I don’t do reality.
Reality TV, that is. Count me out of any televised competition that involves voting anyone off, sending anyone home or criticizing anyone to his or her face before millions of viewers. To my mind, while contestants are willing, there’s nothing more disturbing than watching someone being humiliated. Maybe this goes back to the days when I was always picked dead last for teams.
Since the inception of Survivor and American Idol, I’ve proudly shunned these competitions and rolled my eyes at my friends who get all wrapped up in discussing who’s faring how each week, using contestants’ first names as if they were their buddies.
I find it disgusting to hear people talking about “Scotty” and “Taylor” and “Adam” as if we knew them personally, getting into the dynamics of the competitions and the personal attributes that are going to make or break their success.
There but for the grace of God go I.
I am hooked on The Next Food Network Star. Or I guess it’s just called Food Network Star this season. I wouldn’t know; I never watched the previous six seasons. In Season 7, I haven’t missed a single episode, as contestants are called to create signature dishes, work around situational constraints, endure criticism by celebrity chefs and demonstrate their on-camera presentation skills, for the chance to have their own Food Network show.
As it often works with addiction, I was lured into my first taste by a peer. In the late Spring, a friend from church was generating buzz and support for a fellow church member who had auditioned to become one of 15 finalists. Ever loyal to my churchies, I faithfully went online every day and voted for Mary Beth Albright, whom I had met a few times. She’s a dear.
Mary Beth indeed became one of 15 finalists so, when the season debuted June 5th, I was there—in front of the television. My husband and son jumped on the chuckwagon.
Soon our family conversations, even during the week, centered around the fact that Penny was a good cook but wasn’t likeable, that Alicia’s constant crying was going to hurt her chances, that Mary Beth was going to have to punch up her dishes if she’s to survive. When Paula Deen praised Mary Beth for putting buttermilk and panko in her meatloaf, I immediately altered my own meatloaf recipe. We bristle when the judges speak to our girl harshly, even though we know she can take it.
Every Sunday night, at the end of each program hour, our house is filled with gasps and exclamations, shrieks and high fives, as Mary Beth escapes—often narrowly—the judges’ cleaver.
I recognize that my addictive behavior is hurting my relationships. We’ve left family parties early to make it home in time (we’re a DVR-less household) and already, I’m fretting over how to broach this with friends who are hosting us at their beach house Sunday night. Would it be impolite to request an hour in front of their television? Or is it better to leave a day early to make it home in time for the final four?
Seriously, I’ve got the shakes.