I think the reason I enjoy it so much is pretty straightforward. Its not because I think Gordon Ramsey is cool (though I think he is), its not because I find watching a group of poorly matched people flap around in a series of increasingly ridiculous petty arguments funny (though I do) and its not because I find it amusing that these experienced chefs cant seem to bend their heads around a risotto (lol). No, I think the real reason I am so bizarrely in love with this kind of show is plain and simple: I like food.
Moreover, I like cooking food. These cooking competition shows, moreso than ordinary "this is how you cook dish A, B, and C" shows make the culinary arts seem absolutely achievable. I mean, if these clueless assholes can manage to put together beautiful, elegant, tasty dishes worthy of Gordon Ramsey (in between not being able to cook scallops and fucking up steaks), maybe there is hope for me.
I love the little mini-competitions where the contestants must figure out how to put together an appealing dish with a set of totally random ingredients. Its sorta inspiring, for anyone who has ever had to deal with a fridgeful of mismatched foods.
Good books, good movies, good television, makes you feel something. Shows like Hell's Kitchen successfully make you feel hungry, excited about cooking, and innately superior to the cast of dipshits they inevitably get to compete on these shows. And it is good.
I think I might have just hit on the appeal of reality television in general. Making us feel better about ourselves through the folly of others. Human beings are terrible . . .