Sean Evans is a perfect fit as the host of "Hot Ones." (Illustration by James O'Toole, Grand Valley State University)

‘Hot Ones’ and Its Host Sean Evans Are Only Getting Spicier

As the YouTube series prepares to release its eighth season, there’s never been a better time to tune in.

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As the YouTube series prepares to release its eighth season, there’s never been a better time to tune in.

“Hot Ones,” the show with hot questions and even hotter wings, is a wildly inventive celebrity interview web-series. Over the course of an episode, host Sean Evans and guests plow through 10 stages of chicken wings made with sauces increasing in spiciness as contestants advance.

“Hot Ones” measures the increasing levels of heat on the Scoville Scale, a metric that quantifies the spiciness of a sauce by determining how much capsaicin it contains. As of Season 7, the first few wings generally begin lower on the scale, containing only few hundred to a few thousand units. The final two sauces, however, climb to capsaicin levels exceeding 1 – 2 million. You can see, as the interviewee eats through the ascending levels, how drastically the Scoville rankings climb and watch as the heat becomes a component of the interview itself.

Most of the celebs start off confidently, casually chowing wings down and answering questions with aplomb, before then going bonkers (dripping sweat, tears, panic) after the tiniest nibble in the latter stages. The shocked facial expressions on some of the most renowned stars in America are priceless. Not only that, but “Hot Ones” propels its entertainment value by peppering the intrepid subjects with tough, well-researched questions that are much more intriguing than the softball queries they normally face.

You may ask, “Why the hell would anyone commit to complete this challenge to its end?” Well, contestants who tap out of the challenge will forever be listed on The Wall of Shame, with a far-from-flattering close-up shot of their face during their experience. Viewers see the Wall of Shame whenever a contestant taps out, as the show will impose a sequence where the current contestant’s headshot is moved into the collection of past failures, set to depressing background music. Out of 137 episodes, the Wall of Shame has victimized the reputation of only nine guests. The tactic has proven to be an effective motivator, as many celebs cite the wall as the main reason they persevere through the hottest sauces.

The web-series began in 2015 and has since evolved to become an eight-season powerhouse with big names like Natalie Portman, Jeff Goldblum and Vanessa Hudgens all participating in 2018. Since its beginning, “Hot Ones” has increased the intensity of their sauces, upped the budget on special effects and, consequently, skyrocketed their channel’s (First We Feast) subscription count. They now release two seasons a year; Season 7 recently concluded with an episode featuring “Weird Al” Yankovic, but Evans promised the crew will be back in the studio as soon as January 2019.

An undeniable strength of “Hot Ones” is the wide array of celebrities who appear on the show, including interviews with actors/actresses, comedians, athletes, musicians and more. Stand-up comedians Bill Burr and Tom Segura were hilarious during their recent visits, both struggling to the very end.

For athletes, the web series has focused in on NBA players (possibly due to sponsorships from the NBA), and hosted Detroit Pistons power-forward Blake Griffin and Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid this year alone. “Hot Ones” pays attention to other sports as well, though. In recent seasons, Evans has grilled players like NFL inside-linebacker Von Miller, tight-end Rob Gronkowski and MLB first-baseman Anthony Rizzo. However, since neither of these leagues have been represented in the series’ last two seasons, the show may have made the decision to specialize in interviewing NBA players exclusively.

Regarding musicians and recording artists, the web-series’ affiliation with Complex Magazine gives reason for the bevy of rap artists that have appeared throughout the series. Season 7 exposed Lil Yachty and Anderson .Paak to the vicious hot-wing challenge, and Wiz Khalifa appeared in Season 6. However, “Hot Ones” doesn’t only incorporate new-school hip-hop artists; the show has also had appearances from old-school veterans, such as Coolio, Trick Daddy, E-40 and Redman. Hip-hop fans of all ages can find an interview they enjoy. “Hot Ones” doesn’t contain themselves to hip-hop either; for instance, soft-rocker Mac Demarco and singer John Mayer have been featured on the show as well.

Some of the most notable guests to ever be on the show include: James Franco and Bryan Cranston (S2-E46), Kevin Hart (S2-E32), Kevin Durant (S4 E7), Neil deGrasse Tyson (S3 E17), Tyra Banks (S5 E14) and Gary Vaynerchuk (S4 E13).

Despite the glimmering names of stars, “Hot Ones” would be nothing without Sean Evans, the show’s fantastic interviewer and host. Evans is a terrific conversationalist who fully engages every guest. He is an active listener who is patient with his interviewees and is very respectful of the wide variety of perspectives he runs into on his show.

For instance, in Season 6, much of Natalie Portman’s interview consisted of promoting her film about the state of factory farming in America, “Eating Animals.” And, although many would consider Evans a meat connoisseur, he was more than open to giving Portman a stage to present some of her arguments against the meat industry. Since the series’ audience consists of many kinds of meat-lovers, it was particularly commendable of “Hot Ones” to incorporate guests who actively question America’s meat industry, despite the risk of off-putting their audience.

How did Portman eat wings if she’s a vegetarian? “Hot Ones” provided the actress with vegan wings for her challenge, just as they have for guests Russel Brand and Ricky Gervais in the past. Evans is also polite enough to eat vegan with them.

Another amazing characteristic Evans possesses is his ability to maintain composure despite eating every single spicy wing alongside his contestants. From question one to question 10 he is rarely phased by the increasing hotness of the wings, and he delivers questions consistently throughout.

A tip of the hat to not only Evans but also his staff, for their ability to research and craft fascinating questions. Many times, celebrities are pleasantly caught off guard by the depth of Evans’ questions. He and his team dig deep into the lives of their guests and uncover facts that even die-hard fans of the celeb may have never known.

Evans also does an excellent job of incorporating several dimensions of his guests’ careers and lives, rather than lingering on one subject and boring both the celebrity and the audience. For instance, much of Blake Griffin’s interview strayed away from basketball and spoke to his ventures in comedy. This approach keeps the interviews fast-paced and fluid, as guests are enthusiastic to field questions different from the ones they normally encounter while doing the media circuit.

“Hot Ones” will be releasing weekly episodes for Season 8 starting this month, which will introduce a new lineup of hot-sauces and celeb-guests. As a fun addition, the sauces used on the show can be purchased on this site; the interview format is even something that could easily be turned into a fun game with friends. So head on over the “First We Feast” channel and catch up on some of the best “Hot Ones” episodes before the new season of spice begins.

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