Come Dine With Me
We've established that I love reality/variety programs from other countries. I don't know how they do it, but somehow these shows capture my heart. One of my first foreign reality TV obsessions is the British dinner party competition show Come Dine With Me. Oh, Come Dine With Me, how I love you. I've held many a person hostage and forced them to watch episodes of this gem of a show until they agree that it is undeniably awesome. Allow me to take you hostage for a bit while I sell you on the greatest thing to come out of the UK since... well, since ever. Come Dine With Me follows four (sometimes five) people who have never met, but are tasked with throwing a dinner party for the other guests. Each person hosts the others in their home for one night, and in the course of a week everyone has been both a host and, multiple times, a guest. After each dinner party the guests give their host a score from 1-10 based on the food, entertainment, atmosphere, and their overall enjoyment. During the last dinner party the person with the highest score is revealed, and they win £1,000.
Each episode takes place in a different city in Britain, with hosts from various backgrounds, professions, religions, and dietary habits. Of course, the guests make judgements about each other - some become friends, others enemies. They even snoop through their hosts house while they're cooking to better judge them. We're talking rummaging though their underwear drawers. There's also a LOT of drinking. A lot. Once, a host asked if anyone wanted water or something other than wine with dinner, and the guests immediately answered, "No!" or "WHY?!"
There are some real weirdos on Come Dine With Me, but one of the great things about the show is that they don't purposely put people together that won't get along. They just find a diverse group and throw them together to see what happens. Sometimes people truly hate each other, and they actually fight during the dinner party (or dinner parties, if they hate each other enough to make their feud last all week). Other times they become good friends and promise to keep in touch. It all depends on the group.
We get to know a little about each of the hosts, and see the guests react to the menu, which they are given before the party. That way they can start judging each other before they've even met! We see the hosts shop for groceries, prepare their courses, and get their house and entertainment in order. Then of course we get to see the actual dinner party. All the while there is voiceover commentary from comedian Dave Lamb, who's pretty judgmental himself.
Finding Come Dine With Me in America is pretty hit or miss. On Comcast On Demand they occasionally have as many as 30 episodes available, but they come and go with no warning. There are some sites where you can stream episodes, and there are a lot of clips on YouTube. I hear the show is broadcast in Canada, and that Canada even has their own version, those lucky dogs. According to Wikipedia there is (or was) an American version on TLC called Dinner Takes All, but I've never heard of it. But I do like Four Weddings, which is basically Come Dine With Me but with brides judging each other's weddings. It doesn't have the British charm of Come Dine With Me though. Plus you learn things, like what the fuck banoffee pie is.