Talk About a TV Dinner!

If you are or ever were a Food Network viewer you’ve surely noticed how the channel has steadily moved away from shows that teach cooking to shows that simply show cooking. That’s deliberate and based on their discovery that viewers don’t want to learn to cook as much as they want to watch people cook. The latter seems to fill a deep-seated human need in a day and age where there’s less and less cooking. And while I miss those old Food Network shows I can’t fault them for catering to their audiences. If cooking voyeurism is what brings in the viewers and viewership is what keeps the lights on, then who am I to complain about it?

Now it seems the South Koreans have taken the basic idea a step further with eating voyeurism. That is, live streaming internet TV shows where people simply watch other people eat. As strange as that sounds it also makes a certain kind of sense. People are not only cooking less, they’re eating together less, so not only do we not get to see food being prepared as much as we used to, we don’t get to see it being enjoyed as much either. That is apparently a deep-seated human need too, at least in South Korea. Very, very interesting. Thanks to Vocativ for the hat tip!

27 thoughts on “Talk About a TV Dinner!”

  1. Well I can blame them! Fie on people who didn’t appreciate Sara Moulton!!!

    I know that you’re right that it won’t do me much good. And I really have moved on. I don’t even think about the Food Network anymore but it does feel good to shoot them a big ole hatpin in my mental voodoo doll.

    1. I’m with you a lot of the time, Rainey. I liked learning about cooking. Pretty people stirring pots is OK, but I prefer a real lesson!

      Which I guess is why I do this blog…

      – Joe

  2. I used to LIVE on the Food Channel some years ago because I was apparently in the minority and really liked to watch and learn about cooking. The more basic the show was the more I liked it. The ones I liked the least were the ones that were more about the drama of contests or more about “presence” than the food. Don’t get me started on how fed up I got with them and stopped watching after they got into the hype and product selling and “drama” of the shows instead of cooking. And the “macho” mentality when they felt the channel needed to appeal to men more and started having shows that were more about grunting and showing the muscle side of cooking vs. the art of it. HA Yes, I was one fed up and annoyed watcher and they lost me. I’m glad they discovered those of us who actually got pleasure out of learning how to cook and bake and even the shows about travel and interesting foods globally were so worthless as viewers that we were expendable. 🙂

    Fascinating about the new voyeurism. I would be even LESS interested in that than all the drama and book/pan merchandising that FoodTV went with. But, I’m sure there are viewers just like there are for reality shows which I NEVER liked or understood what people watch them for back to the original ones. Now I don’t even watch TV but stream shows to avoid wasting $$ on cable or satellite feeds and I pick what I want to watch. HA

  3. Its not bad enough that they only show cooking but they have a collection of some of the biggest . . . jerks, yeah let’s settle for that word . . . there to pretend to cook.
    We all know they have a staff to do all the prep and clean up and, very often, most of the work so that anyone could be up there as long as they could keep their finger out of their nose while on camera. They should just hire some actual actors & write decent dialog for them.

    1. And here I was trying to be diplomatic. What to say but thanks for sharing, Frankly! 😉

      – Joe

    1. Kinda my reaction as well, CfDU. I suppose I shouldn’t knock it ’till I’ve tried it. But…yeah.

      – J

  4. You’ve definitely struck a nerve! I have not watched the food network for quite some time. I much prefer watching the PBS cooking shows where they still do teach you something. Julie & Jacques aahhhh.

    1. PBS has shaped my culinary life. From Julia and Jacques, to The Frugal Gourmet, Rick Bayless (his restaurant redefined Mexican food for me), Lidia (I get to see her in person tomorrow at Eatily Chicago), Christopher K., Andreas Viestad my favorite Norwegian, Jacques Torres and the short lived Dessert Circus.

      Maybe we can get a petition to get Joe on the air!

      1. I have a great face for radio, Johann, maybe I can do that instead.


        – Joe

    2. Those Julie and Jacques shows are the greatest, I agree. I love Jacques solo “Fast Food My Way” ones as well.

      Thanks, Janet!

      – Joe

  5. There are still a few instructional Food Network shows airing in the daytime, but even those are packed full of contrived story lines to try to appeal to a broader demographic than just the people who want to learn more about cooking. I understand the marketing objective, but it’s still frustrating.

    The nighttime competition shows have just become a circus bordering on freakshow.

    I echo the sentiment that the PBS shows are the best TV resource we have now.

    1. Yeah food has entered into a totally different realm on cable these days. I have no idea what to even call a lot of those reality shows. I guess just reality shows with food as the excuse. Thanks for the comment!

      – Joe

      1. At the dawn of cable it was proposed that it would spring forth a thousand different niche shows because the low cost to deliver would allow the producers to make money with small audiences. Which may have been true enough to start but everyone wants more money and the path to that is the lowest common denominator. W are not that far from “The House Cooks Of New Jersey” and “Here Cooks Honey Boo-boo”.

        1. Well so much for the Honey Boo Boo pilot I was planning to produce for next season. You blew it for me. Thanks a lot, Frankly.

          – Joe

  6. On some cable networks the PBS cooking, travel, and craft shows come bundled together on a network called “Create”. There you can find Jack Pepin, Julia, Sarah Moulton, America’s Test Kitchen, and many others including Martha Stewart, all of them actually cooking! Almost the only channel I watch.

    1. I haven’t seen that one to my knowledge, Tereza. But I’ll have a look at my cable package. Thanks!

      – Joe

      1. You can get the Create channel over the airwaves in Chicago. Ever since they started broadcasting in digital there are 4 channel 11s. One of which is the create channel.

        1. I’ll have to take a look and see what Louisville is capable of!


          – Joe

  7. I drifted away from the Food Network when they started exchanging technique for cleavage. I can look in the mirror and get cleavage.

    1. Too many more profiteroles and I’ll be in the same position, Cactus. Thanks for the comment!

      – Joe

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