Now that The Next Food Network Star Finale is almost two weeks old, you'd think that people have, largely speaking, forgotten about the network's ridiculous decision to bounce the top two candidates in favor of the "winner," Aaron McCargo Jr.
If that's what you'd think, then you'd be wrong.
People are still tweaked over this fiasco, and the shit keeps hitting the fan. The noise has been brung in the comments of a variety of blogs, including SideDish and several others. The problem, as per usual, is that race is, apparently, a factor. For me, I think Aaron was the least qualified of the three finalists, but there are plenty of people -- on both sides of the fence -- who claim race either is directly responsible for the network's choice or that it has nothing to do with it, which means it has everything to do with it. Put another way, people who claim that race is a major factor why Aaron won are being taken to task for being racist by people who think that race has nothing whatsoever to do with Aaron having been chosen.
Me -- I think it's partially responsible. Despite "racial profiling" being a no-no on clipboards belonging to state troopers, marketing departments regularly go after ethnic markets, whether they are latino, african-american or even eastern european. Judging by the direction the Food Network has been going, it wouldn't shock me if Aaron was chosen in part to cull African-American viewers. And frankly, anyone who doesn't admit to seeing this trend in part is either blind or willfully ignoring the obvious.
But I digress.
The newest news -- at least newest to me, anyway -- is that after the furious uproar over Aaron's "victory," it was leaked that Adam apparently will be getting his own show on the network after all. Apparently his show will be called "Will Work for Food" and he'll be put in all sorts of food industry-related positions, in theory playing off his quasi-pathetic admission during The Next Food Network Star competition that since he and his brother lost their restaurant, the shot at Food Network stardom was basically it for him.
Of course, while this upcoming show -- about which I was advised by my other half, Kaia -- is a step in the right direction (ie righting the monumental screw-up perpetrated by NFNS two Sundays ago) -- what bothers me is this show looks, sounds and smells a lot like another Food Network show called Glutton for Punishment with Bob Blumer. What really is interesting, of course, is that link brings you to a page showing Bobby B. prepping an Adam Gertler specialty: beer can chicken.
While we're on the topic of the Food Network cannibalizing itself, I've concurred with a number of observations suggesting their new show "Ask Aida" seems very similar to the concept Adam offered up in his NFNS demo. The former is a show asking people to send mail, e-mail, text messages or faxes to "Aida" asking for help cooking a recipe or perfecting a technique, whereas Adam's concept was to have a viewer connected via webcam to Adam in his kitchen during his broadcasts. To me, the concepts are pretty much mirror images of one another. The chicken, the egg...doesn't really matter which came first, it just seems like Adam authored the idea and the Food Network -- clearly coming up short in the creativity department -- jumped on it.
Speaking of Food Network cannibalism, I've heard from a number of people both herein and elsewhere that Ted Allen (formerly of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and current Iron Chef America Judge Emeritus) starring in a new show called Food Detectives on, you guessed it, the Food Network, is a thorough rip-off of Alton Brown's Good Eats.
Let me just put this out there: whether or not you like cooking and care about what you're putting in your body, if you don't enjoy watching Good Eats then there's something wrong with you. Mr. Brown combines funny, facts and cooking -- in an unabashed, self-deprecating, geek hipster dufus style -- in a tight, always-entertaining 30-minute package. Not only is his show one of the best on the Food Network, it's by far one of the best shows on TV.
So why would the Food Network tamper with it by copying it with "Food Detectives" or anything else?
Well, the concept is that if something works, you go with it; therefore, rather than try and come up with something new -- clearly something which the Food Network has consistently failed in their attempts thereat -- but they figure that Ted Allen, who is very knowledgeable about food and also very personable, might be a good second to Alton Brown, who has been stretched thin with his appearances on other shows and Food Network-related appearances on and off TV.
The problem is, by doing this -- basically ripping off shows (whether said shows being ripped off are successful or not) is a shitty way to run a network. Granted, it's worked for Law and Order and CSI -- those franchises are running so frequently on so many different networks it's hard to keep track of which ones are current and which ones are repeats. However, I'm not alone in believing the rip-offs are a sign that the creative minds at the Food Network are in decline -- if they are still employed at the Network at all -- and by copying their own shows with different names and sets, it's a bit insulting to the viewer. No offense to Ted Allen -- but Alton Brown is one of the greatest people on television these days. Why would anyone want to watch a show that seemingly rips off his show?
The answer is: no one wants to watch that show.
It amazes me that the powers that be at the Food Network seem to be the only ones who simply and absolutely fail to get it.
They fucked up The Next Food Network Star -- on several levels (not just in choosing the least-qualified candidate but by -- oopsy -- announcing the winner online three DAYS before the finale aired);
They are copying their own shows with little or no creative tweaking, resulting in carbon-copies which split, confuse and/or irritate viewers rather than bringing in more;
And finally, they are dismissing and/or losing quality people: Mario Batali is following Emeril out the door (and of course, their ability to alienate a food-related superstar in Anthony Bourdain is amazing in its stupidity). I have nothing against Bobby Flay; he seems like a decent guy. It's just that of the 12 or so people on the network, Bobby Flay is one of the few people who is actually cooking -- and teaching viewers how to do so -- on his shows.
Um...speaking of which, Bobby Flay comprises more than half the network's broadcast (this past Saturday night, Bobby Flay shows were broadcast from 8PM to 4AM). WTF?
What really bothers me is that I'm not some sort of investigative genius, uncorking some conspiracy like Woodward and Bernstein. A huge number of people are seeing the same inconsistencies I'm seeing, and they're asking the same questions.
What's worse? Knowing that all these significant mistakes are pervasive and obvious, or knowing that as they build exponentially, the network could, in theory, disappear?
There's one question whose answer still evades me.