Burning Questions | Kyle Kim
On March 12, 2015, Sean Evans first introduced the world to “Hot Ones”, “a show with hot questions and even hotter wings.” Now, over six years, sixteen seasons, and dozens of painful trips to the bathroom later, the show has grown to monumental heights. From uncovering the secrets of extremely high-profile guests like Gordon Ramsey and Paul Rudd to providing some of the best reaction memes of the last decade, this humble YouTube show has left an impact on mainstream culture that no one could have ever imagined. But how did such a show, with an unknown host and no network to support them, become the media sensation that it did?
Looking back, one can almost envision the success of “Hot Ones.” In an era where every talk show can essentially be boiled down to a previously well-known comedian sitting behind a prop desk in a New York studio, “Hot Ones” provided an extremely well-thought-out and creative take on interviewing celebrities. The show, which has guests eat spicier and spicier hot sauces while they answer a variety of hard-hitting questions, provides a simple but compelling concept. Its execution was similarly admirable, with impressive production quality, intricately researched questions, and guest appearances from Machine Gun Kelly, Anthony Rizzo, DJ Khaled, and more in its first season alone.
Another vital part of the show's success is the host, Sean Evans. Like the show itself, Evans is a breath of fresh air in current talk show entertainment. His ability to keep a conversation going despite the immense pain on both himself and the interviewee is extremely admirable. The amount of research he and his team puts into each interview is nearly unrivaled. His calm personality, incredible spice tolerance, and dedication to his job are a vital part of “Hot Ones.”
With all of these factors combined, “Hot Ones” was able to break into mainstream media quite quickly. At first, this was most evident by the amount of iconic celebrities that would join the show for their press runs, including Scarlett Johanson, Elizabeth Olsen, Pete Davidson, Billie Eilish, and more. Not only would these figures come on the show, they would compliment the show’s concept, questions, and Evans himself, thus boosting the show’s credibility. More recently, SNL created a sketch around the show in March of 2021, ingraining the show within pop culture. Finally, the show broke a major milestone for any YouTube channel, with its host, First We Feast, reaching 10 million subscribers around April of this year.
With all of this in mind, how does “Hot Ones” fit into media at large? After all, the big names of late night talk shows have an undeniable presence on both cable television and YouTube, with Jimmy Kimmel and Jimmy Fallon’s channels boasting 18.1 million and 28.4 subscribers respectively (as of 9/27/2021). As of now, “Hot Ones” seems to have novelty on their side. With every new celebrity to face the Da Bomb and The Last Dab, interest in the show will regenerate and grow. More importantly, I am convinced that the creative masterminds behind ”Hot Ones” will continue to improve and adapt the show in a way that cable shows simply haven’t been able to do. In any case, I sincerely hope “Hot Ones” serves as a refreshing alternative to mainstream talk shows for many more seasons to come.