James May: Oh Cook

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
James May: Oh Cook TV Poster Image
Dry promotional reality show for May's British cookbook.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

It attempts to demonstrate that you can prepare simple, delicious dishes with basic ingredients in regular kitchens. It also highlights many of the tricks used to produce cooking shows. 

Positive Role Models

The cast is British. James May isn’t a great cook, but he’s honest about it. He is both respectful and appreciative of Nikki Morgan's help. 

Violence

There’s lots of cutting and chopping with knives and other kitchen instruments, but nothing violent. 

Sex

There are some mildly suggestive comments that will go straight over kids’ heads. 

Language

On occasion, May likes to describe things as looking like a "horse’s arse."  

Consumerism

The series is meant to promote the cookbook written by the host. Products like Spam are featured. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Wine is consumed while cooking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that James May: Oh Cook is a British cooking series designed to promote the release of a cookbook written by TV presenter James May. There’s some occasional strong language ("horse’s arse"), and some mild innuendo that will go over the heads of young viewers. Occasionally, product labels are visible, and some products (like Spam) are featured. Wine is also consumed throughout each installment of the show. 

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What's the story?

JAMES MAY: OH COOK is a British reality show featuring former Top Gear host James May as he hosts a cooking series without really knowing how to cook. May has been hired to write a cookbook that includes simple recipes that can be made with basic ingredients in a simple kitchen. Now he’s presenting these recipes in front of the camera for the accompanying TV show. As he prepares ingredients and cooks dishes, he reveals some of the TV production tricks used to make the cooking process -- and the finished plated products -- look easy and beautiful on popular cooking series. Also helping him through it is home economist Nikki Morgan, who pops in and out when he needs assistance. From Asian fusion dishes to pub-style food, May attempts to plate up some edible dishes, while the TV crew tries to keep things together. 

Is it any good?

Each 30-minute episode stars James May hosting a cooking show without relying on the traditional hosting style and food presentation elements the genre is known for. In addition to his dry banter, May breaks the fourth wall, and addresses the television crew directly as he cooks, which leads to some distracting moments. Thanks to the magic of editing, the meals are completed. But the range of awkward disruptions makes following the preparation process a little tedious at times.  

James May: Oh Cook features some interesting recipes, which May rounds out by offering some details about the history of certain ingredients. His inability to name some of the more sophisticated utensils or techniques he is using leads to some humorous moments. But the constant reminders about the cookbook he's writing makes the overall show feel more like a promotional vehicle than something designed to give good cooking advice. Nonetheless, folks who enjoy a combination of cooking details with British sarcasm might appreciate it.  

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about cooking. Do you ever cook things you’ve seen being prepared on cooking shows? Does the food look as good as it does on TV when you’re done? What tricks do TV producers use to make the food look appetizing and easy to make?

  • James May: Oh Cook  is a promotional vehicle for James May’s cookbook, but it also highlights some of production work that goes into a cooking show. Is there anything about the production process that surprises you? Does this information make you think differently about these types of TV programs?

  • Are there things about May and the meals he creates that feel distinctly British to you? What can we learn about other cultures and countries based on their culinary customs and creations? 

TV details

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