Why John Hesling’s All Fired Up About American Barbecue Showdown

American Barbecue Showdown​, making its debut on Netflix on September 18, follows the country’s best backyard smokers. John Hesling, President of Maverick TV USA, explains why it’s not like any food competition you’ve seen before. 

How does this series differ from other barbecue shows?

American Barbecue Showdown differs from other barbecue shows because of its tone, execution and cast. Tonally, it feels like the best kind of Summer day when you’re out in the yard, firing up the grill and cooking for family and friends. The cast are fantastic and memorable – they are  from all parts of the country, and with that bring their own flavor and style to the show. And visually, the show looks amazing – and perfectly captures that best Summer day ever vibe. In a time where barbecues with your family and friends are most likely off the table, we hope this series will help in restoring Summer in at least one small way.

How do you see reality TV evolving in 2021? Do you think any production changes due to the pandemic (like shooting from home) will endure past the health crisis?

Nothing beats the energy you get from physically being in a room with people or having a live audience – that is hard to recreate when it’s virtual. I don’t think everything from the way we’re producing things now will continue after the pandemic. There have definitely been some very creative concepts, and there will be lessons learned about how much can be achieved remotely – even in terms of directing shows and post production – but in terms of formats, there may be a bit of viewer fatigue with COVID-19 programming shot from home. So, unless the show feels like it’s being shot at home for a creative reason (e.g. Celebrity Watch Party) rather than a COVID reason, I don’t think those styles of shows will continue.

 What are the biggest challenges in producing reality series?

Making sure that the approach is fresh and that you have a new and innovative take, and of course making all that work within the budget and schedule! Finding creative ways to introduce audiences into new worlds, cultures, ideas, and more, so that the audience feels they are getting something they haven’t seen before, is something all reality TV show producers are challenged with today when faced with a global audience and unlimited competition.

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