Jamie Oliver gets emotional about obesity in America in his new show, “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution” — like, really emotional. Then, America gets defensive about being fat. The result? An hour’s worth of somewhat disturbing, very frustrating, yet well intentioned reality television. Reshaping an American town’s eating habits can be far more entertaining than simply watching a bunch of parents and kids diet.
“Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution”
Fridays at 9 p.m.
It’s probably prudent to just come out and say it: Jamie Oliver (“Jamie at Home”), while a sincere man who is genuinely concerned with the state of health in America, is kind of nuts. Impassioned in the face of heart disease and diabetes, he flips out when confronted with the “Aladdin’s cave of processed crap” (a.k.a., the freezer of an elementary school) and angrily bitches at the kids when they throw out their healthy food in exchange for pizza. “You didn’t want your kiwi, didn’t like your fruit, didn’t like your bread roll” he rants, aggressively banging the trays of food into the trash while the children look at him like he’s crazy. A superhero of such intense and righteous anger, he’s comparable to Morgan Spurlock from “Super Size Me” when he threatens to smack his kids every time they see a McDonald’s.
While it’s true that he does get a bit extreme — telling a woman she was killing herself and her children with their eating habits — he does make a number of excellent points. And he clearly means well, as you can tell from his red face and teary eyes. While looking through the elementary school cafeteria and observing what’s in the chicken nuggets and potatoes, he concedes that he understands he’s bitching about it. But he goes on to justify his anger by saying: “If you’re a parent, it should piss you off too.”
Oliver is faced with quite a stubbornly defensive town. There are a lot of set-in-their-ways school lunch ladies who don’t want their meal plans screwed around with, and more than a few who believe he can’t accomplish actual change. Yet this opposition isn’t completely unfounded. There certainly is some doubt as to whether Oliver can really accomplish what he means to do, especially when the school principal has him serving his healthy food as an option alongside the lunch ladies’ chocolate milk and pizza. Even an idiot knows you don’t give kids a choice if you want them to make the right one.
However, this feeling of futility and his underdog status does make us root for him, even when he repeatedly shouts “welcome to America” in his frustration. We get it Oliver, you’re British. If the two or three times you mentioned it didn’t get the point across, your accent surely did the trick.
But most people of the town do seem to need, and often genuinely want, the help. Huntington, W. Va. is introduced as one of the most rampantly obese towns in America. Many locals seem to be looking to change. Even if they’re sometimes skeptical, there’s a glimmer of hope. Few are as enthusiastic about having the show in town as the local preacher, who says “I believe that God has you guys here.” It’s difficult to question the good intentions of a show that seeks to teach healthy eating habits, even taking into account the financial difficulties this can present.
All in all, “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution” is surely worth a watch. However, you may want to peel a few carrots and eat an apple in lieu of popcorn, unless you want to be cowering terrified behind your couch by the end of the show.