So, occasionally I really enjoy something that is both hilarious and kind of embarrassing all at once, and I want to walk through the entire thing with everyone in the world so we can all talk about it together. Previously, it was The Catherine Cookson Experience, in which I congratulated an innumerable cadre of character actors as they made their way through a variety of situations about love, social commentary, and wearing half a basketball strapped to your waist to indicate your illegitimate pregnancy. Many people found love and happiness! Some people actually found a quality script! Some people just had to spend several weeks shooting scenes in a cave. (…a cave, really?)
In a key twist, since I hadn’t signed up for Netflix when I started this particular joyride, many of these priceless Cookson were screencapped directly from YouTube. This is something I might try to fix in the future; in the meantime, it turns out that developing any level of tolerance for that blurry nonsense was good news for the thing I want to share with you next!
Introducing, The Supersizers.
This show aired on the BBC in what was apparently 1792, never ever came out on DVD or to the States in any form ever, and finally made its way to YouTube, where I finally got hold of it, then spent so much time talking about it with other people that I realized it would honestly just save time to blog them instead of writing impossibly long emails six times. (It’s also available on Hulu now, so clearly now’s the time for a rewatch.)
What It’s Supposed to Be: A social-commentary program about a pair of modern Brits who accept a series of challenges to go back in time and eat the food of different eras of Britain’s history, making erudite commentary on cuisine, health, history, and society itself as they move through the banquets of the past.
What it Is: Delightful Sue Perkins and trying man-child Giles Coren get totally plastered while wearing historical garb and make a series of priceless faces as they stare at, then sometimes eat and make faces about, illuminating historical dishes, without passing out from how drunk they are because the producers supplied endless booze and that was a genius move. Featuring amazing reactions from various chefs, even more amazing reactions from various guests who clearly didn’t know what they were in for, and occasional bouts of Giles being hopelessly in love with openly-gay Sue, who is mostly concerned with not passing out from being in whatever clothing she’s trapped inside that week, and not being poisoned by tansy.
There is not a lot of cutting-edge political dissection in these episodes – attempts are made, but they’re often too busy trying to explain the taste of garum, a Roman condiment made from fish leavings that ferment outside in a jar, that was apparently used liberally, which leads to some amazing faces. We are usually observing middle- to upper-class food options, and since I have an actual category for Worst Thing Giles Says every episode, it’s definitely not a problem-free journey through time. However, it still ends up being pretty fun, both because these two have a chemistry that makes it interesting to watch them even when they are literally just chewing food, and because there’s a slapdash feeling to the entire show that makes the obvious setups charming and the off-script shenanigans more entertaining.
(A promo for the Twenties episode, in which a teddy bear features heavily, Sue learns to Charleston, and Giles drinks from a centerpiece.)
This will hopefully not be as sporadic a task as Catherine Cookson was, but I think it’s safe to say it will be an irregular series, full of fuzzy screencaps of truly questionable food. (The good news is, when you see it and think, “It can’t look that bad in better resolution,” you can just know whatever it is will look even less appetizing the better the resolution gets. The YouTube blur is a gift to you.
I’ll be going in order of air, which means that the first of these we’ll tackle is the hilarious and even-lower-budget-than-normal pilot episode, “Edwardian Supersize Me,” where they are clearly mostly strangers still, and we haven’t gotten to the part where they’re spitballing each other with frozen fruit yet (that’s The Fifties!). I hope you’ll join me!