Read previous Eats & Entertainment columns


January 30, 2008

Food Network Is For Me: All Other Reality TV Can Bite Me!


By Cindy Droog

Here’s the thing with reality television: I’ve tried it, but I just can’t relate.


This week marks new episodes of nearly all the reality series that I’ve attempted to watch. First, there’s “Celebrity Rehab”, VH1’s foray into the favorite place of all the hot stars – rehabilitation. Of course, as with all of VH1’s attempts at these shows, the term “celebrity” is clearly a loose one. I mean, when was the last time you thought about Kenickie from “Grease”?


Their definition of famous aside, it’s not that I haven’t lived through the painful process of watching a loved one beat addiction. I have. But the fact that someone would allow cameras during such a personal experience has me baffled. When my family went through this, I don’t even think I told my best friend.


Then, there’s “The Academy”, in which recruits go through training to become Los Angeles County sheriffs. I thought I’d enjoy the show, but instead, it gives me a guilt complex that all I had to do to get my job was one phone interview and two face-to-facers. And I didn’t get yelled at, sworn at or physically exhausted during any one of them.


“The Biggest Loser” is always a “flipper,” meaning when I bypass it, I tend to stop for a few minutes. But I always keep going. Maybe it’s because any one of those contestants could actually consume me, at 110 pounds, as a meal. So I feel guilty watching them struggle to shed what equates to an entire limb for me on a weekly basis.


I tried “Miami INK”, too. My brother has 15 tattoos. I, on the other hand, have zero. I thought watching the show might bring us a little closer, helping me understand the strong emotional ties some people have to events and symbols – strong enough to emblazon them on their bodies while they scream in pain. Instead, both times I watched, I got depressed thinking of a couple my husband and I were friends with for many years. For their 10th anniversary, they got matching tattoos. For their 13th anniversary, they got a divorce.


Of course, there are always the competitions like “American Idol” and “Project Runway” to rely on for mild entertainment. But my own singing has been known to bring dorm-mates knocking, begging me to stop. And my fashion sense has actually been described by a friend of mine as “black hides everything, so she guesses she shouldn’t stray.”


On Sunday night, I watched “Extreme Home Makeover”. It almost had me. I was close to developing my own un-Kenickie like addiction. But ABC’s airing a commercial every 2.5 minutes completely killed the mood. I begrudgingly flipped back to election coverage.


To me, the only truly juicy reality television is on the Food Network. Now, here’s something I can relate to. Eating. In fact, I do it every single day. Sometimes fast and furious. Think: “Oh crap, I forgot my lunch on deadline day.” Other times, it’s slow and romantic.  “What? Both kids went to bed at 7:00? Let’s start things in the kitchen, baby!” Sometimes it’s at home. Sometimes it’s on the road. And so it is on this network.


So, I TiVo episodes of “Diners”, “Drive-ins and Dives” and faithfully watch “$40 a Day”. I wouldn’t travel to a new city without first checking the Food Network’s web site to see if these hosts have been there first and can help me pinch my pocketbook and tantalize my taste buds.


My favorite is “Unwrapped”, which gives me the story behind the things I feed my diaper-clad kids every day, like peanut butter or cereal. It’s good to know where these things come from, especially because I get to see firsthand where they end up.


I eat three times a day. I don’t enter rehab, deal with police officers, put art on my shoulder blade instead of my wall or allow millions of people to watch me shop for new throw pillows, sing or get dressed. I do realize, however, that if I get too into The Food Network, I definitely won’t be watching “The Biggest Loser”. I’ll be starring in it.


© 2008 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


Click here to talk to our writers and editors about this column and others in our discussion forum.


To e-mail feedback about this column, click here. If you enjoy this writer's work, please contact your local newspapers editors and ask them to carry it.


This is Column # EE005. Request permission to publish here.

Op-Ed Writers
Eric Baerren
Lucia de Vernai
Herman Cain
Dan Calabrese
Alan Hurwitz
Paul Ibrahim
David Karki
Llewellyn King
Gregory D. Lee
David B. Livingstone
Nathaniel Shockey
Stephen Silver
Candace Talmadge
Jamie Weinstein
Feature Writers
Mike Ball
Bob Batz
David J. Pollay
Eats & Entertainment
The Laughing Chef