Is Top Chef's Phillip just on the show for drama?
Regardless of the fact that he's won every cooking competition available, Top Chef fans are totally over Phillip Frankland Lee's attitude.
At this point in the Top Chef season, the sins of cheftestant Phillip are numerous. He's a braggart. He has a man bun. He thinks he's never wrong. He plated on a rock. He smoked vegetables with grass picked from a public park (as in, where dogs go to pee). He made gummy potatoes and then he insisted they were supposed to be that way.
So how is he still on the show? Why hasn't he been eliminated and then firmly but gently escorted to Last Chance Kitchen? If you're confused as to how he hasn't been told to pack his knives, you're not alone. On Twitter, fans, still scarred by Potato-Gate, are also surprised and disappointed that Phillip has managed to last this long.
Let us now take a dip into the cold, shallow waters of reality TV logic, shall we? This crop of cheftestants has been referred to as being one of the most talented and accomplished groups of chefs Top Chef has ever assembled. People have won a lot of awards and run restaurants that serve delicious food, and Phillip is among them. The judges have consistently liked his food, with some noted exceptions. He has the wacky confidence that drives him to do things like plate on a rock and serve said food item to the judges, which means he's a risk-taker. (Or something.) And he's 100 percent full of himself, which makes him ideal for inclusion in a reality show.
We're about halfway through the season and most of the weaker chefs have been eliminated — Angelina was sent packing on Thursday's episode and so was Wesley, after his consistent messiness caught up with him. Grayson and her delightful attitude are gone, because not only was she ridiculous, but her food was substandard. In other words, Phillip has both the ability to create drama and the fact that he's an interesting chef most of the time to keep him around. The judges are filing the group of chefs down and, in a smaller group, the potential for explosive drama is greater and will have a bigger impact. When there were 13 chefs, it was hard to keep track of anyone, and so an annoying person was more likely to just seem bratty and scrambling for attention, but when there are five chefs left, that annoying person can create some crazy trouble. If Phillip does make it to the bitter end, the show won't lose viewers, because people will be interested in who wins. Or they'll just watch to see him screw up.
If anything, eliminating Phillip would combat this creeping feeling that Top Chef is getting a little... predictable. The fact that we can point to the charming cocktail of drama/reasonably good chef as being why Phillip is still on the show indicates that Top Chef is predictable in the same way that reality TV is predictable, even if it's not a show that involves drunk texting. (Yet.)