Yes, I am watching this show. No, it is not good. It’s so not good, in fact, that it’s kind of great. It’s like a post-bankruptcy Nicolas Cage movie– reeking of make-a-buck desperation and gleeful disregard for the taste level or intelligence of the audience. (Anyone who has seen Ghost Rider knows exactly what I’m talking about.*) The producer manipulation is beyond blatant, with the eliminations having essentially nothing to do with performance in the challenges and, with a couple of exceptions, there is no pretense that any of the contestants on this cooking show know anything about food. (For example, in a salad-making challenge, the instructions explicitly included “You must make your own dressing.” One of the contestants, who may have never been to a restaurant for people who actually eat, panicked because she didn’t know if the judges preferred their dressing on the side.)
These all sound like criticisms, and they are, but the truth is that after spending so much time getting frustrated with “good” reality shows that succumb to false drama and manipulation, it’s kind of refreshing to just hop on the treadmill and spend an hour watching borderline-celebrities** pretend to care about their charities while angling for their own Food Network shows. You can’t even feel bad for the hosts, since it’s not like Rachel Ray or Guy Fieri had any culinary cred to begin with.
I’m not bothering to recap the episode, because really, why? (If you’re interested, the eliminated contestant was the current Miss USA, who claims to “love desserts” despite looking like she is composed of pipe cleaners and low-fat tape.) Instead, I would just like to make a few observations, like Lou Diamond Phillips is apparently living in an alternate dimension where he is a major movie star (while acknowledging that no one recognizes him from any film made in the last twenty years). Or that Coolio still wears his signature spiky dreads, but now only so that they stick out through his hat, leading me to suspect that the hair might have more attachment to the hats than his actual scalp, if you know what I mean.
Can I recommend it? Well, no, not in good conscience to most people. So I’ll just point out that free episodes are available for streaming here, and let you do with that information what you will.
*Can you believe they’re making a sequel? I’m so excited.
**Defined by Cameron as “People who are more famous than I am.”