The Worst Cooks In America


So I've been watching The Worst Cooks In America for two weeks now, and I can officially say that the reality show format is murdering a whole bunch of perfectly good ideas at the Food Network. Seriously. It's following them down a dark alley and bludgeoning them to death with a crowbar.

The idea behind WC is a solid one. Find twelve awful cooks and teach them to cook better, eliminating the ones who can't learn until you have two remaining (one from each team of six). Then, like some kind of Porkmalion, the two formerly bad chefs try to pass their food off as their teacher's food to a panel of three food critics, including the omnipresent woman-hater Jeffrey Steingarten.

If only it weren't shot like every other goddamned reality show out there. Chopped has a similar problem, which was going to be a whole separate post until I watched the second episode of Worst Cooks and realized it's the same thing - a serious fucking lack of perspective on the part of the producers and contestants.

Let's take a short diversion to look at Chopped. Four cooks show up. They're given a box full of ingredients and a time limit. They cook a dish. Worst dish leaves. Repeat until only one person is left standing. That person gets ten grand. You know what that is? That's a game show. It's a game show for people with a specific skill set, yes, but so is Jeopardy. Chopped is basically The Gong Show, only without 95% of the cocaine. And if the people involved treated it like a game show, it would be one of the best game shows ever. But they don't.

Everyone there has pride. They all brought their fucking A game. They're all there to win. They want to make their kids proud. They need the money to cure their amnesiac evil twin sister's eye tumor. And they're always crying. For fuck's sake! If Wheel of Fortune cut away to an interview room before each spin, where the contestant told us how much they hoped they'd spin well, and how important it was to them that their faaaaaaaaaamily (sniff) saw them spin well and made them proud? It'd be a two hour show. Just spin the damn wheel already.

And so it is with Worst Cooks. Show me the bad cooking! Show me the Texas lunkhead who, after four days of culinary boot camp, still forgets to peel onions and garlic. That shit is comedy gold. Don't tease me with chefs confusing "chai" and "chives" if one of them doesn't actually dust the dish with instant tea powder. And do not spend one more  second interviewing the simpering big gay dude who wants to show off his cooking skills to his hubby in their new house. Same marriage or opposite marriage, legally recognized or otherwise, that cutesy newlywed crap drives me up the wall.

There's nobody really to root for, except maybe Eddie Chang, who apparently understands that learning to cook means shutting your yap, paying attention, and taking in the information being provided to you. Everyone else has the usual array of drama and self-esteem issues that you'd find on the Rock Of Love Bus, although thankfully without most of the accompanying substance abuse and social disease. 

The chef-hosts are good. The challenges are well designed. The concept of the show is decent. If the whole thing weren't mired in reality show bullshit, it'd be awesome. BUt as it is, the best thing it has going for it is that they never cut back to the shared living space, ever. And the second best thing is that, eliminating two people each week, the thing will be mercifully short.

But seriously, Food Network. More Gong Show, less For The Love Of Ray J.



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You forgot the worst part of

You forgot the worst part of reality shows like that: the constant previews and recaps. I swear those shows would be 5 minutes long if they'd just cut out the bullshit clips of what you're going to see in 5 minutes. Then of course there's the "And the person going home is....." followed by a commercial break.


This is why I couldn't live without my DVR. I don't watch any reality show live. But yeah, fake dramatic pacing is awful, especially on Chopped, where they have three eliminations, and every damn one comes right after a commercial.

Great post, very insightful.

Great post, very insightful. I really enjoyed Top Chef until I found that I was seeing less and less of the food and more of the drama. If I'm going to watch a show about cooking, especially any kind of cooking competition, it has to focus on the cooking, and not on how the contestants FEEL about their cooking.

With a name like "The Worst

With a name like "The Worst Cooks in America", I was expecting Sandra Lee to be a part of the show. I call deceptive advertising on Food Network's part.

Really, Food Network?

Fucking VELMA?

Oh, I'm sorry. Velma wasn't nearly that irritating.


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