Instagram isn’t just for vacation pictures, food snapshots and whatever it is “influencers” do. For Bill Oakley, the former “Simpsons” showrunner and current co-executive producer of Netflix’s “Disenchantment,” Instagram has become the prime spot for sharing in-depth analysis on one of his favorite topics — fast food.
Taco Bell. Burger King. Arby’s. You name it, he’s probably reviewed it. Oakley has posted dozens of reviews this summer, turning his Instagram account into a labor of love, one 60-second video at a time.
“I do have a passion [for fast food],” Oakley told TheWrap. “Fast food and convenience food — junk food — is something I’ve been interested in for years. It’s not like I make fun of this stuff. I’m very interested in it, and when I find something I love, I want to tell people about it.”
Oakley’s recaps are easy enough to digest: He picks a restaurant, focuses on one item, eats it, and then gives his immediate impression. As you’d expect from a comedy writer, Oakley adds a dash of humor, but also a level of sincerity that comes from a true fast food lover — born from a childhood in the “boondocks” of Maryland, as he put it, where even McDonald’s was hard to come by. That combo has made him a food pope of sorts to his modest (by Instagram celebrity standards) but growing following of 7,300 people.
“I love to pontificate about crap like this,” Oakley explained.”And I’m always delighted to make new discoveries.”
One notable delight was Oakley’s maiden voyage to Jersey Mike’s sandwich shop. The sandwich — “infinitely better than Subway,” Oakley shared — ended up leaving Oakley passed out in his driveway, leaving his kids to snap a picture of him asleep at the wheel.
For “Simpsons” diehards, Oakley’s new role as the Gordon Ramsay of fast food has been fitting. Perhaps his most famous contribution to the show centered on food. The “steamed hams” scene — where Principal Skinner attempts to pass off Krusty Burgers as his own “patented Skinnerburgers” to an incredulous Superintendent Chalmers — has taken on a life of its own as a meme, two decades after it originally aired. (When it comes to burger chains, Oakley gave TheWrap his definitive ranking: In-N-Out in first, followed by Freddy’s, Five Guys, and Shake Shack.)
But Oakley didn’t plan on making this his side job when he posted his first review back in May. Oakley — who said he’s “always loved” McDonald’s but has grown frustrated with the chain since it isn’t “innovating very much” — decided to weigh in on the new “fresh beef,” rather than frozen, Quarter Pounder. “It’s a slight improvement,” relayed Oakley. Afterwards, the positive feedback — even from some McDonald’s bigwigs — surprised Oakley and galvanized him to keep his food tour going.
And because it’s a subject near and dear to his heart, Oakley has been quick to point out when he’s let down. A recent review of the “Instant Perfect Fries Maker,” a cheap at-home french fry option, still riles him up.
“The freakin’ easy french fry maker was an incredible ripoff,” Oakley vented. “When I started filming it, I thought it was going to work, so I had no idea it was going to be such an incredible calamity. And I think that made for a funny video.”
From a tech standpoint, Oakley is also ready and willing to explain his decision to use Instagram, rather than other social platforms. “I Deleted Facebook — I don’t like Facebook in any way, shape or form,” Oakley said, before acknowledging Facebook owns Instagram.”I’m not making a lot of progress in my protest.” Twitter, with its roaming trolls and unending political debates, wasn’t an option for Oakley, either, even though he has four-times as many followers there compared to Instagram.
“Every time I look at Twitter for more than 10 minutes, I get mad,” Oakley said. “On Instagram, whatever they do, they have a great filtering system, you just see photos of people’s delicious meals and vacations and crap like that. I realize it’s a phony environment, but it’s a pleasant phony environment that I enjoy.”
It’s an environment he doesn’t plan on leaving anytime soon. To keep the hits coming, Oakley said he scours various Twitter accounts and websites to see what “strikes my fancy.” He’s upped his editing game, too, leveraging iMovie on his iPhone 7 to sprinkle in songs and TV clips. If there’s a restaurant in need of review, he wants to hear about it.
The endgame for Oakley? It’s quite clear. To become an “Instagram d-bag” that gets “my own brand of premium vodka and gets a DJ night in Las Vegas.”