If you watched the Oscars last night, you no doubt saw an ABC promo for “Jamie’s Food Revolution,” in which you saw lots of heavyset people crying and thought to yourself, “Oh, so it’s like the Biggest Loser, only they keep their shirts on.”
But “Revolution” is another animal entirely. The show stars superstar British chef Jamie Oliver, and chronicles his efforts to get the people of Huntington, West Virginia (which is, per capita, America’s fattest city), to eat healthier by making their own food. Oliver is no stranger to massive social undertakings. His Fifteen restaurants are staffed almost exclusively with a constant rotation of underprivileged youths apprenticing in the food industry. The chain is a huge PR success, with four locations and any number of teenage success stories.
But getting the folks of Huntington to put down the Whoppers and grow their own vegetables? That might be a bit too much for even Oliver to tackle. While the ABC promo makes it look like “Jamie’s Food Revolution” is a heart-warming success, there are already hints behind the scenes that Oliver’s efforts may not have been as well-received as you may be led to believe. Check out this report from the Daily Mail from January:
Many (residents) refused to listen or participate during filming of the series.
"They don't understand me. They don't know why I'm here," the 34-year-old Oliver said, sobbing.
Some members of the local media were unapologetic about the community's strong resistance to Oliver and suggested he should have stayed away.
"We don't want to sit around and eat lettuce all day," said one radio announcer. "I don't think Jamie has anything that can change this town. He can try all he wants."
In another instance, father-of-three Oliver was shocked and frustrated by the failure of a group of schoolchildren to properly identify tomatoes -- mistakenly thinking they were potatoes, the Mail reports.
CBS also reports people in Huntington are angry that the show will forever brand them as comprising the fattest city in America. Of course, they ARE the fattest city in America, but I suppose they’re willing to overlook that minor detail.
Oliver has been a welcome presence on TV ever since the days of “Naked Chef” and “Oliver’s Twist.” It’s downright impossible to dislike the guy, unless you live in Huntington and he’s asking you to put down your cruller. The question about this new show is… Will ABC show the truly ugly details of Oliver’s efforts? Will they show Oliver failing in certain capacities? Because, to me, that is where the riveting drama lies.
People like Oliver, Alice Waters, and First Lady Michelle Obama have spent a great deal of time lately trying to convince unhealthy Americans that they can shape up by learning to grow and prepare their own food. I don’t need to tell you most Americans have likely tuned that message out. The question is if “Jamie’s Food Revolution” will end with anyone finally listening. Personally, I can’t wait to find out. The show airs March 26.