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Gordon Ramsay falls down the rabbit hole on 'Hotel Hell'

Season 2 | Episode 3 | “Applegate River Lodge” | Aired Aug 4, 2014

Alice in Wonderland was never my favorite story. Once Alice fell down that rabbit hole, her world was full of strange, angry characters, confusing plotlines and questionable substances, which always left me feeling uneasy. Seems there’s another rabbit hole in Applegate, Oregon, and Gordon Ramsay just fell into it on the latest episode of Hotel Hell.

alicefallingWelcome to Wonderland, or in this case, the Applegate River Lodge, located in gorgeous, picturesque Oregon. Built by its current owners about 20 years ago, the lodge is an impressive structure of timber and stone. From the outside, it looks like it should, in fact, be a wonderland of a resort. But much like Alice, Ramsay quickly discovers fighting, confusion and yes, even questionable substances.

Let’s meet our cast of characters.

pabutt1Richard—or “Pa Butt” as he’s called (no, we didn’t get the backstory on that, and I’m pretty sure we don’t want to know)—built the Applegate Lodge with his bare hands. Literally. He felled and stripped the trees and built it from the ground up. An impressive feat, sober or stoned, no question. What is less than impressive is the fact that for the past 20 years he’s been living the carefree life (read: stoned and irresponsible) in a ramshackle hut next door to the lodge, fondly referred to as the “Butt Hut.” Again, I don’t want to know.

Joanna—Pa Butt’s ex-wife, who runs the entire operation singlehandedly—seems like a lovely lady, but it quickly becomes evident that she’s a doormat.

Dusty and Duke—the Butt Boys?—are Richard and Joanna’s feuding sons, who detest each other so much they run the restaurant and the music programs the hotel offers separately—from each other as well as from the lodge. There’s a wife and a girlfriend, but they’re not important to this story.

Ramsay arrives to a cavernous, empty lobby (seriously, there’s no furniture) and no one to greet him. After pressing a buzzer, he’s made to wait for Richard to finish his joint (I’m sorry, his “cigarette”) before he comes out to greet his guest—HIS FAMOUS TV STAR GUEST WHO IS BRINGING AT LEAST THREE CAMERAS WITH HIM. Really, Pa Butt? You couldn’t take a break from the weed? Methinks I smell an opportunist who was thrilled to flaunt his hippie-ness on television. I mean, if that’s what the smell was that was oozing from my television screen. Oh, wait. Maybe that was incense—or herbs—as Richard tells Ramsay it is when he takes him to the Butt Hut and Ramsay immediately wrinkles his nose in disgust. My bad.

Ramsay: I love herbs!
Pa Butt: It’s like basil.
Ramsay: F*ck me. That is definitely not basil.

Don’t mess with Chef. He knows his basil. Watch the following clip.

Ramsay’s room could be gorgeous. It’s lofted, with a beautiful log stairway up to the bedroom. Instead, it smells “like cattle” and is full of outdated furniture and bedding, with stained carpets (Richard: “We party a lot here!”), not to mention the dead bugs on the pillows and windowsill. Richard blames Joanna for the décor and tells Ramsay (not for the last time) that the lodge “is not a business to me.”

Poor Joanna. And I say “poor Joanna” not because I feel sorry for her (she doesn’t have to be a doormat, after all), but because she’s actually poor. The lodge is almost a million dollars in debt and is losing anywhere from $5,000 to $15,000 every month. And Cheech and Chong aren’t helping matters. The profits her sons make from the restaurant and the music programs go straight into their own pockets. It’s time for Ramsay to turn on the tough love (someone has to do it).

First in Ramsay’s line of fire is Duke, who is in charge of the music programs the hotel offers. When Duke can’t seem to comprehend even the simplest questions, Ramsay asks him point-blank if he’s high. Duke says that he had a smoke “waaaay earlier, like this morning.” But I mean, he’s really stressed. Ramsay is disgusted.

Next up? Dusty, who we find out makes about $12,000 a month from restaurant profits. TWELVE THOUSAND DOLLARS A MONTH. Let me remind you that poor Joanna (again, literally) gets nothing from that. Her son—HER SON—runs the profitable restaurant FOR FREE while the lodge is almost a million dollars in debt. After hearing that, Ramsay hates the Butt Boys almost as much as they seem to hate each other.

According to Ramsay, “People have heard about my visit and both the hotel and restaurant are booked for the night. I feel sorry for them.”

Side note: If the hotel is bad enough for Gordon Ramsay and the Hotel Hell team to be called in, why in the hell would you book a room? Is being on television really worth enduring that kind of disgust? I mean, if your last name isn’t Kardashian?

As you’d expect, Dusty and crew are serving typical frozen fare in the restaurant, the guests are complaining. and Richard’s stoned dog is sitting tableside, totally jonesing for some grub. As you’d also expect, Ramsay is not impressed and scolds Dusty for multiple offenses: being a spoiled brat who is taking advantage of his mother is not too far from the offense of serving frozen salmon. Again, if you know Chef Ramsay is coming to your hotel, CHUCK THE FROZEN GRUB!

The hotel guests are complaining about their rooms and flicking goobers off their bedspreads WITH THEIR FINGERS. Really, these people had to know what they were getting themselves into. There’s not enough free wine in the world for me to endure goobers on my bed in exchange for six seconds of fame. But that’s just me and my standards, I guess.

It’s 10 p.m. and time for the music program to start. It’s super-popular. Well, super-popular if you’re a barefooted hippie and enjoy giant, dancing Jamaican Mardi Gras puppets and dancing mushrooms. Or if you’re stoned. Which, now that I think about it, are pretty much the same thing in Wonderland.


Ramsay can’t take it. He’s in hysterics: “These people are weird, but they sure are friendly.”

The guests up in their hotel rooms are fed up with the noise and Joanna is having to compensate room costs. “I don’t think I’ll be able to relax here,” one complains. Hey! Just go downstairs! Pa Butt can help you out with that.

In his room, Ramsay is getting ready for bed and pulls out his trusty blacklight. The pillows are covered with a spiderweb of spewage. Even the lampshades light up. THE LAMPSHADES. “It’s like a mosaic of semen,” Ramsay astutely points out. Hey, the man knows his mosaics. He unrolls his sleeping bag (which I pray is disposable) on top of the bed and settles in for the night, but by 1 a.m. the party is still going on downstairs and our man Ramsay has had it. He contemplates jumping out the window, but decides against it. He must be having flashbacks.


Only one thing can fix this disaster: The family meeting. Joanna is under stress, no one is helping, Richard just wants to smoke weed, and Cheech and Chong just want to point fingers. It’s hopeless. Or is it?

After the patented Hotel Hell focus group—where one disgruntled guest complains about finding a pair of underwear in her bed (OHMYGOD) and another tells Ramsay he was invited to the Butt Hut to smoke some a joint—Joanna tries to soften up Ramsay by showing him a photo album of the blood, sweat and tears that went into the family-powered construction of the Applegate Lodge. Aww. It’s actually touching, until you realize how insane they all are and OHMYGOD THERE WAS UNDERWEAR IN THE BED.

After a dip in the river (read: another opportunity for Ramsay to show off his royal blue Speedo, thankyouverymuch), it’s time for a family business meeting. Ramsay sends Jerry Garcia away and has a “come to Jesus” talk with Joanna and the boys. And by the power of Ramsay, it ends in a bro-hug and Mama tears and declarations of the intent to whip this lodge into shape! Hotel Hell team? It’s go time!

The lobby gets furniture (the Charlie Brown–striped walls and pillows were confusing, but let’s remember, this is Wonderland), the menu gets an overhaul (fresh ingredients!), the guest rooms get clean carpet and semen-free bedding, and the music venue gets moved outdoors, with bedrooms in tents (free underwear not included … yet). And best yet? Pa Butt promises not to offer Alice or any of the other guests special “herbs” ever again.

Update: Apparently the Applegate Lodge is still running successfully and the family is working and coexisting (in a haze) together. Any locals want to chime in? Is this the truth, or do they think we’re all stoned and actually believe that?

Hotel Hell airs Mondays at 9/8C on Fox.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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