Last Night’s Shows Today: Next Food Network Star & Real Housewives Of New Jersey

NEXT FOOD NETWORK STAR (9:00PM, Food Network)Not to toot my own horn too much, but I totally knew that Penny wasn’t going to win Next Food Network Star. I was getting kind of worried I’d be proven wrong as the season rolled on and it turned out that she’s actually a really good cook. I’d been so busy disliking her on a basic level that I wasn’t noticing how poorly she did on-camera (their excuse for bouncing her). I’m guessing they realized they could only keep such a volatile character on the show for so long without losing credibility with viewers. It’s too bad, actually, because it sounds like her food was great. Had she been a little nicer, I wouldn’t have minded trying them out. Also, no big shocker about Chris being sent home. The BroChef routine doesn’t really work on Food Network, but maybe he can get a gig on Spike. With these two gone, it looks like the judges are done messing around and ready to really narrow things down to the people with actual potential.

I’ve got a few other points about the show that I’ve been thinking about all season. First off, the house they’re staying in was on another reality show–something skanky–but I can’t remember what. I think it was a VH1 show, Charm School, Flavor Of Love, maybe A Shot At Love? Anyone know? I did some Google image searching and came up with nothing.

The other thing I’ve been thinking about is how inappropriate some of the challenges on this show tend to be. Take the previous episode for instance where the contestants had to break down into teams and work a food truck. They filmed a commercial for their truck (something that doesn’t happen), then the people had to choose which truck to go to based on the commercial and stick with their choice even when their chosen trucks wound up being slow or bad or whatever. It  just seemed a little strange because it’s not like the next Food Network star will be forced into doing these things. I get that Food Network is testing their camera presence and is just plugging the return of their food truck race show (which I actually liked) but it seemed a little silly. Last night’s challenge made sense as they were preparing food for a big time chef, but they had to do it in a tiny kitchen with only the ingredients available in the house they’re living in. I appreciate the producers being creative with the challenges, but to hamstring the contestants so specifically and then berate them for screwing up doesn’t seem like the best way to test the people who will be on our TV sets every week telling us how to cook. I guess watching a bunch of people cook in a nice, well-stocked kitchen all the time might be a little boring though.

THE REAL HOUSEWIVES OF NEW JERSEY (10:00PM, Bravo)It was Christmas time in Housewivesland (Jersey) last night. Overall the episode was nice, showing everyone getting ready for Christmas, having parties and making smaller amounts of drama than expected. I don’t have a lot to say about the episode, but of course have a few things. The restaurant that they had Ashley’s birthday party at is called Mt. Fuji. I’ve been there. With people from New Jersey, no less. I got a kick out of that.

I’m still not very impressed with the Housewives producers for picking up new cast members Kathy and Melissa seemingly for the sole purpose of aiming them at Teresa and firing that gun. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think Teresa’s completely in the right here. I think her and her brother Joe are both lunatics who need to get over their egos and either make up or let it go. The Siblings Gorga don’t seem to be the brightest, most enlightened people around and watching their blank stares navigate through life is getting old. I’m still not sure what Teresa’s problem with her cousin Kathy is. That’s another simple squashing that needs to happen.

The only reason I care enough about the show to write about it is because I actually think this version of the Housewives franchise has the potentially to be something better than it is. We don’t need to get mired in awful bickering, the show could be about women and their actual relationships with one another and their families. All of this revolves around Caroline and her calming influence as well as her solid family. She’s the lynchpin as far as I’m concerned. I know it’s probably ridiculous of me to hope from a show of actual quality from Bravo, but a dude who can’t seem to stop watching this network can hope.

Oh, I nearly forgot about the big party at the end of the episode. All of the women actually went to Melissa’s house and Caroline’s daughter Lauren very astutely points out that it looked a lot like Teresa’s housewarming party (which Melissa and Joe were at). I love how Lauren has become the voice of reason when thrown into all the craziness of the Teresa/BroJoe/Melissa drama. There was a fight between Teresa and her cousin Kathy that I actually missed and then a big stink made because desperate-to-be-on-TV Kim G showed up with a woman whose husband is suing Teresa and Joe. This broad is pathetic and then acts shocked when everyone gets upset and Melissa asks the woman to leave. Stop trying to be Danielle and just go away. Also, good on Melissa and Joe for standing up for Teresa. Bad on Teresa for demanding it.

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