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Tania is currently the Founder & Editor-in-Chief of The Hudsucker, and Senior Editor at the Nashville, Tennessee based PopCulture.com. With past writing and editing credits with Womanista, Quietly, the International Women's Media Foundation (IWMF) and NBC Newsvine, she is currently a member of Indianapolis based, Society of Professional Journalists — one of the oldest organizations in the U.S. that promotes and represents journalists. She is an avid Indianapolis Colts, Elvis Presley and baseball fan as well as a lover of pancakes and fine cheeses, film, and music. Tania is a Hoosier at heart with a passionate wanderlust for always traveling and giving back to those in her community. She is currently studying at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. Follow Tania on Twitter: @westlifebunny.

‘Wahlburgers’ Beef Up Reality TV

We may love to explore new foods and add them to our diets, but we never really stray too far from the comfort of a burger. Burgers are pretty much mandatory on the summer menu, but even during the cold, winter seasons, they can bring much warmth to the ordinary eater. The burger is a symbol of good old comfort eating and is one of the culinary world’s most recognized creations. It’s simple and yet, always perfect to the conscious eater. Did you know there are even four days in the year devoted to the burger? I kid you not, and no one knows burgers than master culinary chef, Paul Wahlberg and his famous younger brothers, Donnie and Mark.

The Classic Wahlburger // Image Credit: Wahlburgers

Hmm, sound familiar? Yep. It’s those Wahlbergs! Donnie, known for being one-fifth of  the “New Kids on the Block” turned TV star; and his younger brother Mark, the popular movie star, help beef up prime-time with their brother, Paul in a new docuseries for A&E Television called Wahlburgers. The Dorchester-bred family invites viewers into a glimpse of their life and how they run their two Hingham, Massachusetts gourmet restaurants Alma Nove and Wahlburgers, offering a fresh and more intimate look at the famous family. The show served up some tasty ratings in its season premiere last Wednesday, dishing up a hot 3.3. million viewers for the network.

As the first location of Wahlburgers is been doing very well, the family decides it’s time to expand outside of Hingham. While Donnie plays mediator to both his brothers and their vision for the company, Paul wants to add a location in the city, but Mark has his sights set on expanding globally and franchising the name, mentioning Abu Dhabi. Not exactly what Paul wants and that begs for drama. Of course with every reality show comes a slice or two of drama, and that’s going to be typical here seeing as it is a family business and each member has their own unique vision. The brothers do break out into a bit of heated arguing, with Mark being a little too hard and bossy towards Paul at times, while Donnie tries his hardest to understand his older brother’s wishes but provides the valuable input he needs in order to have a business flourish. In a scene from the premiere episode, the two older brothers visit a potential area for their next Wahlburgers location in Boston that leaves Paul a little apprehensive as he doesn’t want to open up across another burger joint. With a name like Wahlberg coming into the neighborhood, such business ethics is admirable but Donnie stresses how competition is healthy and mandatory for flourishing businesses. Of course though, they keep looking.

The show sounds like it should be on the Food Network considering it’s about a booming restaurant business, but the unscripted series is not exactly about burgers as it is more about  a look into the family, what they’ve been through, and how they work together to make decisions for the impending expansion of Wahlburgers. While Donnie and Mark have a stake in the business, the gourmet burger joint is run day-to-day by older brother Paul, with well thought input from the Wahlberg family matriarch, Alma. Alma is heavily featured in the show and absolutely adorable, especially when hilariously fueling her children’s competitive streak in a family favorite running gag as who is really her favorite son. While there is seriousness to the business angle to the half hour show, some of the scenes come off like moments in a sitcom, full of day-to-day hilarity and colorful characters from the family’s past, including the original Johnny Drama (played by Kevin Dillon on Entourage) and the foodie daredevil known simply as Nacho. In tonight’s episode, Donnie brings home his girlfriend, Jenny McCarthy and tries to convince his brother Paul to name a burger after her for the restaurant’s “Burger of the Month.”

The ‘berger’ Family: As seen from left to right, Mark, Paul, Alma, and Donnie Wahlberg. // Image Credit: A&E Television

While it’s a known fact that Mark and Donnie are the most recognized Wahlbergs, Paul and Alma really stand out in Wahlburgers and might be finding some new fans in their own merit. Alma is extremely fierce and a typical mom, always looking out for her children and doing what she does best. She has incredible heart and that can be vibrantly seen in her kids. In moments she’s alone with Paul, Donnie or Mark, you can see how she genuinely lights up and they are kids once again in her arms. In many ways, they are total mama’s boys.  Donnie shares in the pilot how none of them do anything without their mother’s backing. At one point in the episode, Alma pushes an assistant on Paul despite his indifference to the decision. Donnie warns him, “You gotta listen to mom, gotta listen to what she says.” Inevitably, he does and ends up with an assistant who is the daughter of one of her friends.

Paul is extremely hardworking, dedicated to not just his job but his family, has a solid business ethic and holds his own name while having a lot of fun with his work. At times he does come off a little stressed out, but that’s understandable. What’s great about this show is that it doesn’t at all shy away from the family’s humble beginnings, nor cover up the fact that the boys were trouble-makers in the neighborhood. Instead, the show focuses on the second chance they all got, chronicling the journey they have made from those days and how hard they have worked to be where they are. It goes with Alma’s saying, “When push comes to shove, and you need your family, your family needs to be there.”

Wahlburgers is a solid, warm story of middle-America that we all really adore and root for. The show not only is an effective marketing tool for their expansion plans, but grabs you instantly and satiates your need for something really wholesome and at the same time, relatable. The family is very natural and come off incredibly generous with not just each other or their patrons, but the community. The Wahlberg appeal will be a driving factor for audiences, both of the show and restaurants but take away the clout this family has, and they are truly salt-of-the-earth types who have worked hard and offer an intimate, heartfelt look into what makes a family business run. It’s reassuring to see that their burger joint has solid foundations and in many ways, is a testament to who they are. Paul says, “Every single burger comes down to who we are, and where we came from.” With such an outlook and objective for their product, that’s exactly what this show is all about.

Check out a clip from the first episode of Wahlburgers:

Wahlburgers airs every Wednesday at 10:30 pm ET on A&E. Check your local listings! For more information on the restaurant, visit their official website at Wahlburgers or visit them when you’re in Boston at 19 Shipyard Dr., Hingham, MA.

Connect with Tania Hussain on Twitter and Google+!

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  1. ‘Wahlburgers’ Beef Up Reality TV | westlifebunny - January 29, 2014

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