14 Jan

Interesting Cure for Depression

During December I was suffering from yet another depressive episode.  What better way to treat depression than to self-medicate?  My drug of choice for December was to watch the television.  TV has an amazing ability to put one into a fugue like state, thus allowing a slight decrease in anxiety.

Much of the tv I watched was on a channel called the Food Network–two drugs in one, food and tv!  Two shows I became addicted to were, Barefoot Contessa with Ina Garten (all my friends are gay–in my my best Edina Monsoon voice) and Chopped.  Chopped is strangely annoying and compelling.  The often blatant misogyny of the usually all male judges causes me to scream at the tv, as does the absolutely bizarre concept of the show.  Contestants receive a mystery basket of “foods” that they have to prepare to  satisfy the judges (chefs) in a limited time frame.

Here is where it gets really bizarre.  An example of the mystery basket of ingredients would be: Ketchup, Cat Urine, and Yellow Marshmallow Peeps.  After 20 minutes alloted time to “transform” these ingredients into a culinary triumph the judges give feedback and then eliminate a contestant before the next round.

Judges feedback: this is where I have to laugh and what compels me to keep watching (probably diagnostic on my part).  Exceedingly arrogant Chef Geoffrey Zakarian (the one with just a bit too much eye mascara) will usually give feedback along the lines of: “While you really made the Ketchup and Marshmallow Peeps come alive in this lovely red/yellow coulis, I’m not sure I’m getting the Cat Urine.”  Then the equally arrogant and misogynistic Chef Scott Conant will counter with his feedback: “I’m getting too much Cat Urine in my dish–that is just not acceptable. And the Ketchup/Peeps coulis just doesn’t work for me.”  The third judge, Chef Alex Guarnaschelli (one of the only female judges) will offer: “I feel like you really tried with this dish.”

While I continue not to be a fan of reality tv, I am compelled to continue to watch Chopped, despite the misogyny  and awful display of white hetero privilege from most of the judges.  The bizarre mystery baskets combined with the laughable and inconsistent feedback serve up a dish that helps to put my depression at bay.

11 Responses to “Chopped”

  1. January 15, 2012 at 6:43 pm #

    Feel better, Michael! There’s plenty of white, non-hetero input on the show, and even a little Latin, Indian, and Ethiopian thought, as well–plus, Geoffrey is Armenian. Thanks for watching! Xo

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt January 15, 2012 at 10:12 pm #

      What a lovely response/comment! I’m honored and relieved to know there is plenty of non-hetero, Latin, Indian and Ethiopian input on the show. You already know I’m compelled to watch.
      Your fan,

    • Max January 16, 2012 at 3:01 am #

      and I bet some of their best friends are black too. Geoffrey and Conant are still sexist misogynists. I found this blog because I was peeved by Conant’s sexist and condescending comments. It’s far from the only site I found that points out this behavior.

  2. Jay January 16, 2012 at 1:19 pm #

    Sorry about the depression, Michael, but amused by this response to it.

    I too have, on occasion, succumbed to the siren song of the TV, including The Food Network. Ina Garten makes quality envy television–the lushly photographed and richly prepared dishes amount to food porn. At the risk of sexism, I’d compare Ina’s food porn to Giada’s food porn–the difference being that Ina’s gorgeous home is her food’s costar, whereas Giada’s gorgeous decolletage is her food’s costar.

    All the competitive shows on Food Network suffer from selection bias–the dishes are rarely or never judged blind. I assume it stems from the success of the first of those shows, Iron Chef, where the reaction of the contestants to the evaluation of the judges is an important part of the entertainment value. Watching the contestants squirm to explain their misfires is great fun for the sadists in the audience (while the nice viewers can enjoy the praise heaped upon the successful contestants).

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt January 16, 2012 at 1:29 pm #

      “Food Porn,” I love it! Great analogy of Ina and Giada. Of course, Ina always wins my heart–maybe because I’m gay. I confess, I may be far too sensitive and thus have difficulty when the contestants must explain “their misfires.” Yes, I know. Big surprise that I might be overly sensitive. I must admit I was honored that Ted Allen chimed in here and am tempted to contact him to be included in my Celebrities for Social Justice Series.

      • Jay January 16, 2012 at 4:27 pm #

        I had overlooked that the first comment was from the estimable Mr. Allen–congratulations! I was pleased by Ted’s successful transition from “Gay Eye for the Straight Guy” to Food Network–he genuinely knows his topic, and communicates his knowledge with wry charm.

        I’d suggest inquiring as to his availability for an interview sooner rather than later, while your blog is fresh in his mind, but perhaps a more coy and measured waiting period would be preferable. Isn’t it interesting how those junior high “I wonder if he/she likes me???” dynamics and worries carry over into a range of adult interactions?

      • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt January 16, 2012 at 6:02 pm #

        Yes, I do hope he will grant me an interview. Yes, I fear I have never surrendered my junior high insecurities–perhaps why I loved teaching middle school students.

  3. james April 2, 2013 at 7:30 pm #

    I dont know what show your watching because ive seen the ditzy female “risk taker” who ” struggles against oppression” completely screw up the main ingredient of each dish and still win over her male competition, because he didnt take enough risks even though he cooked everything perfectly. I just looked this up after throwing my remote across the room after another good chef was robbed because he was a man! Ps. I think its funny that these feminist chefs will say women are underestimated in the kitchen, and in the same breath say all men want women chained to the stove lol what a joke!

    • Niki July 16, 2013 at 4:07 pm #

      I also found this post because I have been really bothered by the misogyny on Chopped. Geoffrey Z. is so incredibly rude to women that I am no longer watching, and it was one of my favorite shows for awhile.

      • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt July 18, 2013 at 9:02 am #

        Niki, yes, I find Geoffrey and Scott both pretty misogynistic. Sadly, our Alex seems to be demonstrating a lot lateral oppression.

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