My feelings about this show are mixed. Maybe yours are too.
For one thing, it's the type of "reality competition" which I like least: gifted amateurs/undiscovered professionals live together and grow to hate each other whilst competing for the kind of prize which is almost never attainable in real life: instant fame and at least some fortune, a lot of publicity and the backing of a major organization.
This, as opposed to the bearable reality competition in which established professionals compete for an honor or reward which will probably not make or break them.
(True, no one wants be to known as a loser, but the contestants who did not become "The Next Iron Chef" didn't exactly have the public flinging stones at their restaurants or setting the place alight with torches.)
The first kind of competition is cruel because there are always entrants who think that winning is going to set their lives right, and, thus, that they'll be nothing if they lose. Also, these people tend to be the kind who, through youth or inexperience, are unused to the pressures of performing in public, or are unused the the publicity machine (especially the hurtful cracks that some idiots put in their blogs).
Which brings us to Lisa Garza, one of the contestants on TNFNS. I hate her guts and do not consider it beyond the realm of possibility that she was behind several recent cholera scares and the invention of aerosol Cool Whip.
Oh, come on, Annie
I mean it! You should have seen this chick!
First of all, she wears frosted eyeshadow under way, way over-groomed eyebrows. This look is to make her eyes "pop" and, pop they never so well as Marty Feldman's ("Damn your eyes!" "Too late!"), I could not admire her for this.
Second, dig that Vulcan hairstyle. It's not actually out of fashion, by the way, and on some women (and no men) it's actually very cute. But they have to be 4-year-old Asian kids. No, Garza, no!
And there's the way she dresses. Every five minutes in a new outfit, with matching four-inch stilettos. At one point she even comments on herself, in voice-over: "I was very proud of myself because I made a nice dish while wearing a lovely dress and high heels!" Oh, shut up, woman! Lovely dress, in whose opinion? My mother had a Marimekko tablecloth that looked like that. And it wasn't her best tablecloth, either.
The Garza also kept shoving in her message that she worked for charities and non-profits, to help feed "the community". What...and the rest of us don't? Oh, okay, maybe we don't, but who asked you, anyway, you ferret?
We had actually hoped to keep personalities otu of this, but come on. This chick is going to be all over the show's coverage. She's the designated Omarosa, the contestant you love to hate. The way she reacted to being next-to-last in the ritual dressing-down after the events? Yes, she escaped being sent home by thismuch, and again, her voice-over was telling. "If I could be practically sent down...then this is serious," she confides, over a visual of herself checking her mascara with a wee frownie on her Botox'd brow. "Anything could happen." You betcha, bitch! Now get your swiveling ass to knife skills class, pronto!
In the rest of the ep--the time which was not given over to making me hate Lisa Garza--we met the rest of the contestants. Of course my heart rose in gladness when I saw Cory, a 44-year-old working woman who is both a chef and a comedian. She looked like someone you'd meet at any time around the supermarket, but she froze on camera. And so became the first one sent home.
(The youngest contestant, a 19-year-old fella, cried while explaining his philosophy of food, thereby neatly getting the "first crier" and "most sensitive guy" labels tacked on to him in record time. He also won my personal pick for Most Awkward Line of the Ep when he explained that he "puts a little piece on himself on every plate of food." Maybe you want to go back to knife skills too, guy?)
I liked all of the guys and little blonde Kelsey too, mostly because, in the face of a foodie faux pas (she didn't have enough bread to go around and so wasn't able to serve the Neelys with it; Kelsey, girl, those are a couple of people who love starches; better you should have scanted Morimoto) she made it into a lesson in preparedness. Fast thinking; that's what got me that C- in "Stats" last semester, and I admire it in others. But points dropped for saying, in a rundown of your strengths, "I'm young..." Oh yeah? Don't you say that around Gina Neely, hon. not when you're depriving her of bread. I'm just saying.
I will leave the last word on this episode to Iron Chef Morimoto, who must have been flagged down whilst buying lunch in the Chelsea Market and dragged back to the studio in order to sit in on the "casual" judging panel: "This dish is not fit for human consumption". He's saying that for your own good, which really makes it sting.
Oh. One other thing. Was Alton's contract with the Food Network based on the one Jack Carson had with Warner Brothers back in the day? That guy had to do everything: get gunned down by Joan Crawford, play comedy duets with Dennis Murphy, handle the part of "Brick" in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" and emcee the Hollywood opening of "A Star is Born"; some mornings at the studio they probably sent the poor man around with the breakfast menus. Alton, fella, it's always nice to see you, but you're popping up more frequently than butter on "The Barefoot Contessa". Take it easy, will you?