Reading Between the (Top Chef Judge's) Lines
Parataxis: a lack of syntax. In literary terms, it’s the placement of two seemingly unrelated statements next to each other, leaving the observer to create the unspoken connection.
Consider then the assembled statements - made in different places and at different times by Bravo head judge Tom Colicchio - regarding producer interference with elimination decisions on his reality-cum-talent show Top Chef.
Colicchio is quoted in New York Magazine this week for a lengthy Bravo reality show exposé. He claims his producers don’t attempt to influence show judging. His example is that one popular contestant "would never have been eliminated if it were up to the producers."
I deduce that producers must at least be telling the judges their desires – otherwise, how could Colicchio make this observation? If the producers are trying to voice their preferences without implying that judges should fall in step, they’re walking a thinly implicated line. I, personally, would never be able to manage it.
Colicchio drops other misty details, like the producers’ past insistence on casting the show more for reality-star personalities than cooking talent. Really!…And yet you say they remain hands-off in the ongoing reverse-casting of which chefs will stay and which will go, when the matter involves engaging viewers?
SPOILER: Finally, take last night’s most recent episode of Top Chef. Two contestants are singled out as the clear bottom of the elimination pile. Howie panics, and begins pushing all the blame on his teammate, Sara. She responds to his backstabbing with restraint and tears. The judges confer. It seems both dishes had problems. It also seems both contestants have their own ongoing faults. It also seems (to me) that the now-despisable Howie has more potential to create reality-esque drama in future episodes, and that Sara will be eliminated.
And this is exactly what happens.
And what does the head judge say – what does Tom Colicchio say, as he faces the contestants, giving them his reason for eliminating the milder Sara?
"We have two completely different personalities. Probably, for this competition, one of you is better suited."
For this competition. Better suited. Who knows what to believe?