Somebody Feed Phil on Netflix works because Phil Rosenthal isn't Anthony Bourdain

On CNET's I'm So Obsessed podcast, Rosenthal says that the travel series connects with its audience because when he travels he wants food he can eat, and not necessarily bugs.

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Patrick Holland
2 min read

On the Netflix travel show Somebody Feed Phil, Phil Rosenthal travels to cities around the world meeting people, seeing sights and trying food.


Writer and producer Phil Rosenthal describes himself as the luckiest man in the world. It's not because he created the popular sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond. And it isn't because in 2000, he directed President Bill Clinton in a humorous video for the White House correspondents' dinner. It's because Rosenthal hosts the travel and food series on Netflix named Somebody Feed Phil, which for me seems like a dream job.

In each episode, Rosenthal travels to a different city around the world to experience its people, sights and food. Season 4 of Somebody Feed Phil landed on Netflix in October 2020, and watching it during a pandemic, when most people can't travel, is a bit surreal. It almost feels like a sci-fi story that takes place in an alternate reality. But it's the show's escapism that really captivates. And at the center of it all is Rosenthal, who's our traveling everyman. He's a surrogate for many of us who want to have the experiences "Phil" is having.

On CNET's I'm So Obsessed podcast, Rosenthal explains the difference between a travel host like Anthony Bourdain, who he views as a superhero, and himself. 

"I figured there might be more people out there who, like me, watch Bourdain and go, 'He's amazing. I'm never doing that.' And yet, there should be some kind of travel show for them," said Rosenthal. "What do I want out of a vacation? Well, I'd like a hotel with a bed and a pillow. I'd like food that I recognize as food and not bugs, which are things that we don't necessarily eat."
During our conversation, he explains how his brother, a producer on Somebody Feed Phil, likes to push Rosenthal out of his comfort zone. He also shares what it was like working on Everybody Loves Raymond, and the complexity of directing an active US president in a comedy video.

Listen to my entire conversation with Rosenthal on Spotify or Apple Podcasts. You can watch all four seasons of Somebody Feed Phil on Netflix. Also, you can subscribe to I'm So Obsessed on your favorite podcast app. In each episode, Connie Guglielmo or I catch up with an artist, actor or creator to learn about work, career and current obsessions.