Ornery as he may be, travel junkies can't get enough of Anthony Bourdain's cantankerous commentary. On Monday night, the wanderlust chef's new Travel Channel show The Layover premiered in a city where countless travelers find themselves stuck: Singapore.
Whereas his long-standing show No Reservations is rather broad in its scope, The Layover offers a more pared down look at a single city and the myriad of things you can do in 24-48 hours. Though the clock is constantly ticking, you'd be surprised how much Bourdain and his crew can pack in to such a short period of time.
Like the other Travel Channel show, The Layover is centered around the famously blunt chef and his signature snarkiness. He and his crew search around for great food and a great time.
The tone is even maintained with No Reservations-like snarl effects that break up each segment.
Yet unlike No Reservations where we joyously watch the antics of Bourdain, The Layover is focused on sharing ideas so that you, the traveler, can replicate Bourdain's experience. It's more traditional in that sense, though Bourdain will never be considered a traditional host.
Bourdain tells you where to go and what to skip - and the places he dislikes are typically the same top 10s the glossy travel guide would have you visit.
In the first episode of The Layover, he even flips through a colorful travel guide at a restaurant and laments that it's full of crap.
Perhaps acknowledging the shortcomings of a 24-hour experience, Bourdain intersperses tidbits of information about sights he will not visit during the taping of the show to offer a broader perspective on the city in focus.
He shows you what you could do in five days - all wrapped up into a hectic 24-hour marathon and all while offering a best-of list for both high-end and budget travelers.
Because he has just 24 hours to encapsulate one spot, the show is actually more useful than its predecessor in keying in on the essence of a destination and offering a pu-pu platter of ideas.
When Bourdain says things like my stomach extended like a gaseous piñata, it's hard not to fall in love with his point of view. His sarcastic way with words is effusive. No other travel shows boast a host who can spout off such gems.
He tells it like it is, which is something that's hard to come by in the glitzy world of travel. If he doesn't like something, he lets you know:
Skip the Singapore Sling, he says in the first episode. It's a disgusting drink. Trust me, you don't want it.
And we do. We trust Bourdain and we trust that we are getting the inside scoop.
Bourdain even breaks the fourth wall, often talking about his crew or how he can't change his sweaty shirt or it will ruin the continuity of the show. For some reason, this makes us like him even more. It makes us believe there's no smoke and mirrors.
On so many travel shows, viewers are bombarded with pretty images but little substance or critique. Never with Bourdain.
Be it No Reservations, or The Layover, Bourdain casts his sharp eye on each spot and offers such witty commentary, that we actually feel as though we're traveling with him - like we're chatting with him on the road.
The beauty of Bourdain's shows is not just the exotic locals, but the way he interacts with each destination. He gets a little too drunk, he gets angry, he curses (I'm a filthy bugger), and he's not afraid to cross boundaries. He's the rock star of his own world and we enjoy watching the facade crumble under new situations. In the end, we're struck by this authenticity.
Anthony Bourdain's The Layover airs on the Travel Channel Monday nights at 9 p.m. ET.