Monday, July 21, 2008

The Next Food Network Star - Episode Number...who am I kidding? I don't care. (Subtitle: I've Lost All Respect for Food Network)

You know, I kind of stopped watching "The Next Food Network Star" on Food Network, mostly because I have been enamored with Sunday Night Baseball - both with the actual games and trying to determine if Jon Miller's wardrobe stylist really, really hates him or Jon Miller is trying to win a bet with someone who thinks he will NOT wear a yellow shirt, with white collar, and a tie that gets more and more ridiculous every week. Seriously, this shirt:

Plus this color:

With variations on this tie:

Do NOT make for pleasurable viewing for me, or anyone else, for that matter. Add to that his inane commentary and Joe Morgan's arrogant ramblings about what a great player he was, and it was clearly time for me to bail out on Sunday Night Baseball and return to the network I enjoy snarking about the most - Food Network.

So, I watched "The Next Food Network Star" for the first time in a few weeks. And, then I remembered why I stopped. Because it sucks. It's the poor man's "Top Chef," if the poor man is also blind and has no concept of flavor or cooking techniques. Who are the people that get chosen to be on this show? And, more importantly, who are the producers who think this show is a good idea? Let's do a quick recap of the previous three seasons. Season 1 - Gay couple (Dan and Steve!!!!!) wins, they're adorable, cook well, and have a great point of view (easy, inexpensive entertaining). They get 6 episodes and are never heard from again. Season 2 - Guy Fieri wins, acts like a DB, gets his own show, gets another show (Diners, Drive-ins, and DBs), gets to help choose the winners on all subsequent seasons of TNFNS, becomes dangerously obese and kind of greasy looking, due to excessive diner food consumption, and starts a trend among 40-something lard-asses by wearing his Oakley sunglasses on the back of his big, meaty head. Season 3 - Amy Finely wins, has a good show with actual, you know, REAL cooking, gets six episodes and is never heard from again.

Thus, onto Season 4. Apparently, since we, the viewers, didn't vote the way FN wanted us to, we've been denied the ability to determine the winner of TNFNS this time around, which, I fear, means we're probably in for another Fieri. The challenges last night did little to alleviate this fear. First, the remaining three contestants had to film promos that FN wrote for them (so, now, FN is just giving them culinary POVs?). Lisa's promo was ridiculously difficult (being strung up on wires and hoisted 40 feet in the air) and kind of sexist (doing all of this while wearing a skintight, black cat suit), Aaron did alright (after B. Flay told him to pretend he was walking down the street in Camden, NJ), and Adam was fine, although all he had to do was walk around on stage and hold hands with some showgirls, hardly anything worthy of determining his "star quality." Result - Aaron won and Lisa looked like she lacked the ability to form a complete sentence. You can see the promos and recap here.

The cooking challenge was to set up an upscale buffet for "Vegas" (yeah, I know, WTF?). They each got $1000 and 6 hours, plus a sous chef in the form of previously-voted-off contestants. Again, blatantly ripping off "Top Chef." I won't bore you with the details of the food, sufficed to say, Lisa's was fancy, Adam's was smoky, and Aaron's wasn't as good as it should have been. All in all, none of the contestants made food that was, in any way, innovative, original, or really all that interesting. Any food worthy of a TV show? Certainly not. Any food worthy of a food show on FN? Sadly, probably yes. In the end, Tuschman, Susie, and B. Flay decided to keep them all and bring them all back to NYC for the final. Not a surprise, since they ran an F-ing promo (400 times) before the show aired, showing Tusch saying, "we've never done this before."

Bottom line, in my opinion. FN wants Aaron to win, or he would have gone home. He clearly should have gone home. One good promo doesn't make up for horrible food. Although, I guess no one really needs to know how to cook delicious food to be on FN - Sandra Lee, Rachael Ray, Guy Fieri, anyone? FN just needs a host with a "personality" to instruct the viewers about basic techniques, while reading directly from a tele-prompter. Actually, I guess the winner doesn't even need to cook at all. Most of the shows on FN now involve some over-the-top moron wandering around the country, shoveling food into his/her gaping maw, while saying, "local, home-cooked food is the best." This is clearly the direction the network is taking, based on the caliber of the cooking talent currently airing everyday. Of the three people left, I think Adam is the one most likely to win, based on what FN is looking for. If it were up to actual cooking ability, I think Aaron would win. If it were up to actual knowledge about food, I think Lisa would win. As of now, I won't watch a show involving any one of them. And, I'm not going to watch the finale, I don't get to vote and the outcome has already been determined. I'll just wait for the aftermath and read about the debacle on TWoP the next morning. Besides, I HAVE to see if Jon Miller will wear the yellow shirt again.

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