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17

I’m no Honey Boo Boo

Monday, 4 February 2013 | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Last week I returned from the Realscreen conference in Washington DC, where producers and broadcasters from around the world meet to discuss the world of unscripted TV. That means things like reality shows, lifestyle programs, documentaries, and game shows. Basically anything that isn’t a scripted drama or comedy, featuring actors.

One thing that I hear at these conferences, again and again, is that broadcasters are looking for BIG characters. Think Honey Boo-Boo, the real Housewives of everywhere, and Jersey Shore.  Being loud, obnoxious, and larger-than-life makes for entertaining TV that hooks viewers and makes all the players – broadcasters, talent, producers, advertisers – lots of money.

If you’ve watched one of our shows or met me in person, you know I am not one of those characters. In fact, I’m amazed they let me on TV at all. In real life, I’m usually the quiet one in the corner. I prefer listening to speaking, and the only rooms I own are the ones in my house.  

As a child, I was painfully shy.  I literally hid behind my mother’s skirts until I was sent off to pre-school.  I did stage performances in our living room, but only for an elite audience of 4. When I told my parents I wanted to go into broadcasting, they scratched their heads in disbelief.

When I started working in news, live shots made me nauseous, and for the first six months of anchoring the 11:30 news, I had to run to the loo minutes before airtime due to a nervous stomach.  These days, we shoot with a relatively small crew.  It’s intimate and it isn’t live.  It really does feel like it’s just me and my pal, muddling away in the kitchen.

Anna is more outgoing and outspoken than I am, but our A&K shows are a far cry from the screaming matches and cat fighting you often see in the reality genre.  Some people think we’re funny, a mantle I happily wear.  But most often we hear that our shows resonate because many viewers can relate to us.  They’re not glued to a slow-mo car crash, they’re watching two friends, navigating their way through recipes, their relationship, and ultimately, through life. 

I’m sure some TV execs would argue that we would be more successful if we threw a tantrum or two.  But I maintain there is a place for authentic, quieter people on TV.  The Hills’ Lauren Conrad and American Idol’s Carrie Underwood are both known for being fairly shy and quiet.  Introverted types are also no strangers to the scripted genre.  Think of Julianne Margulies’ strong yet understated performance on “The Good Wife” or Kristen Stewart’s brooding shyness in every interview she’s ever given.  My heroes!

In her book “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking“, author Susan Cain argues that introverts can and have made valuable contributions to society.  Thank you, Susan.  I think they can also make valuable contributions to the world of unscripted entertainment.  Louder isn’t always better. Sometimes, it just ends up giving you a headache.

kristina-foodtruck

Getting ready to shoot the Food Truck episode, season 4

kristina-ready-to-roll-moroccow

Ready to roll in Morocco for The New Moroccan episode

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Our small crew in Morocco

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Playing with my new friend in Mexico (January 2013)

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On “set” in Newfoundland for Treasury of Newfoundland Dishes

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Sparky, our audio guy, and Anna in England for Best British Dishes.
Sparky’s been with us since the beginning!

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  • advantagedesign@xplornet.ca

    “I’m no Honey Boo Boo”. Thank goodness! I hate those “big characters”. And I also hate the “unscripted” reality shows where you can tell they are faking the big fights and meltdowns. They get one try with me and then never again. Your show is refreshing and true reality. I’ve enjoyed your dynamic duo since the early days of The Shopping Bags. Keep up the great “real” work. Can’t wait to see the new episodes of The Grocery Bags.

  • http://twitter.com/TheBenStacey Ben Stacey

    I am honestly tired of these shows with “big characters”. There are so many shows that could have interesting content but it is overshadowed by the characters and the created conflict between them. Shows like yours are much nicer.
    I’m actually developing a paranormal investigation show. I am preparing for the battles we may have when we pitch it. A network saying have “big characters” and me wanting good content, spending time with that content and having some chaacter as well.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ann.robertson.737 Ann Robertson

    Don’t change a bit! I love that you are just the way you are! I feel when I am watching, that you both are just right there, cooking in my kitchen! I love it when you both react honestly to your goofs and not over the top! Keep up the great work!!

  • bluegrass69

    Great message Kristina. I too have always been introverted. I don’t speak in a loud voice, in fact, I don’t speak at all until there’s an opening for me, which sometimes leaves me unheard. But we introverts are the ones who are calm and supportive behind the scenes, so that the extroverts can do their thing successfully. They’d be lost without us !! Love your show and I hope it gets picked up every year.

  • http://catherineburden.wordpress.com/ AlwaysARedhead

    You and Anna have one of the most enjoyable cooking shows on the air. The two of you look so comfortable together, realistic yes, but in a good way. Neither of you are overbearing and I am sure would be more than welcome in any of your viewers homes. You make us feel comfortable, laugh, and know that a beer or glass of wine would be offered if we dropped by.

  • tiger_lily_2

    One of the reasons I love the Grocery Bags – and the primary reason I got into cooking – was because you guys make it so real. When you forget ingredients or steps you guys swear (or at least Anna does) and fix it or start over. And you get a largely successful meal on the table every time. Just watching you guys took SO MUCH pressure off. I was always afraid to try cooking in case I messed it up, but you guys showed me the worst case scenario (I.e. burning skewers; not chopping something finely enough) and honestly, it’s never that bad. Professional chefs make it look easy, but I don’t want a depiction of “easy”; I want “real” so that I don’t feel disheartened at the first mistake. You both literally inspired me to try, and I discovered something that I love doing.

    TL;DR. You guys are refreshingly real and normal, please don’t worry about whether “bigger” characters are better.

  • Sue

    Ditto on what everyone has said so far about not liking the ‘big’ characters on reality tv. I’d much rather see real and learn something useful. And like you said – we can relate to you two. Who hasn’t sworn in the kitchen or messed up some step in a recipe?! Your show (and the Canadian home reno shows) are the only reality shows I watch regularly. Though I don’t really consider the Grocery Bag show a ‘reality’ show as yours is so refreshingly different than the other reality shows, which seem fake and staged they’re so over the top. After watching a few episodes of a certain Housewife show I was so dismayed and put off by how the women treated each other. Never watched it again. Most reality tv is about people behaving badly or being mean to each other – a huge turnoff!

  • http://www.facebook.com/jonathon.nash Jonathon Nash

    Well written. For me personally, its the chemistry between you and Anna that make your show so enjoyable. She seems like the take charge perfectionist and you the mischiveous “cut some corners” counterpart. The repartie between you two is wildly entertaining and seems so organic and real. I imagine you are truly friends off set. That being said, perhaps the two of you could tackle the infamous “Sketti” recipe from Honey Boo-Boo. Have her as your celebritiy judge. Haha.

  • http://twitter.com/CatherinesHomes Catherine Bent

    I don’t like boo boo or real housewives – they are loud and obnoxious. Love your shows!

  • http://www.facebook.com/toryfrail Victoria Frail

    Great little discussion!! I agree that your normal and natural personalities are part of what makes your advice and reviews so creditable, unlike those commercials disguised as endorsements.
    I also wanted to say I love the new website and it was so great to meet you in Toronto on your way to Washington. Thanks for being so friendly… sorry I was such an airhead!
    I think a tantrum could be funny, but it has to be real!! I mean, if you get truly spitting-nails mad at a product because it isn’t working right, thats good for me to know, because that means my hubby would probably break it!!
    One thing your shows could use is a man like my husband. He literally destroys all my kitchen tools into little pieces – if its breakable, he can break it!! You should see what he just did to my french fry cutter!!

  • http://www.annaandkristina.com/ Kristina

    Thank you all for your comments and support!

  • http://twitter.com/ChefMikedotca Chef Mike Benninger

    Please don’t become BIG, we have enough yelling and BS reality already. I watch the show because you don’t yell and scream, much like Jamie Oliver’s first Naked Chef series

  • Don

    Another vote against loud drama. Thanks for holding the line, and be well.

  • Gail Laursen

    LOVE you gals! And, you’re right Kristina, it is BECAUSE your show(s) don’t involve all the (false) commotion that the emergence of “reality” TV has produced. It’s so refreshing to see two women who never feel the need to “dumb it down.” BRAVO!!

  • Jen

    Being introverted in film and TV is so hard. Hard to be heard when you have good ideas, hard to be around the chaos. It’s definitely a struggle. I always like hearing about other introverts in entertainment, makes me feel less alone.

  • karolion

    Hooray for introverts! We have so few to speak for us even though we are just as interesting and funny as the Boo Boos when we’re comfortable in our environment. Thanks Kristina, and to both you and Anna for giving us reality without the ridiculous!

  • Lisa D. Breland

    I thank you for not being a Honey Boo or Housewife which I just simply cannot endure on television here. The fact that you two have your own way of being crazy without being over the top, rude and out right disgusting is why I fell in love with your show. I am upset we can no longer view you here in the states and I constantly petition for your return.
    I thank you both for your refreshing, intelligent, educational and funny show.

  • Katy

    I know I’m a little late to the discussion, but I just want to say that I absolutely love the fact that you and Anna remain true to yourselves and don’t try and alter your personalities to get more viewers. Both your personalities are what attracted my boyfriend and I to the show! You guys seem real and honest which I love. Never change! 🙂

    • http://www.annaandkristina.com/ Kristina

      Thanks Katy!