Follow us
Mobile
Pin It

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Why do the black shows on the Food Network suck ass?

Posted By on Sun, Mar 29, 2009 at 10:55 AM

click to enlarge aaron-mccargo-jr_episod-7_s3x4_lg-225x300.jpg

It’s always amazed me that while food is one of the major cornerstones of African-American culture, the Food Network — the cable channel dedicated to all things food — can’t seem to produce a decent black-hosted show for its programming lineup.

Specifically, I’m talking about the shows Big Daddy’s House, Cooking for Real, and Down Home With the Neelys. I’ve watched all three programs numerous times and they honestly suck ass — especially compared to other more successful shows on the network.

So why don’t the shows work? Well it ain’t because they’re hosted by black people. Although the fact that they suck probably does not bode well for black-hosted shows in the future. I can just hear some idiotic programming director at a TV network saying, “Well those shows didn’t work. Audiences don’t want to see black people cooking.”

Anyway, the Food Network’s black shows fail for two main reasons: lack of personality and lack of focus.

Let’s take Big Daddy’s House. The host, Aaron McCargo Jr., is a likeable enough guy (He’s the winner of the network’s Top Chef-ish cooking show.) and he seems like he can cook, but what is this show about? One day he’s cooking sloppy joes the next he’s making a “healthy scallop supper.” Look at other Food Network shows like Everyday Italian, Semi-Homemade … hell, even 30 Minute Meals, and the focus of the show is evident from the title. The best cooking shows — from Julia Child days until now — are hosted by cooks with a singular vision. Big Daddy’s House, however, is all over the place.

When we turn the spotlight to Cooking for Real, you find a show that lacks focus and personality. The show is hosted by Sunny Anderson; she seems like a really nice person but is just devoid of any interesting personality traits. Even her clothes are drab and nondescript. On top of that, her dishes (like on Big Daddy’s House) seem haphazardly pulled together. I’m sure she can cook all types of food, but that doesn’t make for the best television.

Now, moving on to Down Home With the Neelys, I’ve gotta admit that the show actually defies both of my gripes. The show has a focus — barbecue (everything) — and it has personality. But here’s the thing, I don’t really like the hosts’ personalities. The show is helmed by the married couple Pat and Gina Neely, and the two kiss and whisper sweet nothings to each other throughout each episode. Cook dammit! As far as the food is concerned, all they cook is barbecue … and I ain’t talkin’ grilled, I mean barcbecue. As in smoked. As in pork. Lots of pork. This is definitely not a show for vegetarians or Muslims. Once, I saw them make barbecue spaghetti. That ain’t black … that’s ghetto. What’s next? Ramen noodles? With barbecue sauce?!

All that said, there are a few decent black cooking shows on TV, but they aren’t on the Food Network. One halfway-decent show is Urban Cuisine, which airs on BETJ (that’s not on basic cable). Urban Cuisine is hosted by Harlem-based chef Marcus Samulesson, who’s of Ethiopian descent. And although the production values are poor, the food on the show is diverse but still manages to stay focused on the richness of black culture … and that means soul food from America, African cuisines, Caribbean vittles and more. Tune in.

Tags: , , , , ,

  • Pin It

Comments (33)

Showing 1-33 of 33

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-33 of 33

Add a comment

Creative Loafing encourages a healthy discussion on its website from all sides of the conversation, but we reserve the right to delete any comments that detract from that. Violence, racism and personal attacks that go beyond the pale will not be tolerated.

Latest in Eat My Charlotte

More by Carlton Hargro

Search Events

Recent Comments

www.flickr.com
items in Creative Loafing Charlotte More in Creative Loafing Charlotte pool

© 2014 Womack Newspapers, Inc.
Powered by Foundation