There are two things that this show has got me thinking about that are related to science.
It is possible to make something you are not interested in, interesting.
I do not drink. I am not a business owner. Bars are not my habitat. But I like watching Bar Rescue. I thought much the same about Top Gear. I’m not interested in cars, but I keep watching that show. And I keep watching Bar Rescue because there is something compelling about it.
When someone says, “But people aren’t interested in [insert academic discipline here],” they’re giving up too soon.
Can yelling be the right thing to do?
There is the old saying that conflict is the essence of drama. And there is a lot of conflict in Bar Rescue. Taffer routinely tears strips off of staff, managers, and owners alike. In one episode, he almost comes to blows with an owner.
Taffer is often mean. But that doesn’t make him wrong.
While I am always wary of reading too much into “reality shows”, it does seem as though there are times his approach works. Sometimes, Taffer gets through to people, and I wonder how much of that is how forcefully and loudly he expresses himself.
In our department, we sometimes say a student needs the “CTJ” talk. “CTJ” is short for “Come to Jesus.” It’s a talk that is meant to get a student back on track with their project. It’s rarely pleasant. By the time you get to that talk, it’s because things have already deteriorated.
Are there times when you absolutely need this unpleasantness to get through to people? I wonder, though in general, I hope not. In scientific settings, it takes a long time to build up confidence, and this sort of action could destroy someone’s sense of self worth. I know that the power dynamic is much different in an academic setting than in a reality television show. Ultimately, the bar business people work with Taffer for a few days, but in academia, things tend to be much more long term.