Anthony Bourdain exposing reality TV like only he can

Anthony Bourdain exposing reality TV like only he can

I got the impression that this is a sad and bizarre thing the guy does for paying tourists/clients, and nothing to do with a side of reality tv that's been exposed.

By the way, the whole episode is worth watching (I never took to many of Bourdain's other shows, but Parts Unknown has been a joy to watch throughout) as Bourdain later narrates that he didn't appear in some of the later scenes due to still sulking about what went on in this video clip.


I think people are debating different things. I'm not personally under any impression that documentaries (and particuarly, the spin-off realm of 'reality tv') aren't using contrived scenes. I'm just saying that I don't get the impression in this particular episode that a tv crew is staging it for tv, that I believe that it's a tour experience advertised as catching fish then cooking them that's doing it. Although it's not explicitly spelt out if you watch the full episode, I'd hesitate to wager an opinion on the matter without doing so as it offers more insight.

I get the impression that Bourdain is close to his production crew (ZPZ) and they're not some randomers who messed up after the years they've worked together. I think if a fixer or scout was involved in rigging this it would have been mentioned and there would have been open discussions about it during moments they weren't planning on using. Bourdain mentions nobody's saying anything, which to me suggests an uncomfortable politeness with the show their tour operator is putting on.

His own writings on the matter are a bit ambiguous. This site suggests it was the tour operator's doing but I don't know if that's based on a source:

OP fix your title. This has nothing to do with 'exposing reality TV'. This wasn't staged by the production crew, it was something the fisherman did - someone they paid, to take them go fishing.

When I saw this episode on Netflix, I was shocked at how this scene played out. I'm glad Bourdain and his crew left this clip to show what really happened. I believe an episode of Bizzare Foods did the same thing if I remember correctly, but the excuse was that they couldn't catch anything.

Yeah. The guy goes on to cook the food and the episode continues for a good portion some Anthony gets shitfaced and has a crisis about his job.

Things like this are why I like Bourdain.

There's another scene from another episode where Bourdain is getting testy with his crew and generally has a bad attitude. There's nothing likable about his behavior.

He could have had that edited out, but he let it get put into the show. He's humble enough to let the world see him in his bad moments. And in his narration, he calls himself out. It shows he's not a hypocrite. He's willing to criticize others for pulling stupid shit, and he's just as willing to criticize himself.

Anthony gets shitfaced and has a crisis about his job.

I love this dude

After this happens he gets dinner at this guy's restaurant, but by the time he gets there he's three sheets to the wind and says he doesn't remember the dinner at all.

"What am I doing with my life? I smell like fish and smoke. I'm sticky with sweat. It's 115 degrees in this kitchen. The guests have no idea what good food tastes like. That fucking steak she sent back was cooked perfectly. Servers are making more money than I am. The hostess won't acknowledge me.... then again I hate people. Maybe this is perfect..."

Fucking gone/wasted/so many antebellum mansions.

Nightly event for most Chefs.

Thanks for clarifying this. I was watching the video and trying to come to a conclusion based off the title and it just didn't make sense. The way the op worded it was like Bourdain was trying to expose his own show for faking this.

I believe its the scene where he is trying to prepare that chicken with that horribly dull knife on that river boat as they were losing sunlight. Great episode

Splash. This is so ridiculous that it's hilarious

This has nothing to do with reality TV though.

I think the Congo one. He spends like half the episode on this boat going up the river and you can tell that after a few hours, he's just miserable and the he knows it's never going to get any better. He gets really frustrated trying to make this sauce using chicken blood or something and a bunch of McGyvered tools.

The whole situation is kind of multiplied by his clear disappointment in just the general situation, as the Congo was somewhere he had really wanted to visit. Now that he's finally there, it's clear that he was wrong about it.

Basically, the whole "Never meet your heroes" thing applies to locations too, I guess.

/u/spez can

3 sheets to the wind?

I truly love this man

Reality TV professional here. This is not exposing reality TV, this is exposing this shitty tour operator. If he was exposing reality TV he would explain how they knew this was going to happen all along and that it was set up this way by the local fixer who knows this tour operator is a fraud.

Now we both know..

Unfortunately it is reality TV. Camera, crew, travel etc is expensive. Wildlife is particularly unpredictable. So instead of going hours out and maybe catching nothing. They can leave 5 minutes from port and get it done in a couple of hours. source : underwater photographer who formerly worked in reality tv. (and quit once this happened one too many times)

edit: Lots of comments blaming the fisherman. That's true. However the production company set this up. He is (assuming) known to work with TV crews. This is one of the "norms" of the industry that get established when production companies pressure to take short cuts...or "cheats" as they call them. It happens in a lot of industries. It happens with diving professionals as well. Abusing wildlife to get a photo, show a client etc. There are ones in the industry that punish those that do it. Bourdain/His crew is one of them.

You're totally right. The title doesn't make any sense, this has nothing to do with reality tv.

At least this beer was free........

He's mentioned in previous episodes of "No Reservations" that he finds these "fishing trips" really annoying because they almost always have to fake them. Almost this same thing happened when he was fishing with cormorants in China.

It's interesting that he shit-talks his own show ON the show itself.

The production company, editorial house, and post company could all be separate. So they hire an Italian production company to make sure everything is in order. Then they send over the talent and, important crew and producers from the US. They shoot it and an editorial house pulls selects. They have a issue so they talk to the US production company on how they want to proceed with obviously fake footage with literally no shots of live animals. They consider getting stock shots from Pond5 to splice in but they make a decision to just point out how ridiculous the situation is.

I don't grt it. Why did the production company set it up only for it to be destroyed by the host?

Yes, it was.

Every chick on tinder goes SO WHATS YOUR FAVORITE THING TO COOK? I have to say hey, I'm a professional, I have many favorite things to cook. It depends on the setting on what I would love to cook for the occasion.

antebellum mansions ?

It was getting too dark to cook so they had to resort to using the generator lights. What did the generator lights bring? A giant swarm of mosquitos and other Congolese bugs. Just a horrible situation lol

I'm pretty sure you're not able to fix titles.

There are editorial houses but for a show like this and most shows the editorial staff is hired by the US production company which forms the Post Department. Production and the show runners work directly with the editors including Anthony. Pulling selects is one step in hundreds, and is barely the first step. The editors and producers work on the assembly cut. It's a complete episode front to back with sound and music and all the scenes in place. It's usually "heavy" by minutes, meaning it's too long to air. Then Anthony gets a pass. The back and forth between Anthony and the editors could be as brief as typed notes to full on sitting in the edit bay with the editor and working on the acts. In this case, Anthony, being an EP of the show most likely wanted the scene to play out like how you see it to send his message. I.e. He did not want to fake it. He could have waited until this point to have them cut it this way, or he could have had this mandate early on for the assembly cut. Regardless, once Anthony is done it's called the internal rough cut. It's is then sent to the production company for notes. Anthony, being both host and EP might also be the owner of the Production Company, so for this show, this step might be skipped. In other, typical cases where the EP isn't the same person as the Production Company, there is back and forth, more notes then the rough cut is sent to network. Notes from network come back and there is a back and forth of sending revised cuts called net cut 1, net cut 2 etc until there is a fine cut. One more round of notes and then the locked cut is presented. That's the last chance for picture and sound notes. Then the episode is locked.

Source: 10 year editing and producing veteran of film and tv, both scripted and non-scripted.

Yes! And this was an ongoing joke in No Reservations, as well; he would say there's no way in hell they would ever actually have the luck to catch anything while filming. They caught a thawing lobster in one of the episodes in the Caribbean to use in a cooking scene on a beach later on, but I can't seem to find the episode. When they took him duck hunting in the Ozarks and were able to actually shoot something, he commented on how amazing it was that they actually got something: edit: Just realized the clip I attached doesn't show his comment on the pile of dead ducks, but the full episode shows it.

Pre-civil war era mansions/plantations in the south. Many were burned as a result of the war.

After 5 minutes , I am still perplexed on how this has anything to do with reality tv...someone please enlighten me

OP thought it was the production company doing the staging. Popular opinion is that it was the guide who was nefarious.

I also remember him saying something great during his AMA.

He talked about the food he's served by people. He said something like he always treats it the same as grandma's food. You smile and eat it even if you don't really enjoy it.

As long as his host isn't doing anything wrong (like the tour guide in the video) he's a very gracious guest.

He's done things like eat congealed blood from a fresh kill because the tribe he was with thought of it as a great honor. You can see from his body language he's not enjoying it, but he puts on a big smile, takes a big bite and keeps on smiling.

Street slang turned history lesson

I believe he said that was the inspiration for the whole trip. However, he had somewhat romanticized it all in his head (in only a way Bourdain can) and once the reality started to smack him in the face, it all came crashing down. Anthony Bourdain is pretty open about his thoughts and feelings, but I think this one left him frustrated because there wasn't really a way he could put into words what he was felling. I think part of it was because he'd hyped it up so much to himself and it fell so flat, and part of it was because he knew he was doing it...and he's been enough places to know he shouldn't.

And worse yet, he could't just write it off as "The congo having a bad day" like you might be able to do with a person that disappointed you. It was the reality that 'Goddamn dude, the Congo really isn't what I thought it was'

That was a breath of fresh air. I felt like I was watching the actual potential TV could have. Real things, real interests, real problems... it's like it's standing atop the dead Octopus corpse of fake TV.

Its the octopus video, isn't it?

The splashes were also added in post-production though.

Lots of stress, lots of hours, lots of where the fuck is fedex with my goddamn fish overnighted from Hawaii? If I don't get that shit in the house and cut before 4 I'm going to have to push this fucking special back til tomorrow and lose $$ on prep and labor. If I can just make it through tonight that beer is gonna taste so daaaamn good. Good thing I drink for cheap around town because I am gonna have issues paying rent this month. (I don't personally have these issues, but this is common)

However the production company set this up.

except Bourdain always goes out of his way to point out the disasters if their fishing trips. every time it happens.

And there's you with your carefully crafted, personalised responses related to each portion of their profile

Really drunk.

There's a specific type of insidious Reddit asshole that can (and will) explain something in very official sounding language despite having no actual knowledge of the subject. I can't figure out if it's just a bunch of dumb know-it-alls or trolls hellbent on spreading misinformation.

I've been a long time Bourdain fan and there have been a number of episodes where he calls out putting a dead fish on the line (I think the Harbin episode comes to mind) but this was the most blatant calling out of it. I don't know if 1) He specifically wrote it as theme for the show or general commentary on reality TV (subtly pointing out you can't just show up and get a perfect catch like Reality TV likes to imply) 2) He had some Travel Channel producer arranging things he didn't like (I think there were some situations where ZPZ didn't have complete autonomy) 3) someone new on the ZPZ crew thought it would be a good idea 4) a common problem that occurs with the fixers trying to be "helpful" 5) ZPZ/Bourdain/Someone thought it would be a good idea so they tried it but it didn't work out or left a bad taste in their mouth so they spun it. The latter I don't know because as I said this seems to be a reoccurring theme in several episodes and I'd expect them to learn their lesson.

Spez pls

I remember this episode so vividly. I felt so damn bad for him during the process. I can't comprehend why they kept latching onto this chef for the rest of the episode, but I sort of went with it out of ongoing spite.

Also, despite what everyone else has already said to you, there is an EXCELLENT show called, "Three Sheets" with Zane Lamprey about drinking in different countries/cultures. Probably one of my favorite shows of all time. Wish it hadn't been cancelled.

These shoots are planned months ahead. For fear of having nothing, they kept shooting. In the end, they probably had to include this footage because they wouldn't have a complete tv episode otherwise so Anthony decided to not beat around the bush and show what really happened.

Just say grilled cheese.

I was under the impression the guy did this so he could cook the food at his restaurant and tell the customers that all the seafood was "pulled from the sea" just earlier today. I mean, he's not lying...

Happens a lot in Eco-Tourism. Recently in Costa Rica and stayed at a nice hotel on a volcano park that does morning nature walks. I figured out the animals are conditioned to show up to get fed by humans.

That being said the Mediterranean Sea has largely been over-fished. If you're eating seafood in say Barcelona it probably came from Northern Spain from the Biscay Bay.

I feel like that's true of any profession. I'm a mechanic and I've just started avoiding any threads about cars due to so many fundamental misunderstandings about my line of work.

As a professional editor, dont you know better than to come into these "Reddit talks Production" threads? So much misinformation is so highly upvoted in this thread it's hard to know where to start.


Maybe he doesn't have any kids, which may be an integral part to octopus beating, so frozen dead octopus is the second best option.

Maybe he was doing a Heart of Darkness bit.

And no response 80% of the time. Or something like "lol idk". You're almost 30 years old, USE WORDS.

He does seem quite complementary about the meal, at least. Though the funniest part of the scene is the random couple Bourdain is eating with. The wife does not seem happy at all about the current circumstances.

Hypocrisy? They didn't expect there to be any audio necessary in the water- why would they? So when they're in post they add the splashes or else the viewer wouldn't really understand what's going on as quickly and it adds a level of humor.

There also wasn't whimsical music in the background when he went swimming- is that hypocrisy too? Also Anthony Bourdain wasn't free associating in a disembodied voice during the events. MORE HYPOCRISY!

I have been to this very town in Sicily multiple times, and swam and taken boats around in that very bay. I also lived in northern Sicily at one point. I was laughing super hard at this part of the episode because it was not surprising to me at all. Sicily is awesome and I love going back to visit, but it had a bit of a, uh, janky side. The episode captures the love-hate many people feel towards Sicily. People go there expecting an Amalfi coast or Capri type experience. Luxurious and picturesque and romance. It is gorgeous there, and yes parts do look a lot like Capri. The food is outrageously delicious. The people are extremely hit and miss though. You typically get one of 2 types: people who are grouchy as fuck and when you try to buy something from them (be it food or clothes or a service) they act like "how dare you ask me to do my job". The other type is the romantic idea we have of Italians: hospitable, jovial, flirtatious, and proud to show off their culture. You see a bit less of those types than the grouchy types. One thing they both have in common is a flair for drama, good or bad. It's super entertaining to say the least.


Heroin, and the love of the cooking game.

PS: You guys if you have never read his books you will be delighted by them.

The latter. Fishing scenes for Bourdain shows are notoriously bad. He never cought anything at all on any of his shows: A Chefs Tour, No Reservations, Parts Unknown, they always end up bad either to weather conditions or not catching fuck all so they always had "backup dead fish" just for the scene. He mentions it at almost every fishing scene.

The setup of this scene was to spearfish octopus, but the boat anchored in a very touristic spot where it was obvious there was nothing to fish so they used the back up dead octopus and he just couldn't cope with it that they had to fake something stupid again for the viewers.

So in the edit he went another way made it pretty clear he was upset with the whole scene.

The Madagascar episode also gives viewers a reality check: in the episode he's traveling on the train with the director of Black Swan and they stop at a station to buy some food which they at the end handed out to the many hungry children at the stations. It was edited in a nice feel good way.

At the end of the same episode he showed the reality of that scene and the hungry kids were swamping and grabbing anything they could get and it showed a whole different vibe.

That's why I like Bourdain, he's not afraid to show the truth on his own shows.

Yep, he always points out that he's more famous for NOT catching fish than having any luck. The look on his face in every fishing let down is priceless.

id guess bourdain hired some tour guide/tour company who he thought could get results , and they tried to guarentee that they did.

Then he's exposing the tour guides, not "reality tv".

My brother does production work for 'reality' TV and you wouldn't believe how many things aren't true. One story stands out in particular. One episode they were shooting involved "finding" an old 4 wheeler that the host was going to use the engine out of to make some makeshift thing (I think it was a hot-tub in the woods or something you'd never need to make). The host acted like he'd discovered this abandoned machine in the woods when it was really a brand new one that my brother and his crew had purposely distressed (read: hit with hammers and covered with dirt) to make it look old and dirty.

Anthony probably wouldn't be pointing out the hypocrisy of this scene if it was his own producers that did it. As others have said, it was probably the fisherman and his crew that does this for tourists.

Exactly. Anthony did not request this gentleman to fake the catch. The guy decided to do that on his own.

OP is stupid and you cannot fake that.

Are we talking about Parts Unknown? I'd say he looks revitalized as hell on that show compared to the last season or 2 on No Reservations. He was really unhappy on the network, and the shift to CNN let him pick his destinations. And he's able to go to very remote areas since CNN has infrastructure to put feet on the ground nearly anywhere in the world.

If you're just talking fishing scenes, yes...he's said numerous times on ALL of his series, that he despises fishing because it never seems to turn out.

HIS production company produces this show.

I was expecting a swerve, but the swerve never came.

I think it's just people looking for validation.

It appears after cuts and is too well pronounced

Up until watching this and reading this I hated anything this man did. Now having read this I'm moved by the fact that he called himself out about his bad attitude. It takes a big man to do that.

This clip alone does not do the title justice. In the rest of the episode (if I remember correctly), he bashes the producers for scripting the event and gets wasted in the process.

I was surprised that they still let him air that particular episode but if Anthony's brutal honesty and authenticity makes him an award-winning filmmaker, then hey let's trust his judgment and air it anyways is probably what the producers said.

Come on now, I think it is pretty obvious from the way they filmed it, that it was something the local fisherman did, and they just went with it and kept it in the show because they thought it was hilarious. If you had ever seen Parts Unknown you would know that this is right up their alley in terms of style and humour. If it was set up by Bourdains production crew, they would never have filmed and edited it like this in a million years.

Yup. I worked on one reality tv show in which the neighbours are feuding and complaining about the noise of next door neighbour's band rehearsal. The noise meter didn't even move when we tested it with the band playing. What did we do? The director had us all stand around and yell at the meter to get it to move.

I know of another reality show about metal detecting and the producer says "hey why don't you go back over to this area and swing your detector for a shot". The metal detector guy goes over to the area he already cleared earlier and immediately gets a hit close to the surface. The producer buried an old coin just to get a shot.

All reality TV is bullshit.

It's the scene where he is trying to prepare that chicken with that horribly dull knife on that river boat as they were losing sunlight.

I usually say hamburger helper actually. I guess there's a reason I'll die alone smelling like french fries and scallops.

Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unkown - Season 2 - Episode 5 - Sicily on Netflix.

I didn't know he was the Bastard Chef on Archer..

I've worked in a couple restaurants. What is it about excellent chefs being alcoholics, and constantly in existential crisis?

It's my favorite episode from the series, hands down. Cue fresh frozen dead octopus

IIRC, the whole episode had an Apocalypse Now theme.

I still think that the emotions were displayed with sincerity.

I've watched most of No Reservations. It didn't do it for me. I think it was also ZPZ working on it? Their abilities to capture and present a feeling (whether accurate or not) rocketed with Parts Unknown in my opinion. I lived in one of the more obscure countries they documented for a while and Parts Uknown's depiction is the only show that's come close to the feeling I had from living there.

Best quote of the episode:

"I must have sulked back to bed somehow, collapsed into a sodden drunken heap of self loathing. I would have ordinarily turned on the porn channel and loaded up on prescription meds, but there's no TV at Agriturismo."

Which episode is it

This seems like a very likely answer but it's odd! I went to Greece octopus fishing(sort of), we'd go out as the sun just set in an old boat with a big old lantern at the back and row out a bit. Every 100 meters or so the fisherman had laid a clay pipe no more than 5 meters down, and when we got to it he lowered a hook that looked like grappling hook with bait in the middle just next to the pipe and out came the octopus to attack and he just yanked it up, job done. He'd keep it alive over night then the next day his kids would kill it and thread some rope through it and beat the bejesus outta that thing on a big flat rock. It seemed so simple, why wouldn't this guy just do the same thing?

"I PA'd on two sub-TruTV level reality shows and I can say definitively that all reality is fake"

I worked on a few cooking competition shows and can confirm that the shows that have professionals competing for a cash prize are very real.

That's all hearsay. No evidence the "production company" set that up.

Apocalypse now was based on Heart of Darkness, rather loosely (Vietnam instead of the Congo). I love both.

I never took to many of Bourdain's other shows, but Parts Unknown has been a joy to watch throughout

Parts Unknown is pretty much an edgier version of No Reservations--I would recommend not ignoring No Reservations.

The chef community in my town is pretty cool. We drink together a lot.

I urge everyone here to please read Kitchen Confidential.

He really is the only tv host that seems to be actually genuine. My favorite travel/food personality hands down. Plus he usually gives an honest representation of the places he visits. He goes to Madagascar and doesn't just treat it as a tropical wonderland. He instead talks to the people their about how eco-tourism is kind of double edged sword that brings money to the island, but also preserves a sort of colonial social structure with the natives stuck in the service industry with minimal progress in sectors that have room for real growth. had never thought of it that way.