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Monday, September 1

Questioning Gordon Elliott's Motives -- Why I'm Not Happy With Big Daddy's House

Note: I started this post after watching the 2nd episode of Big Daddy's House. While I think the show has improved a bit, I still have problems with it. Just as a warning, this post examines race and stereotypes on Food Network. If you're looking for more lighthearted reading, please skip down. I like to keep it light most of the time, but I do occasionally find something important enough to get serious about.

The first five episodes of Big Daddy's House have aired and I can't honestly say I'm happy with how they turned out. It wasn't Aaron's kissing of the raw steak that turned me off (although that was gross) or the fact that his TV kitchen looks virtually identical to that of the Neelys'. In fact, I don't even fault Aaron McCargo Jr. for the show's problems.

My real problem is with Gordon Elliott.
Let me explain...


For those who don't know, Gordon Elliott produces some of the most successful programs on Food Network: Paula's Home Cooking, Paula's Party, and Down Home with the Neelys, as well as the recently premiered Big Daddy's House, featuring season 4 winner of The Next Food Network Star, Aaron McCargo Jr.

The hosts of these shows: Paula Deen, an agoraphobic restaurateur from Savannah, Ga. turned TV chef; Pat and Gina Neely, owners of a successful barbecue joint in Memphis; and Aaron McCargo Jr., a hospital catering chef from Camden, N.J. are southern, African American southerners, and African American, respectively. Most of you probably know that, but I threw it in for the sake of clarification... and for the sake of focusing on it, as these groups of people have long histories of being stereotyped.

Also focus on the fact that Gordon Elliott, a man born in Liverpool and raised in Australia, is at the helm of these shows. Liverpool and Australia are just about as far removed from America's Southern and African American cultures as you can get.

Gordon found major success on Food Network with Paula Deen. I've bit my tongue as I watched ole' Paula transform from a sweet, knowledgeable Southern cook into a cackling, sex joke-spewing, verging-on-obnoxious caricature of her former self (most evident in the nightime Paula's Party series). I've refrained from commenting overtly on Gina Neely's "you know how I like it Daddy!" sexually laced humor that many find at best somewhat uncomfortable, and at worst completely off putting and distracting.

When you watch Aaron's show pilot (shown in the last episode of Star) and compare it to this finished product, the difference is striking... and not in a good way. The warm, kinda shy, kinda uncertain guy that we saw on Star has become nearly unrecognizable.

Aaron has been reduced to a "Big Daddy" repeating, "bad boy" referring stereotype of his former self, all done in an apparent attempt to appear like a larger-than-life host. His dishes have, thus far, been rather unremarkable -- often featuring some large cut of red meat and a fat-drenched side dish or two.

He's no longer just Aaron from Camden, but Big Daddy -- a nickname he supposedly picked up on the show, although I don't remember anyone calling him that. Big Daddy, which Aaron repeatedly refers to himself as, shouts "Look at yo bad self!" and refers to nearly every ingredient, pan, or condiment as a "bad boy." Besides being obnoxious in a cooking show, these phrases all have strong racial connections that many would find disparaging.

It's no real surprise that Food Network would go this route, though. The most successful winner of Star, Guy Fieri, is just as over the top in his own way. It makes sense that they'd try to recreate that persona, although it's sickening that being yourself just isn't good enough that often. It's also sad, because I found Aaron's personality on Star to be enjoyable, most of the time.

Looking to capitalize upon Paula Deen's success, Gordon premiered Down Home with the Neelys. From the very first episode, Pat and Gina Neely were basically bouncing off the walls with catchphrases and Southern twang. No easing into anything on that show. The show was met with high ratings, but at what cost to the countless viewers in the South who decry this type of characterization for the network's first show hosted by an African American couple, especially considering Food Network was nearly 100% white for so long. "Why this particular portrayal?" they argued.

Despite representing some of the network's best talent, it's my opinion that Gordon cheapens the hosts by painting them as outlandish, stereotypical characters and not real, multi-faceted people.

Yes, there is the off chance that Paula, Gina Neely, and Aaron McCargo's new "TV selves" are identical to their true personalities and that a little time and coaching was all that was needed to bring them out fully on TV... but I highly doubt that. Aaron's show was being filmed before anyone even knew who he was or that he even won the contest. I can't help but assume that any would-be Food Network host would be vulnerable to complying with whatever "personality tweaks" the producer requested, especially if said producer had several successful shows under his belt.

While there are surely other southern and/or black hosts waiting in the wings, the fact that they'll be measured against Gordon Elliott's shows is scary. Where are they to turn if Gordon tells them they're not ______ enough?

And then I remember the way Paula used to be:



After watching Paula like that, I feel bad that someone (maybe even herself) told her along the way that that wasn't enough -- she wasn't loud enough or memorable enough or "Southern" enough and she'd need to push it even more.

The Paula of today -- the y'all yelling, nasty granny from the South who always knows a good sexual innuendo -- is barely recognizable in that video from her early years. She doesn't even use butter! Butter being the metaphorical gold in Paula Deen's success story.

Even Paula's excessive and unremorseful use of butter hearkens a stereotype: that of the "dumb Southerner" who's just too stupid to know using that much butter could kill you. Yes, Ina does it too, but definitely not in the same, clowny, "watch me drink this melted butter just for fun" way that Paula does. Ina's use of 5 sticks of butter is presented like a smart caterer who wants the food to be so incredibly decadent, knowing it's being served at a special function--not at your morning breakfast table day after day.

Perhaps I am overreacting. Perhaps it's just a coincidence that Gordon Elliott's Food Network shows all feature hosts I find to be unrealistic stereotypes that capitalize upon questionable behaviors and over-the-top antics. Perhaps it's wrong to assume that anyone wouldn't alter his own personality for a TV show if the promise of fame and fortune were involved.

Judging from most of the comments this blog has received about Aaron (and Paula and the Neelys), I just don't think this is an overreaction. I think people accept it because it's "just a cooking show." They're really not, though. People are making a LOT of money off of "just cooking shows" and they deserve a little more thought when it comes to determining what is and isn't ethical.

I can't help but wonder what Aaron's show would look like under a different producer's control. Maybe I wouldn't even need to write this.

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148 Comments:

At 9/01/2008 6:54 PM , Anonymous Coopama said...

That is so true.

 
At 9/01/2008 7:05 PM , Anonymous Lindsey said...

I couldn't agree with you more. I love Paula Deen, and always will, but have to agree with you on her recent dramatic changes. Gina and Pat Neeley have changed as well. I remember seeing them for the first time on Paula's show, and they were in NO WAY as outlandish as they are today. As for Aaron, the food he cooked on Star (and his personality) was VERY different from the foods he has cook so far on Big Daddy. I used to like watching him in that show, but cannot watch even 5 minutes of his show without being disgusted and annoyed! He's been morphed just as the others have. It's very sad that these once great personalities have been changed into people that Gordon Elliot think are enjoyable to watch.

Food Network needs to step in and do something before these personalities are canceled because their ratings go down the tube.

Great post Jacob!!

 
At 9/01/2008 7:12 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bravo!

 
At 9/01/2008 7:13 PM , Blogger Alejandro said...

Jacob,
I commend you for a well-written, passionate, and accurate (IMHO) assessment of what appears to be taking place on these shows. I hope that your comments and those of other bloggers who have made similar comments will get to the ears of those who can make some changes for the better on FN.

 
At 9/01/2008 7:17 PM , Blogger Jennifer of Dog.Yarn.Knit. said...

You have certainly given me pause.
And I miss the old Paula that was more like my Southern mother and grandmother than some of my raunchy great aunts who I saw maybe once or twice every two to three years.

 
At 9/01/2008 7:20 PM , Blogger ibcheft said...

Well said, I often wonder if that is the reason most of the Chef's left the network for other shows om other networks ? Maybe Gordon needs to get back to TV from what I have read and leave Sandy to herself, get his judgment back on the ground.

 
At 9/01/2008 7:25 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for a well-written and thoughtful post. You said it perfectly! As a producer, Gordon Elliot is a freakin hack who caters to the lowest common denominator and calls it "brilliant". His FORMULA is so predictable!

 
At 9/01/2008 7:32 PM , Anonymous jackiecat said...

Light bulb! I not big on conspiracy theories but do you suppose the reason the FN was so set on Aaron wining was because Gordon Elliott had already sold them on his idea for the show?

 
At 9/01/2008 7:36 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

You still have not gotten over Adam & Lisa losing. You are such a loser. Do body response to you blogs unless you are putting down Aaron. People you look and think like you. What a waste. "Bid Daddy House" is doing well in the ratings at his time.

His show is good and he cooks a varity of food. We will be successful.

I hope he stays around a long time. That would make you have many bad days.

 
At 9/01/2008 7:39 PM , Anonymous atara said...

Good post because sometimes, less is more.

 
At 9/01/2008 7:40 PM , Anonymous atara said...

Good post because sometimes, less is more.

 
At 9/01/2008 7:43 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey anon 7:36 I actually was rooting for Aaron to win. But FN screwed him over by giving him a win that was so obviously a fix. Aaron was denied an honest win and now he's being denied a decent show. They've set the poor guy up to fail. I would love to see him break free of Gordon Elliot and do a decent show and succeed.

 
At 9/01/2008 8:03 PM , Blogger Brian Flaherty said...

Very true...I cannot bear to watch Paula Deen anymore because of how absurd she is. The same goes with the Neely's and Aaron. I've seen Aaron's ad and he looks like a fool.

Speaking of which, Guy F. likes like a fool for this new show he's doing...is Gordon involved with that too?

 
At 9/01/2008 8:12 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a really good post. I think it is sad the way Paula has changed. I agree with the Neelys and Aaron being turned into characters. It makes me sad. When you think about old cinema it was the same thing. I wish they would read this post and demand they be respected. And if this is their personality, then fine, but let us see other personalities and other black people, on other shows too.

 
At 9/01/2008 8:37 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting perspective, yet the author is not the only person whom can see through or understand the quite visible, and somewhat odd marketing strategy of Follow Productions / Gordon Elliot. And there's no reason to question Gordon Elliot's motives, as his motives can be summed up into a ONE word. Starts with an "M", ends with a "y".

The most important viewers are those whom watch the advertisements during the shows and are influenced enough to purchase those products and services. The facts that Aaron has been unfairly stereotyped, from his shows music, to his slang words, and that Paula has been turned into a revolting disgraceful perverted letch, doesn't matter if the show sells the products in the ads. And to do that, you have to keep the viewer watching.

People generally feel more comfortable watching educational and news programs when presented by someone whom is like them. That is why when you watch any local news program in each and every town in the US, 90% of the time the newscasters will visually represent the demographics of the viewers. Such as, in any larger city, one of the news casters will be white, another AA, one Hispanic, etc. A lot of the time the African American looking person will have a hispanic name, that way people can't quite tell. News producers call them "Two for the money", because you target two audience shares with one person.... Sad, but very true. I know this as my brother worked for FOX news for 7 years.

Many people have commented that Aaron was pre-chosen to win due to a marketing area that Scripps is filling. Well, that's just business my friend. Gordon Elliot produced an Emmy Award winner. (Paula Deen). When somone is winning an Emmy, someone is making a lot of money and that's all anything boils down to.

I am glad that Aaron got his own show. I agree that some of his antics do make me wince, utter 'ouch' under my breath and at times actually feel bad for him. During the 7th episode of Next Food Network Star, Gordon even told Aaron what the name of his show would be. So no, Big Daddy's House is NOT produced by Aaron. It's a product of Mr. Elliot and Aaron is doing what Gordon tells him to do.

So, good thought provoking article, but fans of the show with the deeper thought processes about these shows (or perhaps boredom and/or too much time on their hands .. hehe) really don't matter much. And it is most certainly interesting to imagine how different and better Aaron's show could have been, with a producer that is in touch with reality based on real life, rather than a master of stereotypical (to an offensive level) portrayals of southerners and African Americans. But the sad fact is, if it sells the products in the ads, there's not much reason to change it.

Here's what I predict will happen in the next 5 years. Due to the recent, massive success of Next Food Network Star, other networks are looking to jump on the food show cash cow bandwagon. This will cause a demand for more producers of like shows, and more competetion does tend to produce a better product. And eventually a producer or production company will fill certain marketing areas with good quality shows that don't make the actors look like self insulting idiots. And the wise consumer will flock to it.

There's one thing this author can rest well in knowing. At least one of Elliot's current shows (comes on at night and has a 'festive' name) has doomed itself out of future viability for 'syndicated' reruns, by being so politically in-correct that it will eventually be impossible to continue airing. So, if you're wanting to see Gordon screw up, he's already begun, and is doing quite well at it. And that's good to see, as the faster he goes in the current direction that his productions are headed, the faster we are going to see something better, more down to earth, intelligent, authentic and enjoyable.

And if anyone was wondering why Gordon Elliot's voice on Next Food Network Star seemed so familiar? He used to be the voice of Campbells Soup... Remember now?

 
At 9/01/2008 8:43 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amen about Paula Deen! She used to be the grandmotherly persona that I loved to watch cook. Now I just wonder where her mouth has been. She's just....creepy. Ew.

 
At 9/01/2008 8:49 PM , Anonymous Alec Smart said...

You are right. Gordon Elliot is a ponce.Time to fire the coach, because he is gonna ruin McCargo and the Neely's.

Ever since Gordo's early days in FN with classics like DoorKnock Dinners, he has turned out shitty show are shitty show.

He probably is allowed to do stuff like this for FN because he works on the cheap and FN are notorious cheap pricks.

Gordon Elliot. Another buffoonish member of the Scripps family. Aaron McCargo Jr. Gordon Elliot's bum boy.

btw, good post. Wait and see how many mainstream journalists draw "inspiration" from it.

 
At 9/01/2008 9:09 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yep Jacob. Great post and true. Shame on Foodnetwork for letting this get this far!!!!

 
At 9/01/2008 9:14 PM , Blogger Becca said...

Couldn't agree more, Jacob. I loved the old Paula. Now I can't even watch her. Aaron was my favorite throughout NFNS and I can't watch his show either. I guess somebody must be watching the dreck that Elliott is producing, but I don't know who it is.

 
At 9/01/2008 9:38 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

couldn't agree more.

 
At 9/01/2008 9:43 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I could not agree more with your comments! Caricatures of whom these chefs really are have been created, almost in an attempt to water down the content. Is this a subliminal statement on the intelligence of Americans? If you want real cooking, with real chefs who present in an intelligent manner and do not fall prey to streotypes we often see on television, try PBS. In an attempt to finally diversify the culinary talent on Food TV Network, they have reached an all time low by using them to perpetuate stereotypes. Your point was well taken....and true!

 
At 9/01/2008 9:50 PM , Blogger Lemmonex said...

This is really well written; thank you for this. I didn't realize GE produced all three of these shows...this pulls it together for me.

The Neely's make me so uncomfortable just for the reasons you state...clean up your act, Food Network.

 
At 9/01/2008 9:54 PM , Blogger Annie said...

Bravo. Great post.

 
At 9/01/2008 10:01 PM , Blogger Wine Dine Whine said...

I truly do wonder what the general consensus of southerns (and African American southerners at that) think of FN's portrayal of these folks.

 
At 9/01/2008 10:16 PM , Blogger Karen said...

I may be mistaken about this. But I remember reading, 3-4 years ago, that Paula Deen was on the verge of being cancelled. Her show wasn't getting the ratings needed to stay on the network. Then she morphed into the "Paula's Party" version of Paula Deen, and suddenly she became one of the biggest fixtures on FN, complete with her own magazine, endorsements, etc.

I don't like her as much, but evidently the viewers of the Food Network like her better this way - her ratings are much higher now than they were back then.

 
At 9/01/2008 10:26 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wholeheartedly agree with your post, Jacob! Paula's show was awesome the first seaso or two. I guess Gordon wanted her to "kick it up a notch" and become a load-mouthed pervert!
I can't even stomack to watch th Neeley's or Big Daddy's House any longer. The Neeley's are loud and obnixious, let alone their potty mouth's....Big Daddy's show just isn't working, period.
All the big FN names are leaving the network. They KNOW the almighty FN ship is sinking....

 
At 9/01/2008 10:30 PM , Anonymous Coopama said...

Didn't Gordon Elliot have a "jerry springer" type show in the mid-90's? That might explain the "will do whatever it takes for ratings" his productions seem to be taking.

 
At 9/01/2008 10:46 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for summarizing my total feelings about this mess presented by FN. (I wish Bob and Tuzie and the rest, the best, but get yer resumes updated, my dear squirrels.)

 
At 9/01/2008 11:23 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

"At 10:01 PM , Blogger Wine Dine Whine said...

I truly do wonder what the general consensus of southerns (and African American southerners at that) think of FN's portrayal of these folks."

Wine/Dine/Whine - I come from a large southern family and I am gravely offended by Paula Deens horribly offensive trashing and mockery of southern accents. Yes, we have this word Ya'll. But you say it like "yuh all"... It's not some skreaming cackly "HOWA WE DOE EN YOWLLLL!". That's a totally fake accent that makes southerners look like poe dunk fools. And not all of us are... :)
And did I mention that she makes southern women look like drunken perverted mom-whores that should have never mixed pain pills with southern comfort before the camera started to roll?

 
At 9/01/2008 11:27 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

good post Jacob--you nailed it--
I had thought it was just me that didn't like what Paula Deen has become--didn't realize so many others felt the same way--

 
At 9/01/2008 11:27 PM , Blogger Sarah said...

I couldn't echo everyone else more. I cannot watch the Neely's show because it's so awkward listening to their comments to each other...appropriate for the bedroom, and not the kitchen. I unfortunately haven't caught Aaron's show since he won, but he was my favorite on NFNS for his warm and "normal person" personality. He seemed to be true and genuine, grateful for the experience and loving what he did...I'm sad to hear that Gordo has changed all that...

 
At 9/01/2008 11:28 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can write off Paula's accent because she's from a different part of Georgia than I'm from. I grew up in Atlanta and have very little Southern accent.

What I CAN'T write off, though, is the way she acts!! How EMBARRASSING to have her flirting with all the men- even kissing them!! Poor Michael Groover! What in the world must HE think about his wife acting like this? This is NOT how Southern women should be acting!!!! The sweet Paula in her earlier shows NEVER acted like this!!!


Kelli in TN

 
At 9/01/2008 11:38 PM , Blogger John said...

You have really hit on something here that has always nagged at me. The Food Network panders, as we know, but you've vocalized one good reason why: the way that stereotypes are painted for its stars. You are totally correct about Paula vs Ina: both women typically have used WAY too much butter for their own good in their cooking shows.

But Ina's show isn't produced by Gordon Elliott, is it? She does have that refined way about her show that just coos "I'm making fun food up here in the Hamptons for all my friends. How easy is that?"

Paula's show has evolved into just one, big stereotype, insulting to Southerners and perhaps to Deen herself. Is her food inferior to Ina's? Heck no. But they've made her into a caricature of what a "Southerner" is supposed to be.

I can't and won't comment on the Neelys because I just haven't seen much of their show. To be honest, their show debuted around the same time that I really started tuning out from the Food Network. When I saw the show was going to air I thought, "Finally, they are bringing in some serious African-American talent." I'm very disappointed to read that they've been transformed into just another silly stereotype. TWO of them, actually: caricatures of both Southerners and African Americans.

I have seen only one episode of Aaron's show and was not terribly impressed. it wasn't the one where he kissed raw meat, thank God. Ick :P

 
At 9/01/2008 11:52 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous 7:36 p.m., do you even speak English? Jeez....

 
At 9/01/2008 11:55 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really agree with everything Jacob wrote.

I can't stand to watch "raunchy granny" Paula. The Neely's are just as bad now...they seem like their cooking is foreplay and I'd rather NOT see that.

I liked Aaron on the NFNS, but I don't like the "Big Daddy" crap. I wish he could just be himself.

 
At 9/02/2008 12:23 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous 7:36 p.m., do you even speak English? Jeez....

Yes I speak English. Maybe typing a little fast...and made a few typos. But I am as much of an American as you therefore, I do speak English.

Author,

You got what you wanted. The hooded keyboard group is out tonight. You usually don't have but two or three comments.

Oh, I can read too..Lisa & Adam lost. Get over it.

 
At 9/02/2008 12:29 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love your blog Jacob and agree about Paula completely changing, but I must admit I enjoy Aaron's new show. He's a little goofy with his big daddy this and big daddy that, but I see it just as him enjoying his moment. His recipes are home cook friendly and I can always appreciate that.

Well written post.

 
At 9/02/2008 12:30 AM , Anonymous Edisto Island Lady said...

Good post Jacob! Gordon Elliott has made Paula, The Neelys and Aaron the laughing stocks of FN while he laughs all the way to the bank!

He also produces "Road Tasted" and you have to wonder if he is the "real" reason the Deen boys said no to a second season. Hummm...

 
At 9/02/2008 12:42 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice, well thought out post.

 
At 9/02/2008 12:47 AM , Blogger Elana said...

I am so happy to realize it was not just me who thought these things. Paula's "new" personality is offensive. Aarons food on the show looked good, there has not been one thing I would make on his show yet! Hopefully THEY are reading these comments.

 
At 9/02/2008 12:59 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think your remarks about Aaron, Paula and the McNeely's can also be said of other FN hosts.

FN exploits what they need to make money; whether they be breasts, the obnoxious voice or race. Those hosts that are smart step off the platform of Hell.

 
At 9/02/2008 5:11 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know if Gordon Elliott had a hand in this too, but you could say the same thing about Rachael Ray -- except the fact that she's not Southern or African-American. If you go to the RR Sux website, people on there say they used to like her until she became an over-the-top caricature of herself.

 
At 9/02/2008 6:48 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if it's a question of any stereotype, whether of Southerners, Negroes or whatever.

Emeril was pretty tame at first.

-ANON 66

 
At 9/02/2008 7:16 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think all of this "over the top" behavior has less to do with Gordon Elliott and more to do with the influence of Rachael Ray on the network. Since her "transformation" - she used to be just as subdued as Paula in your clip - she has infiltrated all areas of media and made a TON of money for the network. The pressure is probably on EVERYONE to become "the next Rachael Ray" as opposed to being themselves.

 
At 9/02/2008 8:56 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

You hit the nail right on the head, Jacob! I couldn't agree more!

Let's hope the execs at FN leave Giada, Ina, and Tyler alone!!

 
At 9/02/2008 9:19 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

"He also produces "Road Tasted" and you have to wonder if he is the "real" reason the Deen boys said no to a second season. Hummm..."

Oh dear. Please don't mention the Deen boys. They make us Southerners look SO stupid! I really hope that they are only acting so uneducated and clueless for the camera!!!!

 
At 9/02/2008 9:52 AM , Blogger Greg said...

Media in general has a tendency to push a person into something other than what they are. It's highly competitive, so part of the package and nature. But this usually is a sign (the hyperbolic personalities) that the show has little substance on its own.

How many cooking shows can you have before they all start looking alike? Sure they could innovate and maybe show some background on the food they are using (some shows do), but this increases costs. So they make the show on the cheap, keeping to a studio, and try to inflate the personality of the host to make it more "talk-show" oriented.

"Big Daddy's House" is a guy in a kitchen. It's pretty boring and I quickly lost interest. He doesn't add anything that I couldn't read in a recipe. And that Guy Fieri, some of his shows are interesting, but I can't help thinking that I only wish it had a less annoying host. Something about him gets in the way of his shows.

The over-the-top personality does work on many of their programs though. "Good Eats" with Alton Brown is an example. You can't get much more over-the-top than Brown on his show, except maybe Ted Allen on "Food Detectives." Both work. So maybe the problem isn't so much pushing personalities, but shows that really lack substance?

What's Big Daddy showing me that I don't already know or can't look up in a book? Not a lot. On top of this, he isn't very entertaining.

 
At 9/02/2008 10:45 AM , Anonymous Dairyland girl said...

It's both refreshing and sad to watch the clip of Paula from what seems like sooooo long ago. Four minutes of video and not one screech or cackle. And she called it a spatula, not a spatchler. I miss the old Paula.

Thanks for outlining all of this, Jacob. FN may be pulling in more viewers with these over the top antics, but I'm not one of them.

 
At 9/02/2008 11:16 AM , Anonymous former food network viewer said...

I totally agree.

 
At 9/02/2008 12:11 PM , Blogger greenbean said...

Kudos Jacob! You hit the nail on the head and tactfully addressed race and stereotypes. Thank you for that. I truly hope this makes it's way to FN.

 
At 9/02/2008 12:20 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with you 100%

 
At 9/02/2008 12:50 PM , OpenID three-blue said...

I couldn't agree more. I loved them all at one point but they are steadily moving away from the reasons why I enjoyed their personalities.

 
At 9/02/2008 12:59 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kudos, Jacob, for a well-thought out article on just what is happening at FN. I'm glad I'm not the only one who has tuned off these shows. It's a shame FN has allowed this to happen.

I began watching FN in the dark ages when the Two Fat Ladies appeared, Emeril was very young, and the Two Hot Tamales first started. It was like watching old black & white TV - gentler and kinder. Well, times change and so here we all are dealing with a different kind of network.

Think I'll be choosy and "tune out" when I care not to "tune in" to FN and go to some other network.

Thanks, Jacob. You can bet I will continue to tune in to your blog!

 
At 9/02/2008 2:16 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm so glad someone has brought this to the FNA community. It just supports the fact that company's with money research everything to the bitter-end. Dammit; I knew it was a set-up....

 
At 9/02/2008 2:38 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

My problem is not with the personalities, but with the food. I sat down one Sunday and watched Paula deep fry cinnamon rolls, followed by the Neelys frying things, and then Aaron dumping an insane amount of oil on the few vegetables making an appearance on his show. I watch for the food. What Aaron makes can barely be called food.

 
At 9/02/2008 3:11 PM , Blogger Lord of Light AZ said...

The first thing I thought reading your post was "Bravo", but someone took that right away. I really think you hit the nail on the head with this post, which took forever to be posted.

I very much agree with you, Jacob, most Follow Productions are turn offs. Although, I really did like watching "Follow that Food".

I really am learning a lot about blacks and southerners from watching the Food Network. About as much as I learned watching the Dukes of Hazzard. Catherine Bach and Jessica Simpson, oh my lets get one of them on FN!!!

I did watch Big Daddy and Prime Rib, but that came a day after I saw Primal Grill. Oh my god the difference between the oven and spit roasted is like heaven and hell. I wanted to get in my car and drive to Tucson, where Primal Grill is shot and just steal that roast.

The one thing you didn't really touch on is cinematography, which really is bad. The snapshot jerkiness just makes me more unbalanced.

 
At 9/02/2008 3:37 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great Post---I agree-The Neelys are just flatout unwatchable...especially their new show. I just cringe watching them

 
At 9/02/2008 4:14 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for writing what I have thought for weeks. I am very disappointed with Gordon Elliott. He has managed to turn real people who also can cook, into a joke. I would rather watch the Weather Channel than any of his shows.

 
At 9/02/2008 4:17 PM , Blogger jacob said...

"The one thing you didn't really touch on is cinematography, which really is bad. The snapshot jerkiness just makes me more unbalanced."

Oh I've been planning on writing about that for a while! :-) I'm glad others notice it too. I just think his shows look so cheap. No reason Paula should have won before Giada... her show is shot like a movie and takes a full day to do one ep. And it looks so much better for it!

 
At 9/02/2008 4:19 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you! Your comments are definitely not an overreaction as you can see by the responses so far. IMO, you were spot on!

I have yet to watch Aaron's show because I found the promos so off-putting that tuning in didn't appeal to me.

I have tried to watch the Neelys on more than one occasion (both Down Home and Road Tasted) and haven't lasted more than 10 minutes on either show.

As for Paula, I've only really been watching her show for the last couple of years but you can definitely see a difference between her earlier "Paula's Home Cooking" shows that have been re-run and her more current shows. And "Paula's Party" is just short of ridiculous. I watched it the other night and it was 90% talk show and 10% food show. That too, has changed dramatically from the first shows that were on. Before it was about audience participation. Now it's about celebrity participation. And frankly, I thought Donald Trump, Jr. was more than diplomatic when she had the nerve to pretend to start unbuckling his belt. How tacky!! -- especially for the time it airs in the northeast (7:00 pm Saturday evening). I can't believe that the FN would allow things like that to go to air.

I just hope FN sees the error of their ways. I don't think that any one of them should lose their job but a toning down of their over-the-top portrayals would be welcome.

 
At 9/02/2008 4:41 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree. I used to love to watch Paula and now I just can't stomach watching her tacky remarks.

 
At 9/02/2008 5:03 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

True, all! I miss the old Paula and I want to love the Neelys, but it all just gets embarrassing to watch after a while.

It's interesting, people have mentioned that the motive behind all this is money, but given that the overwhelming majority of those commenting here are in agreement, who is that money coming from ?!?!

 
At 9/02/2008 5:55 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are brilliant!I love side of this...because it is exactly what I have been thinking for years. I had met Paula and Michael on a book tour years ago and loved them both. Now, I cannot stand to watch her anymore. Fake hair, teeth, and the raunch factor...I will watch that on other channels, I do not need to see that on Food Network. I cannot stand Gordon Elliot...for the exact reasons you noted. You sir are by far one of the best bloggers out there...and about my very favorite channel that seems to be going downhill fast!

 
At 9/02/2008 6:31 PM , Anonymous Harry Martin said...

This should post should win an Emmy! :-)

You nailed every opinion I have of the three shows.

I used to lve Paul (even own the old DVDs) but can't stand to watch her anymore. The Neelys offer some good recipes, but what you have to go through to watch 'em.

I just *long* for new Ina shows -- above all else, she is truly the classiest touch on Food Network.

 
At 9/02/2008 6:32 PM , Anonymous Harry Martin said...

This should post should win an Emmy! :-)

You nailed every opinion I have of the three shows.

I used to love Paula (even own the old DVDs) but can't stand to watch her anymore. The Neelys offer some good recipes, but what you have to go through to watch 'em.

I just *long* for new Ina shows -- above all else, she is truly the classiest touch on Food Network.

 
At 9/02/2008 7:46 PM , Blogger Beth said...

Bravo, Jacob. I totally agree.

I am a proud Southerner and I used to enjoy Paula. But eventually she became so over-the-top that now it embarrasses me to watch her (as Mike Nelson of MST3K said, "Come on, NOBODY is THAT Southern") - and honestly, NO ONE says "y'all" that often.

It truly saddens me that she and the Food Network are perpetuating the stereotype of the ignorant butter-guzzling Southerner, not to mention the stereotype of the randy Grandma. Early Paula was great fun - current Paula needs to take it down a few notches. It would be wonderful if she would be allowed to do so.

 
At 9/02/2008 9:39 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

did anyone notice how much thinner she used to be in her early tv days? she gained a significant amount of weight. she looked healthier too! and more like a regular person than her stainless steel hair and heavy makeup

 
At 9/02/2008 9:51 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't stand Paula Deen anymore either....what I would LOVE to know is how can she (or the others, including FN) possibly be clueless about how we all feel??
With the internet and all the blogging going on by so many people about them you can't tell me none of them would check things out....they aren't THAT busy!!

and you can't tell me with such a high percentage of people that think all these horrible but true things, it wouldn't have SOME affect on her/them....
if it was me I would feel like an idiot if I knew so many people couldn't stand me for the way I am....
WHATEV, just really wondering!!

 
At 9/02/2008 10:23 PM , OpenID jheaton said...

Good post. One clarification: there was at least one on-air use of the Big Daddy nickname; Kelsey called him that in her last episode.

 
At 9/02/2008 10:44 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, great analysis. I'm thinking a couple of things about the Neely's and about Aaron. The Neelys' show struck me as an attempt to portray a happy African American couple, the all-American family, really contrary to a lot of images of blacks (especially men) in the media, kind of the Cosby Show of the FN. Have there been any other married-couple cooking shows on, ever? I can't think of any. So to me, this is presenting a positive image of an all-American healthy black couple, very family oriented, etc. I think there's a little of that in Aaron's show, too -- perhaps that's why his kids were on the first show. "I'm a regular hard-working African American family man" kind of thing. Anyway, I agree with everyone regarding the sexual innuendo on their show and on Paula's shows, I think they're trying to go for the entertainment aspect of the food entertainment genre so people who aren't interested in food watch anyway. Problem is, they're trying to make non-funny people funny by encouraging this stupid sexual banter, and it's just gross, not funny. (Paula is actually kind of funny if she's being herself, but not funny enough to attract non-food people to watch. She had a great laugh back when it was genuine.)

Think about who gives you a laugh anymore on FN, now that Emeril's old jokes are moldy, Rachael's little comments are also very old, etc? Add to it the fact that most of the shows are lacking in substance (as someone noted previously), and what do you have? A show devoid of substance to those who know food, and a show devoid of entertainment save some well-photographed cleavage here and there (which doesn't attract me as a straight woman, in fact it offends me as objectification but that's another story.) And let's look at what all you folks who post here like. Alton Brown (full of substance and slightly humorous sometimes), Ace of Cakes (very humorous and not really about cooking at all, but talk about people who are likeable, funny, and genuine!!!!!), and you all also really like Ina, who I think is okay but I don't get the adoration. Whatever. In any case, I think they're trying too hard to get "entertaining" people who can draw viewers with their personalities but who can't really cook, but still, people who can cook enough to qualify for "Food Network" status. I'm attracted by people who can really cook, even if their personalities aren't the best (I love Bobby Flay). And I still can't understand why Tyler Florence isn't on primetime, awesome cook and very cute. Anyway, that's just me, apparently not the typical FN viewer.

Barbara

 
At 9/02/2008 10:54 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know, the more I think about it, the more I think they should stop looking for cooks or chefs and look for entertaining people, then teach them to cook and have chefs develop their recipes for them. They'd probably get better ratings and they wouldn't be any less fake than they are now given the "fix" that was in on the NFNS. Gee, wonder why Adam got his own show? He's entertaining. Just find actors and teach them to host a cooking show!

Barbara

 
At 9/03/2008 12:41 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I got to this site through another site. I started reading and realized that I had found a bunch of anger white people who don't like the fact that your little network has added flavor. That flavor is BASIC BLACK.

You turned on Paula when she told your girl Lisa that her food was nasty nasty. Now she is grouped with the black people.

Some of you are double posting and wondering if FN is counting your comments. No they are not.

All your posts are stupid but one stood out

"At 6:48 AM , Anonymous said...
I'm not sure if it's a question of any stereotype, whether of Southerners, Negroes or whatever."

Negroes? Where do you live? Vida, Texas.

You even have some people posting pretending to be Black (All American family). Please. Blacks only want to be a “Black family”. If you were indeed Black you would know that our family structure is very strong.

People, we are getting ready to elect a Black man as President of the United States. You all have better learn to cook BBQ, Fried Chicken, and greens. Because, this will become the only type of food that we will allow to be cooked.

We are going to move people like Ina to the Fine Food Television (the movement has already started).

We will take over FN. Every show will be directed by Gordon. The Neleys, Aaron and Paula will take turns cooking all the food. FN will stand for Friends of Negroes. Will you join us?

I almost forgot. There will be a remote control in each home. Please feel free to use it.

 
At 9/03/2008 12:47 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

everything you said is so right. i hope those food network execs read your blog and these comments.

 
At 9/03/2008 1:55 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe this has already been discussed, but ever since I saw Paula physically push Giada down on the 2008 Food Network special from Florida, I just haven't felt the same about Paula. Paula's ego has just gotten the better of her and it shows.

 
At 9/03/2008 2:10 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

The above post. WOW. I have a lot of work tonight but I took the time to read additional posts.

I think, (as I mentioned last night, I am an American and can speak my mind like it or dislike it), the Author of this blog has already mentioned in earlier posts his dislike for Aaron (he did mention he wanted Lisa to win). Since the New York Times’ article came out about Aaron's show (high ratings for his time slot (1.2 million+) and mentioned the FN execs. are considering addition shows, you started this post hoping to change their minds.

Will not happen. They are negotiations for additional shows as you try to stop what you can’t.

 
At 9/03/2008 6:59 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous 12:41 a.m. and 2:10 a.m. are both idiots.

That being said, Jacob is spot on.

 
At 9/03/2008 7:54 AM , Anonymous Doc said...

Good to read the Truth!
Thank you Jacob.

 
At 9/03/2008 8:56 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please don't let Anonymous 12:41 be the voice of ALL black people.

His comments are ignorant.

 
At 9/03/2008 9:43 AM , Blogger jacob said...

To respond:

"I think, (as I mentioned last night, I am an American and can speak my mind like it or dislike it), the Author of this blog has already mentioned in earlier posts his dislike for Aaron (he did mention he wanted Lisa to win)."

Incorrect. I have never mentioned any blatant dislike for Aaron. In fact, I'm pretty sure I was more blatant in my displeasure with Lisa, who, I NEVER said would be my choice to win.

I may have chided him for not knowing how to say "chipotle" but that's about it. The only person I kind of alluded to as my choice to win something was Hillary Clinton.

 
At 9/03/2008 9:46 AM , Blogger jacob said...

And another thing...

"Since the New York Times’ article came out about Aaron's show (high ratings for his time slot (1.2 million+) and mentioned the FN execs. are considering addition shows, you started this post hoping to change their minds."

Did you even read what I wrote? The only mind I'd like to change is Gordon Elliott's... or maybe the execs. who gave him Aaron's show to produce.

My argument has nothing to do with not liking Aaron or the show and everything to do with not liking Gordon Elliott and what he has done with his programs.

 
At 9/03/2008 10:27 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some of you are NOT reading Jacob's comments correctly. So before you all start screaming please read it carefully. I was just on FN Canada and their site was great and looks like they have alot better shows than we do. They use alot of local products and produce and healthy show.

 
At 9/03/2008 11:33 AM , Blogger Charles said...

Did it ever occur to anyone that these personalities that we are seeing now are how they ACTUALLY really are off-camera? The subdued Rach and Paula that we were initially introduced too maybe weren't really who they were. As they became more comfortable and confident with their shows, and viewership grew, then they began expressing more of their true personalities. Seriously, I don't think Gordon Elliott turned Paula into a potty-mouthed granny perv. He may, however, influenced her to show that side of herself. I, too, miss her original episodes of "PHC" and "PP" but I would in no way bash her. The public loves to build people up only to bring them down. As the saying goes, "you can please some of the people some of the time, but you can't please all of the people all of the time".

 
At 9/03/2008 11:54 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cool article. After watching that Paula segment, I have to say Paula's show was better then.
I can see where it needed to be jazzed up a bit though, but not like it is now! It is sickening the way it is set up now! Now, Paula show's are all sexual hype and no food substance! Maybe, Elliot should call her show Paula's Aphrodisiac Hour! What Elliot did to Paula's show is typical of what happened at WAMI-TV, when the network Hollywood execs got their meat hooks into our locally produced t.v. shows. They tried to change the formats, change the hosts, re-arrange the time slots, and reinvent the wheel! And, none of what they did worked or improved the shows! It killed them!
What Elliot and typical Hollywood television execs and producers don't seem to "regularly" realize, due in a great part to Hollywood's famous nepotisic view, is that what may generally work on the West coast doesn't necessarily work on the East coast or in this case the South and visa versa! My guess is that there are senior Hollywood VPs and execs pulling the strings behind the scenes, that are steering Food Network's on-air look and the format direction of it's shows. Elliot is just a goon they hired to implement their over produced and over stylized concepts!

 
At 9/03/2008 12:04 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

To those of you who are shouting "Racism" when someone doesn't dig the Neelys or Aaron....do you realize how backward and silly that is? You should be pissed that there are no shows produced by black producers and no black network executives at FN. Pick your battles fer chrissakes!

 
At 9/03/2008 12:15 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post. Great conversation. Another reason I so love this blog!

I'd like to know how many of you who belive that Paula has been turned into a potty mouth by G. Elliot have read her autobiography. It's a wonderful book and I highly recommend it. In it you will learn all kinds of dirt and you will also learn that not all of us Southern girls are precious belles that sit on the porch sipping milk. In fact, Paula is a smoker to this day (even though she won't let herself be filmed or photographed with a cigarette) and she had an affair with a married man for years and years.

I am the first to agree that the Neely's and Paula's Party are way over the top with the sexy stuff. I don't care for either of the shows and don't watch them. But I do like Paula in her kitchen (the real one is Savannah with HER dogs as well as the old one in New York at Gordon Elliot's house with HIS dog Gertie).

And yes, she might have been pushed to be more in-yo-face. But neither Gordon nor FN has created a new human here. Paula is a cursing, dirty minded wild Southern woman and proud of it! And I am, too!

 
At 9/03/2008 1:02 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree completely and rooted for Aaron to win. He's way over the top now as is Paula. I miss the old Paula. Recently when Tony Danza was on and of course Paula had to seize on balls balls balls when they made meatballs, and Tony Danza looked at the camera and said "who saw that coming" (hilarious) In other words being sacrastic that she has become so predicatble in her dirty talk. It's a shame. She's a good lady and needs to get back to her old self.
Screw Gordon Elliot. Be yourselves Paula and Aaron.

 
At 9/03/2008 3:13 PM , Anonymous A said...

Interesting post, Jacob.

I have read numerous posts on blogs and boards about the glorious time when the FN will be free of Paula, Rachael, Guy, The Neelys and now Aaron, as well as their leaders, Susie, Bob and Gordon. Folks that day ain't coming anytime soon. What I think needs to be acknowledged is that the FN and the Gordon Elliott produced shows are very successful: ratings wise, merchandising and even awards. Note: Gordon Elliott does not produce the shows of all of the aforementioned hosts.

However, I see Jacob's point. Some of what has aired has slipped into Least Common Denominator territory. Gordon Elliott's involvement certainly doesn't lessen that threat since he has engaged in that kind of television previously. I think TPTB at the FN need to do some soul searching, I think they can figure out a way to let their hosts show their "big personalities" without resorting to crassness or low-brow and tacky stereotypes.

TNFNS finale that crowned Aaron McCargo Jr., was the highest rated show in the history of the network and the show overall was a strong performer in the cable reality TV category. The show was fairly straightforward, you didn't have contestants and judges behaving outrageously and pandering to the cameras. Even the grande dame herself, Rachael (sorry Paula), doesn't conduct herself like a refugee from The Jerry Springer Show. Yeah, I know she's not a choir girl either. So there is room to tone things down a bit and still maintain and increase the ratings. The FN and Gordon Elliott can produce shows that you wouldn't mind your very young children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews and your childhood Sunday School teacher watching.

 
At 9/03/2008 3:22 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just for the record, Anonymous 12:41, I wasn't pretending to be black. I'm white. I'm a sociologist and interested in race, popular culture, etc.

Awesome blog Jacob!

Barbara

 
At 9/03/2008 4:14 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

i find it intriguing to note that when paula was 1st starting out she was a lot more subdued and low key and lo and behold the more "famou$" she became, the more $hows she was given, the more MONEY she made, the louder, crasser, in your face, embarrassing, crude Paula pops out.... when paula didn't have a lot of money she was one way, now that Paula has fuck everyone money , well....balls, y'all.

 
At 9/03/2008 4:15 PM , Blogger Lisa said...

I couldn't agree more with Charles! I think you're reaching a bit. I seroiusly doubt you can blame Gordon Elliott for the way these people act. In large part it's probably due to the fact that as they spend more time in front of the camera, they become more comfortable. Therefore, they're going to be a little more open, shocking, sexy etc. Of course Paula isn't the same as she was in the early days. She's gotten much more used to being in front of the camera and so her whole personality is coming out - why hold back now? She's been successful, has two shows, cookbooks, a restaurant, people like her. Why shouldn't she be able to showcase her whole personality if she wants to? As the previous poster said, in her autobiography she's obviously not some sweet old Southern granny. Perhaps she realized people were seeing her that way and she wanted to bust that image of herself on her own!
As for the Neely's, I think those two have been that way from their very first show. Honestly, I don't see anything wrong with it. If they offend you or "gross you out" with their affection on camera then don't watch. I seriously doubt that off camera while they are cooking in their kitchen that they are perfectly banal, stoic and don't make so-called sexual references to each other.
I mean honestly, you really think Gordon Elliott is able to control and influence people's behavior and actions that much? Why is it so hard to believe that these people act that way because they are that way?
It's like dating. You don't show your whole personality at once, you ease it out there. If they came out all WHAM BAM THANK YOU MA'AM right away it might turn people off. In my opinion, your theory is a bit weak.
I think these people also probably feel pressure in general to be as over the top and entertaining as possible because that's what American society has come to. We aren't entertained by simple things anymore - everything has to be overdone. They're probably just trying to keep up with everyone else on television. And can we really fault them for that? You're damned if you do, damned if you don't!

 
At 9/03/2008 5:03 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 12.41 am. You said black folk eat fried chicken, BBQ, and greens.

I knew about the fried chicken. Did you know many black folk equally like peanuts and Jello as dietary mainstays ?

 
At 9/03/2008 5:06 PM , Anonymous Simon said...

Could someone stifle Charles ? The guy is a total windbag.

 
At 9/03/2008 5:49 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a southern cook, I have to say thank you, thank you, thank you for your post Jacob. It is depressing the way the south is portrayed in entertainment, politics and every other way that comes to mind. I really enjoyed Paula at first because she seemed so genuine an example of rural southern women- sweet, warm, funny and can cook up a storm. Now, she's just kind of creepy and silly. The Neely's are playing up a terrible stereotype (loud, over-bearing, over-sexed black woman). Can they cook? I have no idea, I can't get past Gina- I'd rather watch paint dry. FN has cheapened so many of the aspects that I used to enjoy. I rarely watch it anymore but I do enjoy your blog.

 
At 9/03/2008 6:07 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

For those of you who think that a producer like Gordon doesn't have control over the star's on-screen personality, YOU ARE WRONG.

It is considered the producer's "job" to bring out and supposedly showcase their personalities.

Gordon Elliot wants to be known as the person who brings big personalities to the network.

 
At 9/03/2008 6:41 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know a whole lot about television production, but I do believe that a producer and/or director has almost complete control of what the finished product looks like. So Mr. Elliott could rein any of these personalities in by yelling "Cut" and saying "Don't do that - we need a re-take". All of these shows are edited - even a live audience show like Paula's Party. Obviously they are edited to his liking. Apparently, he likes tacky and trashy.

And for those who say that Paula is probably acting more like her "real self" than she was in earlier years. I don't doubt that that is true. I read her memoirs -she is brash and bawdy and very unlady-like. But this is suppose to be instructional/informational television not some reality show where there are cameras in every room recording all their intimate conversations.

 
At 9/03/2008 8:00 PM , Blogger Charles said...

To simon @ 5:06pm, r u just mad cuz someone doesn't agree with what "simon says"? Yeah, mmmmhmmm. Besides, I'd rather be a windbag than a douchebag like yourself.

 
At 9/04/2008 9:42 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

FN loves to perpetuate racial stereotypes....like they needed to "black" up Aaron more and they created this over the top ridiculous "latina" personality with Ingird Hoffman...which btw that show only came out when next foodnetwork star with Jag was over....even Paula Deen and RR...RR has to be this gesticulating Italian girl and Paula's southern accent is so overdone at times...it's ridiculous as well with the personalities they "created" with the Neeleys...as an ethnic person i think this strategy is not only unethical but is an insult to anyone ethnic....

 
At 9/04/2008 9:46 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

to Charles...do u seriously believe that is RR's personality....??????????

 
At 9/04/2008 10:08 AM , Blogger Cuz_I'm_The_Mom said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 9/04/2008 10:12 AM , Anonymous plussize86 said...

There is an audience for the kind of television that Food Network produces, or they wouldn't produce it. Try being a teacher in a classroom full of the "IN YOUR FACE" generation. They want it loud, they want it vibrant, they want it colorful, they want it flashy, and they don't really care that much about taste, for the most part. I strive every single day to teach my students the art of subtlety in speech and writing. Nuance has become a thing of the past.

Being both Black AND living in the South, I can tell you that there are exceedingly better ways to produce a television show about how African-Americans and/or Southerners cook, eat, and spend time with their families. And we don't kiss the food we are about to prepare or yell the entire time we're cooking.

 
At 9/04/2008 11:17 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

My beef (pardon the pun) is that the food sems to be so much the same on these shows. IMHO that says something significant about the lack of creativity in these productions. I'm not seeing anything new or different.

 
At 9/04/2008 1:25 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I still do not understand why you people keep watching these shows. There are many other shows with the type of people you like; acting the way you like.

I am Black and from the South. In our house cooking is fun and happy. We crack jokes, I often sing while I am cooking, talk about the old days, etc. I don't watch the food network to learn to cook. i am from Louisiana and we do know how to cook. I watch for peronality and a few tricks.

What I like about Aaron's show is my husband is cooking more because he thinks he is big daddy (they are twins).

I quess to each his own.

 
At 9/04/2008 1:45 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post. I agree with all the thoughtful comments that have been made. Creating sterotypes is exactly what FN is giving us instead of the cooking shows that once were on the air. Ingrid Hoffman is another example of this trend. I notice that if her accent starts to fade, she just over does it in the next segment. Thank goodness for PBS, they still produce interesting food shows.

 
At 9/04/2008 3:00 PM , Anonymous Simon said...

Please someone put the muzzle on our friend Charles.

Nice name.Charles. You sound like a doof if ever a doof lived.
Charles. hahahahah Charles. hahah

gearbox.

 
At 9/04/2008 3:04 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like a great many people are in agreement with your article. I know I am. I couldn't have said it better myself.

I do not watch Paula Deen anymore, have watched the Neely's 3x, but end up changing the channel. Aaron's show I have never seen, as I am never home when it comes on.

FN is not being successful by thinking they are making these shows bigger, better and more awesome.

And that is sad.............

 
At 9/04/2008 3:24 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with one of the commenters above; PBS has good cooking shows without the ridiculous, over-the-top personality requirements.

 
At 9/04/2008 4:04 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

My opinion is that Paula's true personality is the way she is now - an uneducated, pervert who just happened to be from the south and a strong southern accent. She was just toned down in the earlier stages as she was new and intimidated. Now she's overly confident and feels she can be herself.

I really like Ina's shows - very smooth and devoid of histronics with the exception of her finding everything hysterically funny when she interaccts with Jeffrey or her friends.

 
At 9/04/2008 4:10 PM , Blogger Val said...

I used to be a HUGE fan of FN, but it's just not the same anymore. I used to watch it for tips on the kitchen, and now I get to watch sexual innuendos dropped continuously-- disgusting! And, no one has mentioned Sunny? Her "Keeping it Real" food sucks andshe is BORING! Paula creeps me out, and I think the Neely's are revolting (although the BBQ sauce is excellent!) I think it's sad that I long for Ina and Giada to watch to be spared "slap me daddy!" when I learned how to cook by watching Paula, RR, and some killer cocktails by Aunt Sandy!

 
At 9/04/2008 5:41 PM , Blogger { b»K } said...

You make some interesting points here, however, I think FN fans (and America in general) need to LIGHTEN UP already. So what if Paula went from being a "sweet, li'l old southern grandma" to a "sassy granny"? My late grandmother from N.C. who recently passed away at the age of 97 was and had been a firecracker all her life, and I admired her for it. The world needs more sassy grannies anyway.

And yes, the Neely's do tend to lay it on rather thick with their "Ooo Baby!" shtick, but who cares? That’s their bag, and you know…I have the right to turn the channel to something else if I don’t like it.

IMO, the bottom line here is that the proof is in the pudding—so long as the on-air talent can indeed cook, the recipes are good, their ideas are fresh, and they can be interesting enough to keep me from changing the channel, then that's all that matters to me.

Gordon Elliot may not be "in touch" with Soul Brothers & Sisters, or Southerners for that matter, but I'm pretty sure he has more experience producing cooking shows that anyone reading this blog has.

 
At 9/04/2008 5:41 PM , Blogger { b»K } said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 9/04/2008 7:53 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Profile of McCargo in the new Bon Appetit mag : i am somewhat appalled i must admit:

"A distinctive "mediagenic" (HUH??) look: Aarons solid build, shaved head, hoop earrings & goatee say "I'm not some frenchified culinary nerd".(O M G)

Memorable catch phrases:Emeril has Bam, Rachael has Yummo Aaron has "THis is what Big Daddy is talking about" ( O M G )

A simple culinary message: "You gotta intensify your food. Don't be bashful or shameful (HUH??). Season it." ( what the HELL does shame have to do with seasoning food?)

Cross-Platform appeal: Not only could Aaron cook but he also showed he was a versatile brand with possible show & product spin offs. (can't wait....not.)

The 'all important' executive sign off: Bob Tuschman, judge & senior VP of programming & production for FN says: We chose Aaron as the winner because his personality like his food was big bold generous and down to earth...He is a gifted chef & his food would be a great fit in the FN line up."

This is just some of the one page article. I find most if it ridiculous.....

 
At 9/04/2008 9:47 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why do people keep saying the the Food Network Addict and/or those who like the blog should just turn the channel and not watch? Don't you get it? He's an ADDICT. He can't stop watching. Neither can I. I love to watch and criticize and hate some of them! It's fun! So is the blog! I'm a FN addict and a FN addict blog addict. I could turn the tables and say if you don't like to read posts from people who hate some of the FN stuff then don't read the blog! Unless you're also an addict.

However, I'm even more of an America's Test Kitchen addict. I love those smug Vermonters. Even when they're so smug they make me hate them. Anyway, PBS cannot be beat for cooking shows. But the FN isn't trying to lure PBS types with Paula or the Neely's or Aaron, I don't think.

Barbara

 
At 9/04/2008 11:12 PM , Blogger Lord of Light AZ said...

Barbara, will you marry me? Do you have a DVR? Mine won't accept any more programs to record, I have to go in and delete planned recordings of Good Eat's reruns, plus I have to go online and figure out what is on the 3rd PBS broadcast channel so I could record a Julia baking episode. I don't understand why America Test Kitchen "had" to come up with a lo-cal cheesecake.

 
At 9/04/2008 11:54 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

{ b»K } must not have watched Paula recently because she is NOT "sassy" granny. She is raunchy, perverted, sexually-charged granny. Yuck.

Paula needs to keep her hands OFF of the men. You know they must hate it as much as the viewers.

 
At 9/05/2008 1:22 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

i totally agree with the poster above me!!
paula needs to keep those claws off everyone she has on her show....
she has absolutely no class or consideration for the poor fools that are stupid enough to go on her show to begin with.....sassy my assy!!!

 
At 9/05/2008 10:18 AM , Blogger Jessica said...

I couldn't agree with you more. I remember watching the old Paula shows, and they wer so comforting and the food was so good and southern. I'm from Tennessee, and her food then was true depiction of what Southerners eat. Once Paula's show moved into her new house I think is when things started to change. Truth be told, how many episodes can you make before you run out of things to cook or deep fry? I also think "Paula's Party" is just absolutely ridiculous, and I think her new show is going to be a disaster. Enough Paula tv already!

 
At 9/05/2008 10:04 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

lord of light az, I would have considered marrying you if you had not deleted Good Eats reruns. I do, however, have a DVR, which will have some space once I delete the Molto Mario reruns. So in lieu of marrying you I might instead agree to share my Good Eats reruns with you. Except I don't know how. Let's ask AB, he knows EVERYTHING.

And you should know that I generally avoid the baking episodes of ATK. I like my empty calories to come from alcoholic beverages.

Barbara

 
At 9/06/2008 12:24 AM , Blogger Lord of Light AZ said...

I like my empty calories to come from alcoholic beverages.

I have a special place in the top of my freezer just for the Stoli.

I only deleted the automatic recording of all "good eat's" I think AB would tell me just buy the DVDs LOL.

 
At 9/06/2008 4:50 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank goodness PBS cooking shows are on Saturday's while FN is on. So when those awful shows come on like Aunt Sandy, Paula, Neelys I can go to PBS (and no commercials) great chefs.

 
At 9/06/2008 5:35 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with many of the other comments..if you have read Paula's memoirs you would know that the lady (term is being used very loosely here) you see on Paula's party is probably as close to her real personality as the public will see. Is it a disappointment? Absolutely, for those of us who enjoyed her during the early years, but I don't think you came blame Gordon for that. I just don't watch her anymore.

Someone else commented that the shows lack true substance...I couldn't agree more. Paula has become absolutely ridiculous in terms of deep frying..deep fried lasagna?!, cinnamon rolls, etc. That's not southern cooking at all. I know, I was born and raised in St. Mary's, GA.

 
At 9/07/2008 3:07 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agree wholeheartedly with Jacob and everyone else. Its embarrassing to watch Paula; the Neely's are a cute couple but I want to watch them cook not make out and Aaron was my favorite on the Food Network Star because he cooked food we all cook but better; now they have made him a clown? Perhaps it is the Food Network demographics that have changed and Gordon Elliot is pandering to the new FN viewer? That is the only reason I can imagine FN would allow this travesty.

 
At 9/07/2008 5:55 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did anyone watch Aaron's new show today? It was actually pretty good...

 
At 9/07/2008 8:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find many of the comments funny. If you watch Aaron's show because you are a addict and want to find fault, loving to do so, then all you are doing is helping the ratings, helping to keep his show as is on the air.

It's not about what any one of us likes or not about the Foodnetwork shows! It's about what the majority like and about ratings. If they are there the shows succeeds like it or not.

 
At 9/07/2008 11:19 PM , Blogger DLWarner said...

I don't agree with this. Could it be that Paula cut down on butter because of weight or health reasons? I've noticed that she had gained and then lost quite a bit of weight. And could it be that the Neely's were toned down on their visit to Paula's show? I don't think that with Paula's wealth and power, Gordon Elliot could make her do anything she didn't want to do at this point. Likewise, I noticed on The Next Food Network Star that Aaron's personality was always there, but it took more than one take to bring it out. As an African american I was more concerned to not see any black faces on that network than what I consider very good cooks who are interesting to watch.

 
At 9/08/2008 2:37 AM , Blogger Dottie654 said...

I agree with you all. Paula, where have you gone? How could you allow some 3rd rate producer ruin you and your show? You used to be one of the top draws on FN.

And I cannot stand the Neelys. It takes a lot to offend me, but they do on several levels, not the least of which is their sexual references. And she is such a loudmouth, she makes him look like a fool.

I haven't been able to find a scheduled time for Big Daddy, but from what I have read here I am not sure I want to.

I also find if offensive that FN seems to feel overkill is a good thing. How many more programs are they going to give that AWFUL Rachael Ray? OMG She makes my teeth hurt, and I have yet to try any of her recipes that tastes good. She is a sloppy cook, presents her plates in a sloppy fashion, and sounds more like a midwesterner (accent) than a New Yorker.

Jacob, would it do any good for the people here to email or write the FN? Or could you copy these emails and send them? Surely they must be receiving other complaints?

Is Ina even coming back? I don't even see her reruns anymore. I think she is a snob and most of us cannot afford what she makes, but there is something addictive about her. Maybe it is the black shirt and pants which seem to be the only clothes she owns!!!

 
At 9/08/2008 2:51 AM , Blogger Dottie654 said...

Paula pushed Giada down? Why? When? That doesn't sound even like the "new" Paula.

Speaking of Giada....now THERE is a show with class. She is one person I love to watch.

I find the only time I watch FN is when they do Challenges, NFNS, Dinners with the new Hispanic guy, Tyler and Giada. I am so turned off by the rest. Can't stand Bobby Flay, Alton Brown, amd there are too many healthy and/or plan ahead shows. I used to watch almost all day on weekends but no more.

 
At 9/08/2008 3:06 AM , Blogger Dottie654 said...

Lisa....as the producer, Gordon Elliott has 100% control over the shows he produces. He is the one who could go to Paula and say people seem to like the old Paula better than the new one; or the Neelys could be told to tone it down; or Big Daddy could be told to relax and be himself. If Gordon has told them to step it up, or if they have done so on their own, Gordon is the one who could make changes if he wanted to.

And, Lisa, Paula can be whomever she wants to be as long as she wants to keep her show. However, when she starts offending or turning her viewers off, she needs to take a step back and evaluate her priorities.....is the show more important than the way her viewers feel.

Also, the Deen brother's show was stupid. There are too many of those copycat shows on, and theirs just didn't cut it.

 
At 9/08/2008 3:24 AM , Blogger Dottie654 said...

To Anonymous a few posts back: you certainly cannot credit Rachael Ray with creating 'yummo.' I have heard that expression for years, even before she was born.

I think, if the FN execs we have seen on NFNS are a good sample, that most of them have sticks up their behinds. And, having said that, it boggles my mind that they tolerate the sort of things we have been talking about tonite.

If their viewership is down, they need to start reading these blogs to hear what people are thinking of their shows.

 
At 9/08/2008 1:12 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dottie, Giada's SHOW might have some class, but she most certainly does NOT.

 
At 9/09/2008 7:39 AM , Blogger Terry B said...

Great post and pretty much my thoughts. I would not watch Down Home if Donnie and Marie were the hosts in the format Gordon presents. I watched the first 15 minutes of the first episode of Big Daddy and that was enough.I have known Paula going back to the Bag Lady days, the power of money will make you do a lot of things: even compromise your integrity.

 
At 9/11/2008 12:02 AM , Anonymous Dottie654 said...

At 1:12 PM , Anonymous said...
Dottie, Giada's SHOW might have some class, but she most certainly does NOT.
*******************
Anonymous @ 1:12pm.......can you please explain why you say that?

 
At 9/11/2008 5:36 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well...looks like Big Daddy's not going anywhere for a while:

http://www.courierpostonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080911/ENT/80911060/1006/news01

 
At 9/14/2008 6:04 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I used to feel as though I were the only one who noticed how repetitive TV content is becoming, including FN. I used to keep this network on whenever I was home. I enjoyed all of the DIFFERENT PERSONALITIES of the show hosts. Now it seems like a script that someone has memorized and repeats over and over. What made the network great was the unique style of each show. Now I sometimes feel that I am watching the same show over and over with different actors reading the rehearsed lines. I buy media time for commercials as part of my job and always used to feel that FN was a good buy. Now I am starting to wonder. By the way, I like Aaron and feel he has great potential if he could lose the script.

 
At 10/14/2008 1:18 AM , Blogger Zo said...

Great Post Jacob!

My wife and I both agree with many of the sentiments posted here. We both liked Aaron a lot NFNS, he seemed so likable, genuine and sincere. He was the most consistent contestant and he was visibly shy in front of the camera, but one could see he had a world of potential. Fast forward to 'Big Daddy' and time has been rolled back to a minstrel show. It's buffoonery, it's shameful and embarrassing. Food Network should be ashamed of themselves for perpetuation worst stereotypes and trying to pass it off as entertainment. As for the Neely's, pretty much the same. I can see that Gina Neely has a big personality, but for someone who use to be a VP at a bank I think it's trifling to 'dumb herself down' to be cartoonish like character for TV.

 
At 10/26/2008 2:16 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree Jacob, wholeheartedly! Gordon Elliot needs to go back to the chicken soup commercials, because I don't like any of the stuff he's putting out on Food Network, regardless of how much EXPERIENCE he has as a producer. lol

 
At 11/03/2008 4:42 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

1.Paula as she is now is alot like the woman she described in her autobiography. I do not believe that she has changed that much--she is now more free to be herself.

2.Most of you on this blog are racist and that is why you dislike the Neelys and Aaron. You especially dislike what they represent: black people who are affectionate with each other and enjoy their families. You dislike this as it challenges what you have been taught about blacks, which is that black men prefer white women and mistreat black women and disrespect them and that black men are not family oriented. Both the Neelys and Aaron's shows fly in the face of these racist misconceptions so you dislike it intensely. You all will even lie about the shows content to make you points. I watch the Neelys and Aaron regularly and I have never seen the Neelys "making out" as so many of you term it. I have seen husband and wife banter affectionately about meals and foods they made while they were courting or first married. They are not overly vulgar. Aaron is not buffoonish to me--he is an urban black male using current urban vernacular to describe his dishes. Many of you are on here exaggerating what is on their shows to justify the fact that you do not want blacks on the Food Network.

3.Last but certainly not least, the ratings of the Food Network are up, not down and their current highest rated show is the Neelys, followed by Paula Deen so you people on this blog do not know anything about what the viewing audience likes--it is apparently not Ina Garten or Giada.

 
At 11/20/2008 7:29 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

You've practically taken the words right out of my mouhth! In fact, I have shared this very same opinion of what the FN was doing and didn't even know your website existed! I'm so glad to have found you and your dishing on the FN "chefs" (term used loosely)

 
At 11/20/2008 7:30 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry....words out of my "mouth"

 
At 12/25/2008 11:47 PM , Anonymous Dana D said...

I agree with the blog especially with respect to Paula's "evolution" over the past few years. Earlier, she was a warm southern cook, now she acts like a horny stereotypical worn out southern belle. Her accent has gotten so fake it's ridiculous. I'm an African-American woman and I've never been able to watch the Neely's. I tried to watch it when it came out because finally there were some black faces on FN and I felt like shooting myself in the head after 10 minutes! I thought I was the only one who felt this way, but I see I am wrong. I wonder what Paula's husband is thinking when she's up there making a fool out of herself acting like a whore with every man that comes on the show?

 
At 1/26/2009 9:41 AM , Blogger RubyHeart said...

I never watch the Neely's or McCargo, so I can't comment on them, but I do watch Paula now and then. I can only say that I am absolutely convinced that the bawdy Southern mama with a naughty twinkle in her eye IS her true personality. I think it's more likely she was holding that back in her earlier shows! Paula's Party is a nighttime show, and I think Gordon told her she should just be herself. Paula didn't come from any blueblood roots, y'know. She's just plain folks.

My mother's side of the family is from the south, and most of the women are like that. They care a lot about propriety and having their hair looking just so, but just when you least expect it, they pepper the conversation with some raunchy, blue story, and throw back their heads and guffaw! Being rather a sheltered person myself, that sort of thing always scandalized me, but it's just part of their world.

 
At 3/29/2009 6:13 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm with you Rubyheart. I too can only speak about Paula Deen, but I think that Jacob and many of the other people that have commented on this blog need to relax a little bit. I don't know any one person that doesn't have different facets to their personalities that come out under different circumstances. We have all been able to benefit from one part of Paula's personality that reminded us of our grandmother's and now a more outlandish, entertaining part of her personality that is wild and crazy and fun! Butter and all! Gordon Elliot didn't create that aspect of her personality. It was there all along and he was smart enough to let her out of the cage so she could fly. Anybody would be different in their behavior in their own home verses in front of an audience and if a person had an opportunity to do their own show in front of an audience and didn't change once that audience showed up, I would venture to say that that show wouldn't last more than five minutes. And if you want to talk stereotypes, let's talk. Paula Deen has been great for the south. She is open minded. There is not a racist bone in her body and she is absolutely hysterically funny. Don't we all need to laugh more. In fact, the laughter we get from her show, at least in this economic climate as far as I can see, is more important than the recipes. And personally, I think it's refreshing to see a 60 some odd year old woman still feeling sexual and clearly fearless about showing it. And there is not a soul in the world a that could call her stupid. So butter is her signature ingredient. Big deal. She is a wonderful, real, and complete person. That can be intimidating for some people.

 
At 4/18/2009 8:35 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have to work overtime to sell these "people" to the public as legitimate. Even after nearly 40 years they haven't pulled it off properly. Why? Because they are selling a lie.

 
At 6/04/2009 4:33 PM , Blogger Unknown said...

You hit the nail right on the head.

 
At 6/04/2009 5:43 PM , Blogger Unknown said...

Oh, and by the way, why is it that whenever someone criticizes an African American show, they're automatically called racist? yet an African American can freely criticize a "Caucasian" show and yet nothing will be said to them.

I'm black myself, and I find this demeaning to the rest of us.

You people need to grow up and stop trying to bring up some African American slave past that you weren't even involved in yourself. That's like Jewish people going, "White people owe us money and fame because our grandparents were tortured."

GROW UP.

 
At 8/09/2009 2:31 PM , Blogger Jree said...

I agree with your article, and especially that you put the focus on Mr.Elliott's control and direction the shows have taken. I like Paula Deen, Aaron, and the Neeley's. I have noticed the growing changes in format, style (or lack there of) and wondered who was behind it. Food Network, go back to basics! You're losing your viewers.

 
At 9/19/2009 2:53 PM , OpenID Freshwindz said...

I completely agree with you. It saddens me that they feel they need to change people in order for them to be accepted. I like the old Paula, I'm sure the Neely's would be just as good without all the "extra" stuff and the same goes for Aaron. He's too over the top and that's not his natural personality. Shame on Food Network. That's why I don't watch it as often now.

 
At 5/01/2010 12:17 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just came across this blog. Although the last comment was quite a while ago, I wanted to note that I, too, totally agree with your article. Things have not changed. Paula who started with southern charm has turned crass. I stopped watching Paula's Party when she continued to oogle and cackle over all the men in the audience, including some who seemed younger than her own sons. Being the same age as Paula, it made me cringe.

 
At 3/07/2011 11:14 AM , Blogger Betty said...

LOVE THE MCNEELEY'S BUT WISH SHE WOULD CUT OUT ALL THE SILLINESS AND ACTING CHILDISH...

 

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