Stanley Tucci’s Searching for Italy has not been renewed. For now, you’ll have to get your fix of Italian locations and food porn elsewhere.
As part of a wider CNN rebranding that led to the termination of numerous hosts and the cancellation of all its original programming, the network has axed Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy, a popular travel- and cuisine-themed TV series that ran for two seasons and cast its star, previously known mostly for his film roles, in a sleek new light. Tucci confirmed the news earlier this week during an appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, telling viewers he “hoped there would be” a third season, but that doesn’t seem to be in the cards right now.
During his Tonight Show appearance, Tucci hinted at a major reason for the show’s success: the enforced stay-at-home lifestyle and restrictions of Covid-struck 2021. “We had a captive audience,” he said. “People were sort of desperate to get out, and they lived vicariously through us.”
The show went on to become a two-time winner of the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Hosted Nonfiction Series and to receive a 2021 Critic’s Choice Award for Best Travel/Adventure Series. It has also greatly benefited Italian travel-focused tour companies, many of whom are now offering Stanley Tucci-themed travel packages, taking visitors to the sites he visited onscreen. Since the show’s premiere, Tucci has also published a memoir, Taste: My Life Through Food (2021), adding to his prior credits as author of The Tucci Cookbook (2012) and The Tucci Table (2014).
However, not everyone was enamored of the popular show. Critics say Tucci’s a charming TV host, but a less-than-thorough tour guide. Helen Rosner, food writer of The New Yorker, claims that the show mostly coasts on Tucci’s charisma rather than any culinary discoveries or cultural insights: “[Balsamic vinegar in Modena, pizza in Naples, and risotto in Milan are] not new, and [the show’s] gloss on the less glamorous aspects of Italian culture and history are rarely more than decorative,” Rosner wrote shortly after Searching for Italy’s premiere.
In The Atlantic, Sophie Gilbert acknowledged that the show positioned itself as wholesome escapism before comparing it to another CNN travel series, Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown, but noted that where Bourdain’s premise was about showcasing underexplored traditions, Tucci’s emphasis was on “the most obvious spots on the Italian itinerary.” Discoveries were not the goal. He gave the audience more of what they already knew.
More recently, senior reporter at Eater Bettina Makalintal pointed to an over-saturation of Italy travel-and-food shows similar to Tucci’s, imploring networks to give other countries’ culinary traditions their due.
Fallon, during Tucci’s recent appearance on his show, was more generous with his praise. “You’ve inspired people to travel and to cook,” he told Tucci. “It’s a big deal.”
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