Yesterday’s post on cake and television really seemed to pop the cap on a lot of pent-up frustration with the Food Network. I received a variety of complaints, about everything from their seeming lack of interest in teaching people about how to cook anymore, to what some see as pervasive testing problems with their recipes. I can’t speak to all of that, save for the fact that if you keep abreast of the happenings of the Food Network in the entertainment press (which I occasionally do), you know that they’ve been moving away from their original “cooking instruction” model for many years now, toward more “entertainment” programming that happens to be based on food. It’s hard for me to blame them very much for that, since at the end of the day they’re really in the entertainment business. They have to gravitate to what the biggest portion of their audience demands.
So they’re phasing out cooking shows then? No, not at all, since their audience wants them. But if most of their audience isn’t interested in learning to cook…isn’t that contradictory? Actually no, since what appears to be the case is that what their audiences want most is to witness food being prepared. Interesting, no? It seems that deep down, many of us have a yearning to watch food being made. The less we see it at home (and let’s face it, most of us are seeing it less and less), the more we seek to satisfy that need through television. And if the people preparing that food on television happen to be very attractive and/or entertaining, so much the better. It’s a slightly depressing idea when you think about it, though at least for now it seems to be driving what’s going on at the Food Network.
Personally I’m not all that concerned about it. There are a lot of other bloggers out there who do a much better job of following and critiquing of the Food Neetwork (I satisfy myself with an occasional tweaking, just for fun). If that’s they way they want to run their network, it’s OK by me. Personally, I don’t think there’s been a real cooking show on television since The French Chef went off the air.