Hot Ones by First We Feast is regarded as the best celebrity interview show on the Internet. Created by Chris Schonberger and hosted by Sean Evans, debuted on March 12th 2015 with the first episode featuring rapper Tony Yayo. The show’s format has the host and guest talk over ten chicken wings that get spicier and spicier with each question. Hot Ones has since become a phenomenon and features guests as big as Scarlett Johannsen and Gordon Ramsey.
Last June, local streaming giant iflix announced that they will be localising a number of shows by Complex, the parent company of First We Feast. This naturally included the license for their highly acclaimed talk show Hot Ones. They started by making Hot Ones Philippines, hosted by Sam Yg and featuring some of the hottest and current Filipino celebrities. Soon, a Malaysian adaptation was announced with Maya Karin as host and Prime Minister-In-Waiting Dato Seri’ Anwar Ibrahim as its first guest.
We here at Stuff had an exclusive viewing of this first episode and are grateful to iflix for that chance. That said, the show isn’t perfect and doesn’t live up to what Hot Ones is intended to be. Hot Ones first and foremost, was conceived as a talk show for the Internet Age and by the Internet Age. The spicy chicken wings might be a gimmick at first, but the exceptional journalism that is displayed by the host Sean Evans and his team are shown time and time again to be the show’s strongest point.
With the mix of the extensive research done by the Hot Ones team, a current and relevant guest, and the oncoming spicy wings, this show broke grounds in more ways than one. The first episode of Malaysia’s Hot Ones definitely tried to hone in on that with the first guest, Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim. And with that, the show succeeds in that regard. The Prime Minister-In-Waiting is eloquent and in his element, giving anecdotes on the last election. Giving further insight to the election that changed Malaysia, which owed most of its success due to the power of social media.
In regards to how the show looks, it is a one-to-one copy of the original Hot Ones, which is good. The Phillipines versions nails in this regard as well, so it’s nice to see a consistency between versions of the show. Though of course the Malaysian version takes it one step further with its localisation by serving up 10 satays instead of chicken wings. Which makes for a less messy experience compared to the usual Buffalo Wings, but it is a little weird to not eat satay with kuah kacang and with hot sauce instead.
One thing I can take pride is the first question they asked directly addressed a question me and Stuff Editor Heirul Kamel was wondering, which I eventually asked through Twitter. So kudos to iflix for asking if the sauces were worse than prison.
That said, the show has one major shortcoming, which mostly stems from the host, Maya Karin. Ms. Pontianak herself has not done her homework on the show at all. The reason the show is done over a plate of chicken wings is to make a casual, more relaxed environment for the guest to be comfortable and let loose. Maya Karin instead went full-on TV3/NTV 7 mode with the way she interviewed Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim. Nothing was chill, instead being more like an election post-mortem more than anything.
She doesn’t carry the show like Sean Evans or even Sam YG does. She even messes up the hallmarks of the show, that being the opening tagline: “The show with hot questions and even hotter wings.” Like they didn’t even try to adapt the line in any way, instead having Maya awkwardly butcher it. Her biggest offense to the show’s history and traditions: The Last Dab. The Last Dab comes at the end of the show, with the tradition being that the host and the guest will put a little extra of the hottest hot sauce on their last wing. They don’t have to do it, but its a general rule that everyone has to do it. Maya Karin instead was dousing the sauces all over hers and Dato Seri’s satays throughout the show.
Look, as Malaysians, we probably have a higher tolerance to the spice anyway, but that doesn’t mean that the hot sauces, who are the central selling point of the show by the way, should be relegated to a gimmick. Maya Karin even downplays the segments that Hot Ones are known for like “Explain That Gram” where the host will take a deep dive into the guest’s Instagram. She calls these segments and the interview itself a “game”. Clearly oblivious to what the show is and represents.
Besides that, one minor complaint would be the relative unattractive-ness of the sauces on hand. Ranging from actual sauces from the American show like The Last Dab and Hamajang, to common household sauces like Lingam’s and Nando’s.
Overall, iflix’s Hot Ones is off to a rocky start. While the guest is impeccable, the host could use more work to respect the source material and really give us the Hot Ones we deserve. If The Philippines can do it, why not us? If you want to watch this for yourself, it is streaming for free right now on iflix’s site: https://go.iflix.com/HotOnesAnwar