A hairy situation
The defining moment of the season came a few weeks ago when some of the remaining five competitors decided, after a night of drinking, to shave their own heads, and then shave Marcel's. At least, that's what viewers saw. After Ilan and Elia shaved their heads, Cliff woke Marcel, and as Ilan cheered him on, wrestled Marcel to the ground and held him in a headlock. As a result, Cliff was sent home for violating the show's rules.
That wasn't quite what happened, however. Careful viewers noticed that, in one of those scenes, Elia still had all of her hair, and was on the floor laughing as Marcel angrily stormed off. In other words, she and Ilan shaved their heads only after their attempted hazing of Marcel went awry. Editing the scene out of order seemed designed to protect the show's integrity, which was waning episode by episode as interpersonal conflict took over.
After the incident, the producers refused to allow head judge Colicchio to dismiss all four participants, like he wanted to do, and thus let Marcel win the competition by default. On his BravoTV.com blog, Tom wrote that "[p]roducers stepped in with a veto. Sending all of the chefs but Marcel home wasn't going to happen."
Of course, the departure of those four contestants would have prematurely ended the series on a low note. But it would have also been a fitting note, as the competition and cooking often fell away in favor of "Real World"-style immaturity and unnecessary drama packed with deceptive editing.
Less about food, more about drama
In its second season, "Top Chef" became more of a soap opera set on a reality show than a competition about cooking. Otto quit the competition after admitting to have taken food from a store that his team didn't pay for, although he did return it. Mia quit to save Elia from elimination. Michael used his budget for one challenge to buy beer for himself. All the chefs were spared elimination but put on probation after accusations of cheating during a challenge. Cliff was sent home for his part in hazing Marcel. Betty fought with Marcel. Frank fought with Marcel. Ilan screamed at Marcel. Elia accused Marcel of cheating but offered no evidence.
Thursday, February 01, 2007
In a a surprising move reminiscent of Jim Carrey hitting himself in Liar, Liar (a Universal Pictures production), MSNBC, a subsidiary of NBC Universal, the parent company of Bravo, published a scathing online article today about Top Chef. You can read the article here, but we include some cherce bits for your delectation: