It’s a difficult, frequently asked question in this era: How do you recover from a potentially career-ending social-media controversy?
This week, thanks to Travel Channel host Adam Richman, we learned that one answer is just… time. Though it helps if you’re a celebrity.
Richman made headlines in June 2014 after he went on a nasty Instagram rant against people who criticized a hashtag he used on a weight-loss photo. Shortly after, his new show, “Man Finds Food,” was pulled from the Travel Channel schedule. Now, two years later, Richman has officially bounced back with the network: The show (premiering on Monday night) returns for a second season with a new title, “Secret Eats With Adam Richman.”
When asked to answer questions about Richman’s past behavior and bringing back the show, the network provided a statement: “Travel Channel’s focus is on delivering fun and entertaining programming for virtual and active travelers. ‘Secret Eats with Adam Richman’ fits with that focus. We addressed and moved on from the incident that happened two years ago.”
The first word on everybody's lips when they think pizza-Kentucky! new show Secret Eats this Monday! August 8 pic.twitter.com/rAbSzmQ6rr
— Adam Richman (@AdamRichman) August 4, 2016
The issue started when Richman, one of the most popular Travel Channel personalities who starred in a number of food-centric shows, posted a picture to Instagram that showed off his drastic weight loss. “Had ordered this suit from a Saville Row tailor over a year ago. Think I’m gonna need to take it in a little…” he wrote, and added the hashtag #thinspiration.
Though Richman didn’t know it at the time, that hashtag is very controversial, as it’s associated with pro-anorexia groups and promotes eating disorders. When Richman’s followers educated him, he replied, “DILLIGAF?” (“Do I Look Like I Give a F—?”) Things quickly went downhill with people deeply offended by Richman’s response. Richman waged further war in the comment section with his critics, using four-letter words and a variety of insults: “Grab a razor blade and draw a bath. I doubt anyone will miss you,” he told one. To another, he said: “Only f—up it seems [was] your Dad’s choice to go without a condom.”
One of the people who saw the fight happen captured it all (including screengrabs) in an essay for XOJane. “If my use of the hashtag offended you, it was unintentional & for that I’m sorry,” Richman eventually wrote on Instagram, before deleting the entire post. He apologized again on Twitter, and after the story went viral, offered a statement. “I’ve long struggled with my body image and have worked very hard to achieve a healthy weight,” he said. “I’m incredibly sorry to everyone I’ve hurt.”
But it was too late. Though Travel Channel wouldn’t confirm at the time that the two events were related, “Man Finds Food” disappeared off the schedule before it debuted.
However, it appears time did the trick. In the interim, Richman starred on NBC’s “Food Fighters.” Then the first season of “Man Finds Food” eventually aired in Australia and finally debuted on Travel Channel in April 2015. This spring, the network announced that it had picked up the show for a new season and would change the title to “Secret Eats.” The 14-episode series “showcases Richman’s contagious enthusiasm and passion for discovering underground eats and follows him as he searches the world for mysterious, intriguing culinary hideaways,” according to a press release.
So it appears Richman is back on the Travel Channel’s good side, given that the show moved on with a fresh start. Though the network declined to make Richman available for comment, right after the controversy occurred, he referred to his time in the spotlight as a “wake-up call” when he realized that yes, people do pay extra-close attention to what celebrities do on social media.