Rachael Ray »
“Poking Holes In America’s Domestic Goddess”
by Ben Malone
These days, it’s hard to miss Rachael Ray. Over the course of your day, you’re bound to run into her somewhere, whether it’s one of her twelve different shows on the Food Network, her daytime talkshow, her magazine, her signature line of cooking products, foodnetwork.com, Dunkin’ Donuts ads … hell, the other day when I was in the meat section of the grocery store, one of the TVs started rolling a video of her showing how to cook something, in case you somehow managed to dodge all of the afore mentioned media.
RR is America’s new flavor of the month, taking the mantle from such distinguished title holders as Rosie O’Donnell, Ellen DeGeneres, Donald Trump and Ryan Seacrest. What’s funny to me is that maybe with the exception of Ellen, you always detected an undercurrent of complete hatred for everyone who’s become the darling of the American media (and American households). I suppose it’s natural for a certain amount of backlash when we’re force-fed these people into every aspect of our daily lives. At some point, you have to say “enough is enough” and let us get on with our lives; most of these celebs have had their time to shine and then taken their rightful place on the D List.
But with Rachael Ray, since we’re talking about a brand and not just a person, you get the feeling that she won’t fizzle out from the American consciousness as quickly as some of these other celebs have. She’s following in the footsteps of Martha Stewart and the almighty Oprah: creating an empire, yet pissing people off along the way.
There are so many things about her that grate on people, it’s hard to know where to begin.
-Her “30 minute meals” schtick is complete crap. I have tried multiple recipes from her show and not one was on the table in less than an hour, and I’m not exactly a rookie in the kitchen.
How does she do it on the show? Well, she cuts corners. I watched one of her “I’m going to show you how to make food for your Super Bowl party that nobody would ever think to have at a football party because I’m not a football fan and have never attended a Super Bowl party, because if I had, I would know that all anyone wants is finger foods while standing around and socializing, but because the Food Network makes all their chefs do a Super Bowl show in late January, I’ve got to come up with something” shows. She was preparing a chicken and chorizo chili to be served over a “polenta bowl”, which basically meant that she lined the bowl with polenta and then put the chili on top of it. The only problem was that she didn’t start cooking the polenta until the show was nearly over, and you could tell when she plated the food that she hadn’t cooked the polenta enough.
That didn’t stop her from taking the obligatory bite of the meal to show just how good it was while she was wrapping up the show, but you could tell by the look on her face that it wasn’t done. After her first bite (which left most of the polenta on the spoon), and while the camera was up close on her face, she put the spoon back into the bowl, and when it came back up to her mouth, it magically had no polenta and was all chili, which she happily took two more bites with that stupid shit-eating grin she always has on her face.
-She talks to her audience like they’re a bunch of eight year olds. The show has a real Sesame Street feel to it – she calls her audience “kids”, refers to sandwiches as “sammies”. Yeah, I used to call them “sammies” too, and then I started the third grade and started talking like an adult. Plus, she acts as if she’s introducing new ingredients to you, or new tricks in the kitchen, despite those same ingredients and tricks showing up on every other show on the Food Network (by the way – did you know that cumin adds a smokey flavor to food?).
-Her stupid, kitschy phrases in the kitchen. You know them well … “EVOO” or “GB” (really? is “garbage bowl” so much to say?) or “stoups” or “yum-o” or “delish”. She’s created her own language in the kitchen, and it isn’t enough for her to dumb down America with them, she had to turn them into a money-making monster. I just about crapped my pants when I saw an EVOO brand olive oil in the grocery store. And now she has a dog food called “Nutrish”. I think most cynics would say that what she cooks on “30 Minute Meals” belongs in the dog food category anyway, so this is a natural progression. Next up? An antacid called “Regurge”.
-The ingredient balancing act. Why on earth does she pride herself on carrying everything at once? I saw one episode where she got out a cookie sheet and used it as a try to put everything on. Look, that studio kitchen is about as big as my college dorm – it’s not like she’s having to walk a long way and doesn’t want to make multiple trips. She can just as easily drop everything off at the work space from the fridge, but no, she has to carry everything at once. Just another gimmick she’s come up with on her show that she thinks is appealing, but pretty much makes her audience want to throw something.
I could go on. Her facial expressions and mannerisms are straight out of high school drama class. She laughs at her own jokes (mostly because no viewer with a reasonable sense of humor would laugh on his/her own, so she has to provide a cue to get you to laugh). She puts everything in the form of a question (“How great does that look?” “How easy is that?”). Her voice sounds like that of an emphysema patient — or a 13-year old boy going through puberty… You get the point.
And the biggest problem is that she’s always expanding her reach. Rumor has it that there will be an animated series. You know a doll can’t be far behind. What’s next? A casino in Atlantic City? A ride at Disneyland? A video game console?
Unfortunately, she’s taken the torch that Oprah passed her, and is running with it. You’d like to think that with as much hot air that comes out of her mouth, she’d eventually blow the torch out, but somehow I don’t think we’re going to be that lucky. I guess what we can hope for is that she gets too big for the Food Network and leaves for greener pastures. At least then we can get to watch shows by people that don’t annoy us, like Guy Fieri.
[Editor's note: You can find more of Ben Malone's work at B-Unit. His blog is a well written gem, packed with witty one liners and hilarious insights. Check it out!]
Other posts on Food Network Humor:---Rachael Ray’s Garbage Bowl Costs $20
---THINGS WE HATE: Hormel Compleats
---Rachael Ray Studio Audience Dress Code
---Why People Hate Guy Fieri
---Scripps Networks Acquires Food Network Humor!
- Rachael Ray