Anthony Bourdain in Detroit for Parts Unknown Season 2 Finale

Detroit Skyline

National Coverage of Detroit Brings Debate as to How Detroit is Shown on Air:

Anthony Bourdain toured Detroit in July to film his show Parts Unknown, which airs sunday nights on CNN. The show aired last Sunday night and immediately stirred the hornets nest for not showing Detroit in the proper “light.”

Electablog.com decided that there weren’t enough African Americans represented in the episode, citing that nearly 83% of Detroit residence are African American.

Others on Reddit, Twitter, facebook were upset Anthony only showed two sides of the city. The burnt out buildings, and the up and coming hipster big mustached neighborhoods.

Interesting.

Let’s take a step back and really examine the show and those complaints.

 

There’s not enough African Americans in this episode:

Parts Unknown compiled a diverse group of people to appear in the episode. It had several cultures represented throughout the episode. With finite time in one episode, how much more could you ask for? I believe Anthony and the production company tended to share varying viewpoints from different ethnic groups throughout the 42 minute runtime. I get that it is just my opinion.  Anthony spoke to Whites, El Salvadorians, African Americans. All of which shared their agony of, and hopes for Detroit.

The Hipsters vs Burnt out Neighborhoods:

Yes, I agree that there are some great things in Detroit Anthony Bourdain and his crew missed. One I tremendously enjoyed visiting when I can get to Detroit is the Eastern Market. When I was home during this past summer I had such a wonderful experience there. It was vibrant, alive, and a great time to see everything that was happening there and the immediate area. If you are unfamiliar, go. You can skip the crazy street art neighborhood. Go do something useful.

Here’s the rub, again it comes down to the time constraints of television. That excuse might not be good enough for you, but when you’re producing TV you have to make choices that can tell the best story.

So, what has come of all of this? Well, instead of taking this national coverage you are receiving from Parts Unknown and really trying to get solutions for Detroit’s (and possibly the rest of Michigan) problems, we bicker over the little things. I say this with caution because I am not a Detroit resident, and I moved away from Michigan sometime ago, but it’s easier to pick at these little things instead of trying to raise awareness on the bigger issues: Who has the best solutions for Detroit? What programs are working? And, how do we bring attention and funding to those programs.

Lastly, I want to remind you that Anthony is a Chef, an author, and a TV host. His main job as a TV host/producer is to tell the stories that he finds interesting, in hopes that others will find them interesting as well. Arguably a job he does better than most, in all of his shows.  Remember Anthony came to town in 2009 for No Reservations:Buffalo/Baltimore/Detroit (The Rustbelt episode), he wasn’t any kinder then, and Detroit hasn’t gotten any better (yet).

I do not have the solutions, nor will I ever pretend to. My big joke is, why doesn’t Google just come in and buy the whole damn thing? It’s way cheaper than trying to be out in San Francisco. I just see this national coverage as a way to gain insight into how to fix Detroit, and not worry about the small stuff in the TV show.

 

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Chef | Culinary Producer & Educator

Host of The Food Craftsmen.
Brother to two awesome people & son to amazing parents (love you guys). I live in St. Clair Shores, MI with my wonderful fiancé and our three Weiner dogs.