A few weeks removed from the “Food Revolution,” I thought it would be nice to take stock of the series' influence and discuss whether or not it'd be worth it to bring it back for another pod of episodes.
It seems everyone who is up on the issues knows that the battle over school food was happening way before “Food Revolution” aired this spring on ABC, making the overall effect of the series certainly less influential than Jamie Oliver himself might claim.
In The Spotlight
However, as I've noted on a few occasions, any televised spotlight that the fight can get should be welcome.
But the problem is what happens after the series goes away.
Those people who were aware of the issues beforehand will still be aware, but the crucial – and sad – point is that many who didn't really get invested until the program started are likely to forget about it by mid-summer.
Heck, there could be a good amount of them who have already let it go - and it's only been a few weeks.
We saw that happen in Huntington, the place where all the intense work was being done, at the end of the first season.
With the television cameras and producers gone, there is less pressure to do the “right thing,” especially for people who had trouble doing so in the first place.
What can we say about the people who were watching at home?
I wish I would have remembered to track the number of people who were signing Jamie's petition on the web site from back when the series was airing new episodes, because then I could officially say that the number of people signing up now has slowed down, but I can't.
However, we all know how quickly our culture loses interest in things, especially when it comes to “big” issues. Even as someone at least partially aware of these problems beforehand thanks to my experience at Earth Eats, my interest in the series waned enough in recent weeks that this post is just now coming to your eyes.
A Second Season?
So that's why I think the series needs to come back.
The first pod of episodes was just the first taste, the introduction to all of these issues. It's cynical to assume that our society needs a yearly batch of episodes to remind us of the problems around us, but it wouldn't hurt to hedge and make sure theses issues – school lunch reform, the obesity epidemic, etc. – stay fresh in people's minds.
From ABC's perspective, the ratings were initially very good for Friday nights and ended on an okay note, but viewership does tend to drop once it gets warmer outside, especially on Friday.
Moreover, the series is surely cheap to produce, maybe not the cheapest type of reality series, but still less than a scripted series. And finally, it's a good-feeling brand to have in your pocket – not every network can say they're helping stop childhood obesity in America.
If “Food Revolution” doesn't come back, those people fighting the good fight will surely continue to do so, just as they did before the series began airing March.
But to keep everyone else engaged some sort of content needs to continue, whether if it's the program proper or some additional online content/updates.
Because, despite the fact that it was still a traditional (read: manipulative) reality program, “Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution” brought issues to the forefront of public consciousness that everyone should know and care about.