In the 2000s, I often turned to reruns of Golden girls to keep me company in my studio, and on the Travel Channel to transport me elsewhere. As I watched Samantha Brown explore Large hotels, learning from Anthony Bourdain’s curiosity about No reservations, or just watching a glorified infomercial about holiday decorating at Walt Disney World, I felt like I was traveling from my couch.
Today I would only log into Travel Channel if I wanted shit to scare me. It’s not because I’m scared of ghosts, but because I’m terrified that the network has been completely taken over by non-stop paranormal television. Travel Channel has completely stopped exploring the world and now claims to see things that are not there.
There are certainly plenty of other great travel reality TV shows, and some ghastly too, but what I think I really missed was the light and airy travel reality TV of Large hotels or Xtreme Water Parks: just a little dip in another place for a while, it maybe gives me an idea of ââa place that I would like to visit someday. (For the record, the original Travel Channel shows are now on Discovery +, in the Travel Channel section, after scrolling through âGhost Encounters,â âInexplained Phenomena,â âMysteriesâ and âLegends & Monsters.â)
Luckily, Netflix just made two brand new shows that deliver exactly what I was missing: The most amazing vacation rentals in the world and Fresh, fried and crispy each has quick bouts of about half an hour which are perfect little escapes via TV. My reviews and previews of each show are below.
Fresh, fried and crispy is a hot canola oil bath
At Fresh, fried and crispy, Daymon Scott âDaymâ Patterson, known as Daym Drops on YouTube, where he is âthe face of fast foodâ as he describes himself, travels the United States. In every town, he tastes some of his best fried food, interacts with the chefs, and tastes what they’ve made. It is a show more in the tradition of Dinners, dives and walks than No reservations, but it is very effective.
The cinematography of cities and people is great, but it was the way the food and frying is photographed that immediately made me salivate and I wanted to splash my face with canola oil. There are the required slow-motion food shots, but the fat splatter never looked so sexy. Just wait for a beaten product to drop into a vat of oil, immediately surrounded by bubbles, or sparkle when removed from the hot fat. There’s also an occasional photo of a cross section of what looks like a glass fryer filmed in a studio. It’s a b-roll, but manages to make the float in boiling oil quite appealing.
The show is powered by Daym Drops, whose ecstatic looks as he eats communicate exactly what we need to know about the taste of food. Watching others eat – and listening to them chew in particular – is not my favorite pastime, but his enjoyment and enthusiasm for food and people are contagious whether he eats or asks questions. There isn’t much to take away other than the existence of these places, but I certainly enjoyed being introduced to them.
This is partly because there is a lot of playfulness. In the first episode, Daym Drops hands the arancini – a fried ball with risotto, rice, and cheese – to the camera, which focuses on it. “Do you see that little push I’m giving to that thing?” This interior is going to be all kind of flavor for my face and I think [clicks tongue] I am ready for this. On his second stop at St. Louis, a vegan bakery, he becomes moved by a vegan chicken sandwich. “This chicken shouldn’t be that good,” he said, pretending to leave the set. “There is no way in the world that vegan food tastes so good.” But it tastes so good, and Daymon makes sure we understand it and live it by his side, even while watching TV.
The world’s most amazing vacation rentals visit luxury, budget and unique properties
The most amazing vacation rentals in the world follows three people on their tour and spends the night in three different locations in each episode. There is no hotel or chain of restaurants in sight, but they make all of their tours and experiences accessible, comfortable and engaging.
Our three hosts are former Million Dollar Ad: New York actor Luis D. Ortiz and YouTubers / social media influencers Jo Franco and Megan Batoon. The credits showcase Megan’s expertise as “design”, Jo as “trip” and Luis as “real estate,” but in each episode each of them features a property: a luxury location of Luis, a âuniqueâ property of Jo, and a budget property of Megan.
The series is beautifully photographed, from interiors to views, offering real estate porn that is achievable, as all of these places are ostensibly commendable. (It remains to be seen whether their availability and prices stay the same after international exposure on Netflix; a warning at the end of each episode even warns viewers – well, those left to watch all the credits – that “Price, availability, and the equipment of the property may be changed at any time. â)
The first episode, “Best of Bali”, focuses on three places in Bali, but most of the other episodes are thematic, so they travel around countries or the world to visit different places. This is an unfortunate choice, as the Bali episode was by far my favorite, simply because of the way it showed different parts of the same area, and I was hoping for more. Instead, the other episodes are a bit disorienting, throwing us across the world, from Japan to Mexico to Massachusetts.
The episodes are quick, but while there isn’t much depth, The most amazing vacation rentals in the world managed to make me feel like I spent a night at each location and learned something about the property and the community. There’s a lot of information packed into its 32 or 34 minutes, from prizes to local activities. Some are delivered in the moment and some are delivered via voiceover, and there is even more information from onscreen notes, which is sometimes useful and sometimes not (“95% of American travelers want a unique dining experience “).
But The most amazing vacation rentals in the world actually transported me to these places. I especially appreciated the emphasis on travel that does not involve hotel chains, just as I enjoyed Fresh, fried and crispy highlights family restaurants and local institutions instead of trips to McDonalds. Not that there is anything wrong with hotel chains or McDonalds, but the world has so much more to offer than the familiar and the predictable. While TV shows aren’t exactly breaking new ground, I’m glad they both exist to highlight places that will likely be new to most viewers.
There is absolutely no sign of the hell the world has been through in the past 18 months in either series – I don’t really know when they were filmed, as there is no mask in sight in any of the episodes I watched – but it did allow the places to be both ambitious and close at hand. When people are fully immunized and feel comfortable hitting the road again, both shows give us something to try, or at least something compelling to watch when we need a quick escape.
Fresh, fried and crispy: B +
The world’s most amazing travel destinations: B+
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