What Anthony Bourdain Really Thought About Adam Richman's Man V. Food

Anthony Bourdain was the kind of person who was, as a rule, pretty open about what he really thought. So, when during a 2015 live appearance in Atlanta for his Close to the Bone tour, Bourdain opened up about the show Man v. Food, he went straight to the point. As Cinema Blend writes, Bourdain highlighted the show's popularity in Iran. "The show confirms their worst suspicions — that Americans are fat, lazy, slothful, wasteful. I know what he's thinking, 'America is a terrible place. I want to join ISIS.'"

The Cinema Blend writer considers this a "harsh thing to say" about Adam Richman, host of Man v. Food. The "second bruising comment about Richman and his eating habits" that Bourdain makes is when he asks "Why did we watch that show? Admit it. You wanted him to die."

What Cinema Blend seemed unable or unwilling to pick up was that while Richman may be implicated in the techniques lobbed by Bourdain, their bigger target was the show itself and the audience to whom it catered. As Grub Street managed to notice, the ISIS remark confirmed that the show proves the worst stereotypes of America's obscene eating true. 

Bourdain and Richman make two very different types of shows

A second way to consider Bourdain's bristliness towards Man v. Food is to look at the difference in attitude towards food in his and Richman's shows. The Food Network's website sums up the introduction of the new host Casey Webb to Man v. Food as "New man, new food — same epic battle."

While entertaining because we may hope for Webb's demise, the aggressive orientation towards food differs drastically from Bourdain's shows, which tended towards the more explorative. "In a narrative that would become more familiar and mainstream in later projects, in A Cook's Tour," Eater explained, "Bourdain ate what the locals ate, and since he was visiting places that were unfamiliar for many American viewers, he was eating things many Americans had never seen." It's little wonder, then, that he would have no time for a show that places its prime focus on outrageous acts of eating.

But, it should be said that Bourdain's remarks were not the most bruising or cutting Man v. Food has received. Those may come from the original writer of Black Mirror Charlie Brooker's review of the show for The Guardian. Booker lays graphic detail upon graphic detail until he contemplates the day after shooting when Richman, inevitably, has to use the toilet after the previous day's hedonism. Perhaps then we would see the food finally kill the man, as Bourdin suspects our wish to be.