Thursday, January 8, 2009

Top Chef: 3 Steps To Predicting The Loser


I started to reliably predict who was going to be eliminated around season two of Top Chef. This isn't because I am a super genius, it's on top of me being a super genius.

If you think about competition-based, reality television, each episode is a story with a winner and a loser. The winner and loser of an hour long television show are likely to get more airtime. When there is someone going home, it is in their best interest to make you as invested in that person as possible. This breaks down to three simple rules:
  1. The loser is the star of the episode.
  2. The star needs facetime early and often.
  3. The star of the show needs to have in-episode strife.
Today's episode (Season 5, Episode 7) is a great example. While livetweeting (f'ing shoot me now, I livetweeted something), I called Gene and Melissa being eliminated at nine minutes into the episode. This episode was extra easy as it was a double elimination. Here is a fourth rule:
  1. Double eliminations will often group the two losers together via editing
So, let's watch some Top Chef. Below this graf is a quick cheatsheet I put together watching a second time using my DVR. I had to clarify that because I don't want you thinking that I actually annotate Top Chef as I watch it.

02:32Gene comments on being pissed off and stands behind his dish, immediate cut to
02:40Melissa not realizing how much pressure there is on her, immediate cut and...
02:54Music goes from melancholy to upbeat
04:27Padma says there is a catch, cut to melissa's eye bulge, which cuts to gene looking uncomfortable, which cuts to sugar.
04:38Gene things he is F-'d
08:00Gene and Melissa edited back to back in elimination challenge.
08:39Melissa's one on one interview, complete with raspy voice and red eyes.
10:42Padma: "... least favorites" cut to melissa, cut to gene. Then they cut to the actual bottom three in the elimination: carla, ariane and jamie.
12:45Gene talking about how he needs to win and that he misses his family.

And the hits keep on coming... at minute 36 we see Gene and Melissa editing neighbors yet again.

I am about 80% accurate in the first 10 minutes. Funny thing is, usually I go off the rails as I get into the episode.

Don't believe me? Try it next week. Look for someone who is:
  • Disproportionate amounts of attention, especially early in the episode
  • Is especially emotional or going through a personal crisis
Report back here next week with who you think it is.

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