Anthony Bourdain sadly left this world way too early. But during his time in this world, he developed one of the most incredible shows of all time. Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown took viewers to places no one else was exploring. Today, we’ll look at 15 things you probably didn’t know about this amazing show.
How It Started
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It was in Lebanon where Bourdain came up with the idea of creating the show. While working on a different show there, he saw that Lebanon was much more than a place torn apart by relentless war and strife, and decided to tell the stories of the people he saw behind the front lines.
The Impact of Beirut
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According to CNN, his stay in Beirut not only affected his way of doing TV, but changed him on a personal level. So much so, that he almost named his daughter after the city. Did you know the show helped a jailed person? Slide next to read all about it.
The Show Helped a Jailed Journalist
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After Bourdain interviewed two journalists in Iran, Jason Rezaian and Yeganeh Salehi, the pair was arrested on espionage charges. Salehi was quickly released, but Rezaian remained imprisoned for 2 years. Bourdain advocated for him until he was released, when he expressed his gratitude, claiming Bourdain shed a light on the censorship of the press in Iran.
The Crew Participated in Everything
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Viewers only see Bourdain sitting with the locals and trying new food, but the whole crew actually ate and drank together. To help people feel comfortable while they’re being filmed, everybody joined in the drinking, the carousing, and the conversation.
It Involved More Travel than You Think
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The crew was on the road for about 250 days a year, spending more time together than with their families. They traveled so much, that Bourdain was working on filing his 12th passport in 2018. People were surprised to know that there is actually quite a number of people who hated the show. Slide to see who.
Beer Snobs Hated the Show
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In 2016, the craft beer community criticized Bourdain because, according to them, he wasn’t trying the best beer in each country. He responded saying that obsessing over beer just ruins the whole bar experience, which is simply to drink and have a good time.
The Show Made a Big Impact, and He Knew It
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Anthony Bourdain was well aware of the influence he had through his show, and he intended to make the best of it. He knew that featuring a place on TV could change it dramatically, so he was very careful about his choices, and he always focused on looking at a place from a different perspective. The show was under fire for some serious accusations, and we’ll dive into that on the next slide.
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The show actually featured graphic images of animals being slaughtered, as part of local traditions of wherever they were. In 2015, thousands signed a petition to cancel Parts Unknown, to which Bourdain responded:
“I do not promote animal cruelty. But I think people should know where meat comes from, and knowing, they should feel free to decide what they do from there.“
He had a lot more to say about vegetarianism, we’ll go into it in the next slide.
He Considered Vegetarianism a First World Luxury
Bourdain never held back when it came to his opinions. He was very outspoken about believing that being vegan or vegetarian was a first world luxury, as those in poor countries who don’t have a choice when it comes to food. We talked about the impact of the show, but how did the show impact Bourdain? Find out next.
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Being on the road constantly and meeting lots of people along the way changed Bourdain. According to him, the places that touched him the most were the Philippines, Senegal and Greece. He wanted to make viewers feel what he felt when he visited them.
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A big part of the show was about Bourdain eating foods that none of us would think of eating. So, why did he do it?
“… people are being nice to us, they’re giving us their hospitality. … I may end up at grandma’s house and I may not like grandma’s turkey, but I’m sure as hell going to clean my plate and compliment her on it because it’s her house. And that’s a really important part of being a guest,” he explained.
The show was very popular in America, of course. But up next, we’ll see in what other regions the show really took off.
Loved by the Middle East
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Bourdain was lauded for humanizing and showing the true faces of the people living in some of the most conflicted areas in the world. For example, he was welcomed with open arms in Israel, where people thought he defined the people of the conflict as faces instead of statistics and numbers.
Although the show never cut back on footage, one episode in particular was censored. Click Next to see what happened.
The Seattle Episode
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During the making of the Seattle episode, Bourdain interviewed Nikki Barron of Techbridge Girls, an organization that encourages women to get involved in science and tech. However, the interview never made it to the show, and the reason why was never explained, which made many people unhappy. One episode in particular dealt with Bourdain’s inner struggles, which we’ll cover next.
One Episode Actually Featured his Depression
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On an episode showing Argentina, where it is extremely common for people to do therapy, Bourdain decided to try it as well. Throughout the episode, some parts of his therapy sessions were shown, where he talked about feeling hopelessness, desperation, and isolation. Some people were worried, but he apologized and said everything was fine.
He Had no Plans to Retire
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After years of traveling and filming, people wondered if Bourdain would end the show soon. But, less than a month before his passing, he confessed that he had no plans to retire or end the show:
“I just think I’m too nervous, neurotic, driven. I would have had a different answer a few years ago. I might have deluded myself into thinking that I’d be happy in a hammock or gardening. But no, I’m quite sure I can’t. I’m going to pretty much die in the saddle,” he revealed.