Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations: Mozambique Is a Downer

bourdain mozambique.jpg
Travel Channel
Tony Bourdain feasts on goat (but no rat) at a village celebration.
If you recall, I groused through Tony's fluffier show, The Layover (which, by the way, was picked up for one more season), opting to reserve my critical eye for the more serious, eyeglass-wearing cousin, No Reservations. The season eight opener, which featured the African country of Mozambique, went beyond serious -- straight to depressing.

Some people may say it's pretty darn impossible to not make a depressing show in Mozambique. After all, this country's history includes centuries of slavery, followed by decades of colonialism under the thumb of Portugal. There was a period of communism, followed by a civil war, before the young country could begin to heal. But what we learn by travel is that there is beauty in every culture, despite (or maybe because of) the incredible hardships its people might have endured.

Not that there weren't moments of hope and enlightenment in the one-hour season opener that aired last evening. There was the requisite goat slaughter for a child's birthday celebration (which was tempered by a shot of their daily dinner menu -- rats on a skewer), as well an interesting moment when an older white couple mused about how they used to take family vacations in Mozambique before the country was ravaged by decades of war.

For every time Tony eats a beachside meal of peri peri chicken or marvels at a giant prawn the size of a toddler, we also get a scene in which locals, clearly still scarred, relive the moments when local military or rebel forces came to massacre their townsfolk. The former Grand Hotel in the capital city of Maputo is now a skeleton filled with almost 3,000 homeless people seeking shelter in its ruins, without electricity, sanitary facilities, or water. This scene is too much for even our intrepid explorer. Tony rips the mike pack off his body, calling it a day.

True, showing the grittier side of travel to other countries is what makes No Reservations compelling television. But the beauty of Bourdain's narrative is that he can find the irony in a situation. He knows the difference between mocking and holding a mirror on a subject.

In fact, Bourdain's wit and snarkiness came out in a scene that was left on the cutting-room floor (which can be found on the No Reservations site).

My Voice Nation Help
54 comments
Matt Lomba
Matt Lomba

Having spent time in Mozambique I can tell you that not only was this a well done representation, but a beautiful portrait of the dichotomy Mozambique really is.  It really does have the best food in Africa, it really is very sad and poor and it really does have gracious and welcoming people.  Of all the Bourdain episodes, only the Naples Italy episode comes close.  This edition was brilliant in every way.   

beirachick
beirachick

The Grande Hotel is in Beira not Maputo and the people living there are generally renting rooms from people who have been given new houses and compensation to move out a number of years ago by the state, facts checking is important - there are 2 very good documentaries on the subject for anyone who really wants to understand what's going on....as to people still being scarred by militias entering their villages and slaughtering people....frankly not the case. Perhaps a few people should come here and have a look around and not believe this type of voyeuristic rubbish purporting to be informed comment or journalism

Yak
Yak

I think the author was spot on. Travel Channel is supposed to be lighthearted entertainment. What we got was compelling programming with the likes of NOVA and Frontline. Lighten up Mr. Bourdain and make the show true to the network and yourself.

5th and lehigh
5th and lehigh

AB should have done a pool side stand up routine...complete with starvation and bloody flux humor

Zombemail
Zombemail

Your a complete fucking idiot. Someone get this guy an etch a sketch and a set of keys to play with

Kat
Kat

Please, be more ignorant. Sorry that Mozambique's history isn't light-hearted and glamorous enough for you, Miami.

Jorge Arellano
Jorge Arellano

Want paradise and happiness go to Disneyland. Tony´s show is successful because it show the things like they are, and thats why he is in his 8th season. Do you have a show with 8 seasons with your mentality? I don't think so.

MissJana29
MissJana29

Thank you for putting into words what is clearly so very wrong with this generation. Open your eyes, open your mind, not everything is rainbows and kittens. Well done Mr Bourdain. 

Rick Shaw
Rick Shaw

Moral of story: Dont insult or be critical of Tony! hahaha

Adam Dudley
Adam Dudley

Several times in the Mozambique season opener of Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations, the question about how can these people -- many of them with no running water or electricity -- appear to be so happy.

I think the reason is that the people in the more rural areas of Mozambique have no access to modern media.

Unlike the American poor, they are not continuously bombarded with messages and images telling them that the world is ending...and...that they don't have enough, aren't good enough, rich enough, or smart enough.

Briefcandle
Briefcandle

You get paid for these reviews? I should very much like to replace you.

MiamiCentric
MiamiCentric

Why so much Anthony Bourdain coverage for a local blog/newspaper?   If I wanted to hear about EVERY episode, I'd watch the show.

powerballs
powerballs

The reviewer is correct.  The episode is entirely useless, except to make people think they learned something, which they didn't.

Tony
Tony

Are you not entertained?

Nene2737
Nene2737

I even skipped #DWTS just to watches this episode. This blogger needs a life. By far one of the best episode! I'll bitch slap u!

Bornaduck
Bornaduck

Just read through the Comments...much better than the Review.So L.Doss, did someone else write this review or have you really followed No Reservations/Tony before last night. You don't get it.

Rafa
Rafa

I think those poor people in Mozambique should apologize for being such a downer to Laine Doss. How dare they to ruin her day like this?

Joshua Willis
Joshua Willis

What a horribly vapid, insensitive, and just plain horrible review.  Your puerile "Like OMG, starving children are such downers, he should have gone to like, Cancun or something" tone is disgusting.

selick
selick

This writer is an idiot!! 

icefloe01
icefloe01

Wow, this Laine Doss guy is a total screwbag.

Buddhistfist21
Buddhistfist21

Woah, Should we live in a bubble?  Should we not be conscious of issues in other parts on the world?  No Reservations looks at the country and culture as a whole.  Thank god it takes an adult approach to the world unlike this article.  Please stop writing. and go experience the real world.   

Jennifer
Jennifer

Are you serious? Africa is a "downer"??? Go put your head in the sand and watch something that will make you feel good...Samantha Brown and Rick Steves sound more your pace. Most ignorant thing I have ever read!

Iamme
Iamme

Wow Mr/Ms Doss, you're a bit of twat.  Glad to see you're comfortable acting as though every inch of the earth is a garden spot full of fun times and not a trace of the nastier aspects of the human condition to be seen.  ~golf clap~.

JJ
JJ

not a bummer at all.  brilliant photography. great story.  people were wonerfull.  ur outlook is a bummer, not the show

ZGareBear
ZGareBear

I didn't know that this show was on Comedy Central. You would think that there would be a show out there that could advise is about traveling to other countries and their living conditions.

Akellerbuk
Akellerbuk

"Could someone clean up this mess?  And get these poor Africans out of here, we don't want to depress people!!"  This is one of the dumbest things I've read in awhile.

LarryL
LarryL

That was commentary beyond pathetic.  Sorry it wasn't enough fun for you.

Cwaredafg
Cwaredafg

Next time just avoid everything that makes a country unique and make fun of your crew is what this guy is saying.

Julia
Julia

If you want funny, go watch Andrew Zimmern kiss old men and eat "gross" things. Seriously, what's with you?

Johnverduin
Johnverduin

Not everywhere is an orgasm. I commend him for this honest episode. 

claire
claire

this is one of the dumbest things i have ever read.

Justin Sevakis
Justin Sevakis

Tony himself just tweeted this review, calling it the "most offensively insipid review of an episode of NoReservations to date!" I tend to agree. It's a travel show, and not every place is cheery. Or must Tony avoid the issues and get a painful massage from a dude in a thong in every episode?

Aerinwriter
Aerinwriter

Slavery and mass murder and mutilation Such "downers". Can't he find a way to make that funny?

Shibull
Shibull

As a matter of a fact, Laine Doss thinks it would be a great and fascinating idea for Anthony Bourdain to visit Disney World, The Atlantis resort in the Bahamas, and Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas cruise! So, " Mozambique Is a Downer" is not that surprising. 

Laine Doss
Laine Doss

 I do believe Tony Bourdain is successful because of his brand of wit.  Travel Channel's No Reservations is described as such (directly fro Travel Channel): Anthony Bourdain uncovers the best in culinary cuisine across the world.

The show, on Travel Channel, is not on PBS or History Channel or CBS for a reason. It is entertainment driven.  Like his books. I do believe that Mr. Bourdain (like some of his followers) have lost their humor along life's highways and byways. 

Laine Doss
Laine Doss

 The insane thing is that I never insulted him.  I'm not sure anyone is actually reading the post.  I was calling out the edits.  But, maybe Tony edits his work, too.

Laine Doss
Laine Doss

 Did you read the review? Just checking, because I don't recall saying your quote....

rpetersen29
rpetersen29

It's like 10,000 homeless when all you need is a joke.... isn't it ironic

Laine Doss
Laine Doss

 Frankly -- yes.  Not make it funny, but in the past, Tony's been to Vietnam, China, Mexican border towns, NOLA post-Katrina, India, Beirut, Haiti, Berlin, Kurdistan, India, -- to name a few.  There was always humor in these episodes....

jh
jh

 When did entertainment solely become humor and wit? I found this show incredibly entertaining. I was engrossed in finding out more about this small nation that I really did not know a thing about prior to last night. I found the locals he spoke with to be very engaging and caring, and the food did look amazing. That's entertaining.

Also, your reference, "Anthony Bourdain uncovers the best in culinary cuisine across the world," has nothing to do with being humorous or witty. This episode fits that description just fine.

Zombemail
Zombemail

Your a complete fucking idiot. Someone get this guy an etch a sketch or a set of keys to play with

Mymrmax
Mymrmax

Your financial compensation is appropriate to your level of talent.

jh
jh

Being famous for ripping one of No Reservations better episodes isn't exactly something to be thankful for. You're a moron if you didn't think that this show was exactly what No Reservations should be. It is a show that gives Americans a view of the world outside of our little bubble. This episode also was not a downer, it was real. Sure, there are depressing moments, but it also showed a lot of incredibly proud and happy people that were trying to move on and better their lives, anyway they can. I will gladly visit their country if I ever have the chance.

Mymrmax
Mymrmax

Did *you read your review? Just checking because Joshua summarizrd your article and overall tone pretty acurately.

MrGreenJeans
MrGreenJeans

This is true, seen photos of him at legalization rallies.   And for the record, his show is great too.

Mike Rapp
Mike Rapp

There was plenty of humor in this episode.

But even Tony has a line. "Finding the humor" in 3,000 people living in a desolate, formerly exquisite hotel would be below even Tony. There is absolutely nothing funny about a middle aged women who looks 60 washing her family's clothes in a sewer. And yet, Tony chose to show it — for our edification and education — and yes even provide the best commentary available: Ripping off his mic and walking away.

Before I watched this show I didn't know anything about Mozambique. By the end, my entire family was sitting around the TV, taking it in, boggling over the giant crayfish, and yes also over the breathtaking poverty. While watching it, my 11 year old son asked me questions about politics, slavery, poverty and this country's people that he's never not once asked.

And my wife and I gave answers that even he pondered without a smart ass answer.

And yes, he kept watching. Surprise.

To the writer, if you want just a mash of crude jokes and profanity, just watch Reel TV and Jackass. Perfectly fine for those hours when you just want to laugh at other people's misfortune.

I give, and continue to give, Bourdain credit for doing what only he is able and willing to do: Provide at least a somewhat honest look at other countries and peoples, and offer a commentary that tries to provide an honest and yes entertaining context to life in their respective worlds.

If you don't like reality, may I suggest you watch another show. Again, nothing wrong with that. But there's a good reason No Reservations is still on the air and still gaining viewers. No one does documentary television better than Bourdain.

Mymrmax
Mymrmax

Well stated, sir. Couldn' agree more. Its really too bad that Anthony inconvenienced the author of this piece with reality.

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

Loading...