Ramsay is a bad person, especially since it’s a great opportunity for people who dream of getting into the cooking business. But it does cause pause to think, and it’s an odd juxtaposition.
Senior Level Leader Certainly won’t be the last reality TV series to take inspiration from a famous movie or book, because ideas for new shows have to come from somewhere. Although there was no extreme outrage over the similarities between the show and The platform, those who saw the film absolutely noticed it and there were some criticisms. Perhaps this could be an example for future showrunners, and a sign to be careful about the message they convey with their shows and their inspirational choices.
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