Anthony Bourdain announced on Twitter this morning that he was joining CNN, but he didn't say anything about the fate of his two current shows on the Travel Channel, No Reservations and The Layover. I was hoping Bourdain might be a cable bigamist, but the Hollywood Reporter is saying that won't be the case. Bourdain's ditching the Travel Channel for good in favor of a network that has shown an almost superhuman ability to vacuum out any last trace of personality from its on-air talent.
I am one of those people who watches far more Anthony Bourdain shows that I ought to. I've seen pretty much every episode of No Reservations and The Layover, enduring every failed boat trip and every bad movie homage. I've tried to keep a mental index of places he has yet to visit (SURINAM!), and I have spent more than a few hours imagining myself as one of Bourdain's foreign hosts, explaining the whole vibe of my hometown, making sweeping generalizations about my countrymen ("We Portuguese are fatalist by nature, Tony!"), and getting hammered as balls while in Bourdain's company. Within the confines of the Travel Channel, Bourdain has created two TV shows that I very much enjoy and would like to continue enjoying. (I'd also like to figure out how to pronounce the word "orange" like he does. Awww-runch.)
Now he's going to CNN. The good news is that Bourdain is bringing with him the same production company (Zero Point Zero) that produced both No Reservations and The Layover, so you can count on the same brilliant photography and editing that make his shows superior to standard cable food shows. And CNN will presumably give Bourdain a bigger budget and greater access to more dangerous places. All of that is good. The hope is that this will be just like his old shows, only with a new name and logo and theme song.
The problem is that this is CNN, and CNN is firmly committed to boring Americans to fucking DEATH. God only knows if they'll allow Bourdain to drink absinthe on camera, or shoot a pig in backwater Louisiana, or any of the other naughty things that make him a compelling TV personality. And while I salute Bourdain's attempts to infuse real journalism into No Reservations—like the entire Mozambique episode, which was really good—most of the time I just want to watch the fucker eat. If this CNN deal results in less eating and more time hanging out with Sean Penn in Haiti, I dunno if that's a welcome development. Sean Penn is a penis.
I'm also alarmed that Bourdain will appear on other CNN programs. Have you SEEN other CNN programs? They're fucking horrible. Nothing good can come from Bourdain appearing on Piers Morgan Tonight for 20 minutes a week.
The sucking power of CNN is such that it's far more likely that CNN will ruin Bourdain than Bourdain will save the network from stagnation. I hope that isn't the case. I hope he's still allowed to be the same profane, sleazy, and sometimes annoying person that he's always been, because that is what makes his television so goddamn worth watching. If this ends with him in suspenders lobbing softball questions at Gloria fucking Allred, I'll fly to Atlanta and choke someone with a marrow bone.