A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this restaurant-set British reality series comes with a strong-language advisory for good reason, since star Gordon Ramsay makes no effort to temper his infamously foul mouth in other people's kitchens. "Damn," "ass," and "s--t" are used frequently (and are all unbleeped), but nothing is as popular as Ramsay's many variations on "f--k" (that one is bleeped, sometimes so frequently that it's hard to understand the surrounding dialogue). He's also rudely critical of restaurant employees' and owners' shortcomings and doesn't shy away from personal attacks.
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What's the story?
Your finances are in the red, your kitchen staff is on a smoke break, and you can count the folks in your dining room on one hand. When your restaurant is in need of professional intervention, who can you call? Why, Gordon Ramsay, of course. In RAMSAY'S KITCHEN NIGHTMARES, the renowned British restaurateur makes "restaurant calls" to nitpick the shortcomings of troubled food establishments and help the owners rebuild their businesses in a matter of weeks. In each episode, Ramsay visits a failing restaurant to observe its functionality and assess the reasons for its decline. He observes the meal-preparation process, pokes through the refrigerators, analyzes the menu choices, and gathers data about the patron base, all in an effort to help redesign the owner's plan for attracting and maintaining clientele.
Is it any good?
Viewers familiar with Ramsay's fiery brand of criticism will expect nothing less than the brutal honesty he brings to his consulting gig; tensions rise quickly as he lashes out at everyone he feels is coming up short. No one's feelings are spared as Ramsay hurls red-letter insults for inefficiency, lack of skill, and sloppy work habits. But when he turns his efforts to teaching, he shows a bit more patience -- and it's here that his true expertise shows through. Ramsay helps owners simplify their business plan, honing in on a customer base and designing menu choices to match their needs. He teaches chefs how to cut costs and increase efficiency -- and, in some extreme cases, how to cook.
If you like your entertainment brimming with confrontation and tense moments, Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares is right up your alley; if not, you might want to pass. It feels more like a soap box from which the foul-mouthed chef can unleash his fury of insults and four-letter words than anything else, and by the end of each hour, the process of weeding through bleeps (which replace his favorite word, "f--k") to cobble together the actual dialogue becomes tiresome. There's so little actual substance here that there's no reason to think you'll be missing anything by turning it off.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why larger-than-life personalities like Ramsay are the bread and butter of reality TV. Is Ramsay TV-worthy? Why or why not? Families can also discuss giving and receiving criticism. Why is it sometimes hard to take criticism? How do you react to it? Do you ever find it difficult to critique someone else's work? Does it make a difference whether the person is a friend or not? Why or why not? How does Ramsay's aggressive demeanor affect how his critiques are received?