Is anyone watching Spain...On the Road Again, the PBS documentary with chef Mario Batali, Gwyneth "Spain Is, Like, My Passion" Paltrow, New York Times food writer Mark Bittman and actress Claudia Bassols road-tripping through Spain? I am trying. The food looks divine, and the Spanish backdrop is stunning. But so much about the unscripted junket makes me cringe that I haven't made it through a whole episode.
It could be that half of the dialog is in Spanish, which I don't speak, so I feel like I'm back in high school watching the cool kids have a conversation that I'm not invited to join. And then there are interminable Real World-style exchanges like the one in which a positively radiant Gwyneth—with golden locks unfurling from the passenger seat of the convertible Mercedes—kvetches to Mario about how she doesn't have any spa time now that she's a mom. Gag me. No, better—gag her.
Maybe Bittman reminds me too much of the Scene's own bald curmudgeon, Jeff Woods. Either way, I'd rather watch Woods tour the taco stands of South Nashville than endure the Times' columnist ogling Bassols all the way from Galicia to Gehry's Guggenheim.
In Mario's defense, he has been pretty non-grating. In the footage I've seen, he's been mostly behind the wheel while the camera focuses on everyone else. It sort of makes me wonder if somewhere along the way the Crocs-shod chef realized that this well-intentioned culinary documentary would inevitably devolve into a prolonged self-indulgent glamour shot, so he offered to drive.
Is it just me, or is this show making anyone else green—with either envy or nausea?