Parasocial party people

Having nowhere to go but the internet for so long has had some strange effects on the telly people. Some have taken it better than others, a full spectrum from reclusive to ham-handed reaction videos to frankly loosing their minds; but short on human company as we have been, we’ll take it if it’s all that’s on offer (there might be an Only Fans joke to be made at this point. Just not by me). Content has been produced, experiences have been observed if not shared, expectations have been both lowered and confounded. Transformations have been wrought.

Alton Brown, veteran of American food tv, and his wife Elizabeth, a designer, started posting videos on Youtube over the first US quarantine, possibly out of sheer boredom, but it has stuck, and they still post hour-plus shows most Tuesday nights. The contrast to his career programs, all authority and slick production, is startling. Unscripted, shot on an iPhone and prone to technical wipeouts, their shows are a joy, although full of things that no doubt have producers, lawyers and food technologists prostrate with horror. Food gets burned, dropped on the floor, fed to their dogs. Ingredients are missing, or rancid in the fridge; they talk at cross purposes, interrupt each other, bicker and play pranks. Liquor, swearing, irascible rants and the occasional immolated iPhone (BBQ night…) have surprised viewers more used to the regular network shows, and regular comments are posted on the harm to his career. But tired, stressed, bored and buffeted by the chaos of the world like the rest of us, they invited the internet in and tried to keep it company; and they are good company, an engaging and likeable pair.

Watching professional culinary training quail in the face of the fridge of doom and rage at dishes piled in the sink helps anyone over their fear of kitchen incompetence. The chat rolls along and thousands of people feel like they have been invited for dinner. QQ, as a Reddit comment had it ‘does not gaf and is hilarious’. That’s the kind of company we all need right now, surely?