I Used To Be A Waitress, And I Am Just Not Buying The First Episode of “Sweetbitter”

sweetbitter

On Sunday night, Starz premiered a new show based on the 2016 national bestseller by Stephanie Danler, Sweetbitter. A strong female lead set up to conquer NYC circa 2006 mixed with the best coming-of-age atmosphere (the food and beverage industry)? Oh, I was sold and had already logged the premiere date in my iCalendar so I wouldn’t miss a second.

Sweetbitter, which airs every Sunday at 8 p.m., will follow 22-year-old Tess as she flees her hometown for the hustle and bustle of NYC without a plan or support system. She somehow picks up a restaurant gig that shows her the colorful (and hectic) behind-the-scenes life of the food service industry. What she witnesses is not exactly what she expected (a romanticized version of waitressing in New York) and she’s instantly pulled into this world of work hard, play harder, while trying to keep up with her co-workers and their fascinating lives. Interestingly, Tess divulges very little about herself and her motives, which could make for an interesting (or frustrating) season.

This is what we learn about Tess in the first episode of Sweetbitter. It’s not a lot.

1. She essentially up and leaves behind her current life by leaving a note for her parents. But not before doing one of those dramatic “don’t look back” exits.

2. Even though she’s “fled” from her old life in a hurry (or so I assume), she miraculously already has an apartment waiting for her in NYC as soon as she arrives. It’s like she just signed up on a bulletin board that she needed housing and someone handed her a pair of keys. Cool, cool. 

3. She immediately lands an interview at a high-end restaurant in Manhattan with no experience. How? No one knows.

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From the above statements alone, it’s hard to believe that someone can make a decision to move to one of the biggest, busiest and hardest cities in the U.S. and miraculously run into no trouble with housing or employment. Sure, people follow their dreams every day, packing everything they own into a few suitcases and heading out to make those dreams a reality. But to land in a city with no plan and so easily acquire job at a super swanky high-end restaurant in NYC off the bat? That’s as believable as Elle Woods getting accepted into Harvard IRL.

Coming from someone who waited tables for 10+ years, I’m super sensitive to hospitality etiquette and the like. So the interview scene between Tess and her soon-to-be boss was hilarious, to say the least. He asks simple questions about her background and knowledge of wine, to which her answers clearly scream, “NO EXPERIENCE WHATSOEVER.” In fact, her lack of general dining experience would have never even gotten her the interview in the first place, let alone a trial run.

I can definitely relate to the snarky attitudes from her new co-workers as she starts her first day. As hard as it is to snag a fine dining service gig, it’s where you make the big bucks, because expensive food equals a higher tip. But it also means more responsibility and higher expectations as it relates to your knowledge of food and wine, so to see Tess being offered a chance without any sort of prior training is a slap in the face to those who have dedicated so much time into (for some) their professional career.

Lastly, the behind-the-scenes look at what goes on outside of the dining room is SO accurate — but Tess would have been sent home and/or fired from the moment she couldn’t carry a bowl of soup without spilling it on herself. Every task she was given was either done incorrectly or not at all. Has Tess ever tasted food before? No, but really. The fact that she was so amazed by the knowledge others had on sense of taste and different palettes is mind boggling to say the least. Like, I remember my first taste of quality food, LOL.

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I’ll probably watch at least the next episode to see where the show is trying to go with all of this. It’ll be interesting to see Tess (hopefully) start to belong and get the hang of working in a restaurant, or at least, the basics. And to be honest, I’m excited for restaurant drama. I used to live for restaurant drama. Everyone is on top of each other all the time trying to make money and complaining about crappy guests, just to go out later and party with the same person who stole your last two tables because they “didn’t know” they were cut yet. It’s all a game, and some play it better than others.

Sweetbitter airs every Sunday at 8 p.m. on Starz. Will you be watching?

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