Hulu has premiered Whites, a BBC comedy show about life working in a chaotic kitchen. Think of Chef Gordon Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares and The Office rolled into one, with the addition of a fresh and lively British humor. Oddly enough, this show seems more real than most reality cooking shows. The sense that “I think this could actually happen in a kitchen like this” is ever-present. It is a wonderfully brilliant original comedy.
Individuals who believe that all British comedies are of the very dry variety must watch this show to have their belief demolished with jokes like “That’s no way to talk about your wife” in response to a man explaining how he injured his hand "boning a pig.” Populating this kitchen is a ditzy worker, a chef who places himself on a pedestal, and an aging sous-chef holding onto his job from a strange, self-entitled, and creepy apprentice (who is cocky and thinks himself to be the next chef). This show is a balanced mix of dry and unabashedly hilarious. And it is sure to inspire many laughs and giggles.
Hulu’s new content strategy to bring relatively unknown content from the UK to their site is a reason why Whites is now part of their programming. It is an original UK program. The show starts with the “White House,” a steak house where the kitchen’s workers are seen dealing with their daily chaos, due almost entirely to their chef. Their chef, Roland White (Alan Davies), is absent in the kitchen, and leaves all the work to his sous chef, Bib (Darren Boyd). Bib is over-worked and stressed and barely gets to see his family. So he understandably asks for help. Help comes in the form of a new apprentice who causes more trouble than good.
In Whites, the kitchen is a battleground. The chef has lofty dreams of celebrity, and of writing a book of “meat and memoirs;” his hostess struggles to push him to work; his sous-chef is more like the chef; the apprentice is up to no good; and the other workers are like a bunch of chickens with their heads cut off – confused and clueless and frantic. On top of that, the chef doesn’t even realize there is so much chaos right outside his office door and in the kitchen. It’s chaotic and silly and really just greatly funny to see such an original comedy on such an unlikely topic – the kitchen.
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As fans of Fawlty Towers, Keeping Up Appearances, and Benny Hill, as well as several other British comedies, we are fairly familiar with various forms of British comedy. This show is not like the other British comedies; in fact it is very atypical. That may be the reason why the show aired last fall in the UK with six episodes, but was not renewed for another season, even though reviews for the show were mainly positive. It has a humor that would appeal to many fans of the American version of The Office, but perhaps not the British one. This new formula of fiction plus cooking plus drama plus comedy is a win in our book.
Our only reservations (get it!?) are with the development of the show, since it will only last six episodes, which is standard for most series in the UK. How developed can it get? Will we see other sides of the characters, or will they be flat and one-sided? And will the action exit the kitchen so we can get a closer glimpse at the inner workings of the their lives? This show has a lot to offer. It has a wonderful, original concept, superb acting, and great potential. It is uncertain where this show will go in terms of plot direction; will the chaotic kitchen be the only thing we see? If the answer is yes, then the show can hardly develop into something more complex. If the answer is no, then the next episodes should be quite a bit of fun.
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