Tag Archives: Bravo TV

Tsk Tsk, Kathy Griffin

Curmudgeon though he may be, The Curmudgeon has never been fond of comedians whose stock in trade is belittling other people.  He’s never had anything less than contempt, for example, for Don Rickles, and he has no use for some of those people who only seem to work on Comedy Central roasts.  (By the way, when you watched those old Dean Martin roasts, didn’t you always get the impression that the roasters were roasting people they knew – and knew well?  And when you watch a Comedy Central roast, don’t you get the impression that the roasters are roasting people they don’t know and only just met?  And isn’t the latter a whole lot nastier than the former?)

For this reason, The Curmudgeon has never been too keen on Kathy Griffin.  He suspects that she could probably be pretty funny but has very limited patience for someone whose humor always seems to come by denigrating others.

Late last week The Curmudgeon was channel-surfing and came upon Ms. Griffin performing the monologue for her new program; only a network like Bravo and a person like Andy Cohen would give this misanthrope her own show.  Anyhow, Ms. Griffin was talking about being at a restaurant where she saw three celebrities dining together:  Denzel Washington, Mekhi Phifer, and Jaleel White; the latter is television’s “Urkel” character.

Ms. Griffin simply could not believe that a big star like Denzel Washington could possibly be socializing with someone of such lower status like White/Urkel.

The Curmudgeon has witnessed this kind of warped thinking before.  In particular, he recalls hearing more than one person ridicule the coupling of Barbra Streisand and James Brolin.  What could a star of the magnitude of Streisand possibly see in a second-rate actor like Brolin, they ask.  Well, aside from Brolin being better-looking than any man has a right to be, what does their talent have to do with their relationship?  Why should Griffin assume that because they operate on different levels within their field of endeavor, Washington and White/Urkel could not possibly have anything in common that would constitute the basis for a friendship?  Might they not come from the same hometown, live in the same community, send their kids to the same schools, support the same causes, attend the same church, or just like hanging out with one another?

Are these critics of the relationships of others suggesting that we should pick our friends or mates based on their talent or their level of accomplishment in their chosen fields?  Maybe The Curmudgeon has had it all wrong all these years, looking for someone with whom he is compatible, someone with whom he shares interests and values, someone who is kind and warm and intelligent and compassionate and good-humored?  Maybe he should have been focusing on people who have roughly the same level of skill in manipulating nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and the occasional preposition or someone who runs around her backhand like The Curmudgeon does or even someone who has a similar figure in box number one on her W-2 form.

Maybe not.  Maybe Kathy Griffin is just an idiot.  Maybe Kathy Griffin should reflect that she probably has friends in the entertainment business and that by her own standards, they are the ones slumming by having a relationship with her.

It probably won’t happen.  People who make a living belittling others probably lack the capacity for self-reflection needed to recognize that conducting themselves this way is simply wrong.  If Kathy Griffin had such a capacity, she probably would have chosen to pursue her career in a manner that doesn’t require her success to come at the expense of others.

Mini-Rumination: Bravo TV Does it Again

Bravo TV has found the formula for success in reality television:  develop a premise – any premise will do, it’s not the premise that really matters – find the most obnoxious people you can, insert the obnoxious people into the premise, and let the fireworks begin.  Ratings success.

The premise is irrelevant; even a monkey could develop the premise.  It appears that the monkey, in this case, is Bravo’s Andy Cohen.  How could he not be the guy in charge?  Who else would put someone like him on television?

And now, Bravo has done it again.  Cohen – or whomever else – has outdone himself this time:  the casts of Million Dollar Listing New York and Shahs of Sunset are replete with some of the most repulsive people ever to appear on television.  Some of these characters make Nene look like a class act; they make Joe Giudice seem like someone you’d like as your neighbor; they make that dweeb Brad from It’s a Brad Brad World seem like someone you’d like to babysit for your kids; they make Jeff Lewis seem like someone you wouldn’t want to bludgeon with a baseball bat; they make Jill Zarin seem like…like… a nice person.

Mini Rumination: Bethenny Never After

The Curmudgeon has discovered that one of the best ways to get his creaky, aging body through the day is to begin that day with some stretching, so before work every morning he spends about fifteen minutes on his living room floor, mildly stretching what pass for muscles.

Stretching is pretty boring, so he turns on the television.  The pickings are pretty slim at that time of day, especially since The Curmudgeon has no use for the morning talking heads of Today, Good Morning America, or whatever CBS is calling its morning program that no one watches.  Sometimes there’s Saved by the Bell (plot hint:  Zack has a scheme) or Law and Order, but for fifteen minutes, usually something on E Entertainment or Bravo will do; The Curmudgeon is particularly fond of watching Tabatha try to teach basic business practices to the kind of people you know not only didn’t take school seriously but also made fun of those of us who did.

One day last week, though, it was Bethenny Ever After, the centerpiece of which is Bethenny Frankel, a graduate of The Real Housewives of New York.  The Curmudgeon is not a regular viewer of these silly programs – he views most of what he sees from the prone position, while stretching – but he is familiar with Ms. Frankel and let us just say that in his opinion, her behavior too often falls short of even qualifying as “human.”

In this particular episode, Bethenny and her husband Jason – a seemingly nice guy who deserves much, much better – are apparently on their shrink’s boat for a combination pleasure trip/extended marriage counseling session.  As a boat’s captain, the shrink seems to be a little out of his element.  Bethenny’s husband is seasick and alternately heaving over the side of the boat and trying to ride out his nausea in bed.

Discussing the challenges she’s facing in her marriage, Bethenny tells Gilligan, er, her shrink – and The Curmudgeon is paraphrasing here – “I feel like when I’m with Jason, I’m trying to be something I’m not.”

Anyone who has seen more than few minutes of The Real Housewives of New York or any of Bethenny’s own series immediately knows the answer to this problem.  What’s Bethenny trying to be in her relationship that’s she’s not in real life?

Isn’t it obvious?

She’s trying to be nice.

“Top Chef” Jumps the Shark

As it grows long in the tooth, “Top Chef” apparently feels a need to develop more “creative” ways to challenge its chef/contestants.  The Curmudgeon specifically puts “creative” in quotation marks because more and more, “creative” has come to mean “stupid” for a program broadcast by a cable network that is increasingly cornering the market on stupid.

But this year, it appears Bravo and “Top Chef” have gone too far even for them.

A few weeks ago, chef/contestants had to ride around on children’s bicycles, beg for food, and ask people if they could cook in their kitchens – all for the privilege of being judged by Pee-Wee Herman, that noted expert on all things culinary.

Then, last week, with the last step toward the grand prize of $125,000 at stake, the four remaining contestants had to cook in three separate mini-competitions:  first, they cooked in a moving, swaying, unheated gondola hundreds of feet above the ground; next, they chopped frozen ingredients out of massive blocks of ice and then cooked them; and finally, they had to ski and then shoot guns at targets to select the food they then cooked.  None were serious tests of cooking skills.

“Top Chef” has always had a penchant for stupid cooking stunts, but until recently, that stupidity was limited to the less serious competitions – the “quickfires” – in which the losers are gently criticized but not kicked out of the competition because of their failures.  The stakes are minimal, so there was no harm to the stupidity except to illustrate the cupidity of the contestants:  that there was no limit to their willingness to debase themselves in their quest for money and fame.

But things took a turn for the worse last season when chef/contestants were forced to swim in a lagoon of some sort to catch the food they were to cook.  The Curmudgeon – overly optimistic, in hindsight – wrote that off as a one-time aberration.

The Curmudgeon was wrong (and people who know The Curmudgeon know how seldom he admits this).  With last week’s antics, “Top Chef” has finally jumped the shark.  It’s shown enormous disrespect for its chef/contestants and it’s shown enormous disrespect for its audience.

The Curmudgeon understands why host/model Padma Lakshmi stands by while this all goes on; she has no talent yet an appetite for stardom, so she has no choice.  Ditto Gail Simmons, who seemed to have a secure place in the food world but appears to have been bitten by the fame bug as well.  But how does one explain the tacit approval of Tom Colicchio?  Colicchio is renowned as a great chef, although The Curmudgeon has yet to encounter anyone who has eaten his food or even seen him cook (other than a three-minute demonstration on “Top Chef”), so one has to wonder why he goes along with all of this (although, as an executive producer of “Top Chef,” his mute acquiescence may be more a matter of complicity than of compliance).  He has debased himself and tarnished the high regard in which many people seem hold him, despite the apparent lack of any reason for doing so, by participating in this foolishness.  Colicchio may be highly respected in some circles, but The Curmudgeon no longer sees any reason not to lump him into a peer group with the real housewives, the Jersey shore gang, the women who chase hogs, and Dog, the bounty hunter.

There’s only one thing to do when a program has jumped the shark as seriously as “Top Chef” has:  stop watching.

And that’s exactly what The Curmudgeon intends to do.


(Special thanks to loyal Four-Eyed Curmudgeon reader “Peaches Shimmerdeep,” who contributed some of the key ideas expressed in this post.)

Mini-Rumination: Woe is the Food Network

How bitter a pill must it be for the people at the Food Network that Bravo’s “Top Chef” is the most popular cooking program on television?