Hell’s Kitchen is an American reality show which pits two teams of chefs against each other in order to become head chef at a restaurant. The show is broadcasted on Fox and is in its 18th season since its start in 2005. The show is hosted by chef Gordon Ramsay, who is infamous for his unforgiving criticism of the chefs as they perform tasks to avoid elimination from the competition, giving the show it’s remarkable name.
Hell’s Kitchen sits at #13 on imdb’s list of top reality TV shows for 2019. While ratings have slowly begun to decline, the show has had a successful run in the 18 seasons it’s been on the air. It could be argued that the reason for this is partly due to the show’s distinct theme on a popular show format, and the televisuality that follows such theme. The intro to the show is the strongest example of the show’s distinct visuality which plays on the theme of the harshness and cruelty of Ramsay’s criticism. The 30 second clip is filled with striking graphics of a hellish kitchen and restaurant with shattering reflections, the set and contestants’ photos in flames, and even fire appearing in Ramsay’s eyes.
Taking a look at the visuals used in Hell’s Kitchen’s intro reveals that some television series today are continuing to use the tactic of flaunting and displaying a unique and flashy style in order to maintain viewership. In Caldwell’s article on televisuality, he wrote that programs will strive for “identifiable style-markers and distinct looks in order to gain audience share within the competitive broadcast flow”. The hellish twist on a common cooking show theme provided viewers with a program that brought unique aesthetic and conceptual components not seen together before on television. The intro provides an eye-catching and brief, yet exciting, look at the characteristics of the show to come, leaving the viewer intrigued and waiting for more.