January 11th, 2017

rex, rome, primeval

stop dissing the Bronx -- an outdated rant about Feed the Beast

I wrote and recorded a "Couch Potato Salad" segment for The Chronic Rift, and it wound up not being used. It was a review of Feed the Beast, an AMC adaptation of a Danish show, which starred David Schwimmer, Jim Sturgess, and John Doman, and it had a portrayal of my home borough that pissed me right the fuck off.

The show is long since cancelled and forgotten, as it deserves, but my rant still applies, so I'm posting it here for posterity and in defense of the Bronx:


I started watching AMC's new show Feed the Beast when it first aired, and found myself unable to continue after about two or three episodes. The concept is a decent one. An adaptation of a Danish series called Bankerot, it's about three friends, the husband and wife team of Tommy and Rie and their best friend Dion, who intended to start a fancy restaurant called Thirio, until Rie died, Tommy fell into alcoholism and depression, and Dion went to jail after going bugnuts. After Dion is freed, he talks Tommy into going ahead with their plan, but it requires them to get into bed with a mobster and with Tommy's scuzzbucket father.

The acting in this is strong, with David Schwimmer selling the depressed Tommy, Jim Sturgess being rather convincing as the psychologically damaged master chef Dion, and John Doman knocking it out of the park (as he always does) as the bigoted father.

The problem I have is that the entire premise of the show is that they're opening a gourmet restaurant in the cultural and food wasteland of the Bronx, hoping that it will be the next big thing, because nobody's ever opened a good restaurant in the Bronx before.

I have lived in the Bronx for most of my life. As it happens, there are dozens of gourmet restaurants in the Bronx, particularly in Riverdale, in Little Italy, and on City Island. As a lifelong resident of the Boogie-Down, I am well and truly sick of people who assume that Fort Apache, The Bronx a) was a documentary and b) still applies to the Bronx 40 years later. News flash: it doesn't. To this day, when I tell people I live in the Bronx, I get confused stares and shocked looks and queries as to whether or not I carry a knife for protection. Drives me nuts.

The Bronx is, in fact, a lovely place with a diverse population and—and I can't emphasize this enough—tons of great restaurants. A pretentious hipster eatery like Thirio would barely even be noticed in a borough when people can go to Palace of Japan or Mario's or the Crab Shanty.

Oh, and for the record? Nobody who called himself "the tooth fairy" would last more than fifteen seconds as a gangster in New York City. Or anywhere in the United States, honestly.

So to the producers of Feed the Beast, I am glad that AMC cancelled your stupid show after one season, and I'm not at all sorry I didn't make it through the only season your unthinking little piece of crap got. Next time you're going to write a TV show that takes place in a real location, maybe take the time to learn about it before assuming you already know what it's like because you remember Howard Cosell saying, "Ladies and gentlemen, the Bronx is burning" during the 1977 World Series.
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