Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Laws of God, the Laws of Man, or the Laws of Reality-TV Audience Morality: Just Which Laws Did Leah Cohen and Hosea Rosenberg Violate?

The titular question, possums, is one that has long puzzled us.

Indeed, we thought it most peculiar that Hosea’s “apology” to the masses should have begun thus:

First things first: None of us signed any contracts forbidding contact with the other cheftestants. We did not break any rules.

Uh, first things first. Let us state our belief and opinion, based on the text itself, that the Eliot Spitzer-worthy “apology” was overseen by publicists and/or lawyers. Because, of course, when you cheat on your boyfriend or girlfriend, the first concern that comes to mind is whether the cheating was in breach of a legal contract.

Also, notice how no “apology” from Leah was issued under the aegis of Bravo. Ah, those double standards. Of course, as her exit interviews with various publications show, Leah did not take kindly to being portrayed as a clingy Jezebel. But it’s more than that. It’s called damage control and rehabilitation. You will notice, of course, that when the “apology” was issued, on January 23, 2009, Hosea was already guaranteed a spot on the finals, in which he is the best hope of beating Stefan Richter for the title. In this not-so-epic Baldo a Baldo contest, it is Stefan who is supposed to be the villain, not stolid-Mennonite-farmer-from-the-West-cum-skaterboy-led-astray-by-Asian-Jewish-temptress-from-the-big-city-of-New-York Hosea. Indeed, by January 23, the finale had already been filmed in New Orleans, and who knows what, if anything, the “apology” means about who won.

But revenons à nos moutons.

“Hosea” says, “We did not break any rules.”

And yet consider these various bits, possums.

• In August 2007, New York Magazine published a cover story titled, “The Near-Fame Experience of Being a Bravo Reality Star.” The tidbit that grabbed most people’s attention was this: “The contestants on Bravo shows are not allowed money, credit cards, cell phones, newspapers, magazines, televisions, or Internet access….They can’t even have sex with one another to pass the time. (An STD could result in a lawsuit—unlike hookup reality shows, the contestants aren’t tested beforehand for communicable diseases.)”

• The day after publication of the article, Andrew “Raggaydy Andy” Cohen, Bravo Senior VP of Production and Programming, wrote the following on his Bravo blog: “I feel pretty great that under our watch, you ain’t allowed to ‘do it’ with another contestant. We’re not the ‘Real World’ and we’re not checking for STD’s and we’re just not in that game. If Tabs [Shear Design contestant Tabatha] gets herpes from another hairstylist that I helped cast, how am I gonna sleep at night!? Design all the dresses you want, but screw on your own clock. Or sign up to be on ‘Temptation Island’.”

And yet exactly a year later, August 2008, when the New York season of Top Chef is filming, it is no longer against the rules? Is it that, à la Bill Clinton, only penetrative vaginal intercourse is prohibited? (Although remember how coy Wesley Nault and Daniel Feld were on the last season of Project Runway regarding when their romance began and what they did about it while they were on the show?)

Notice, again, the careful wording of the Hosea “apology”: “None of us signed any contracts forbidding contact with the other cheftestants.” Well, “contact” is a little vague, ain’t it? After all, according to The New York Post, Wesley and Daniel “broke show rules by communicating with each other the day after the elimination. Nault passed Feld a note, and Feld gave Nault a silver bracelet.” Ah, well, perhaps swapping spit is better than swapping notes and jewelry.

Possums, it just doesn’t make sense. What continues to irk us, though, is the double standard. To the extent they are guilty of anything, Hosea and Leah are equally guilty. And yet the masses aren't baying for Hosea’s blood. He makes a lame-ass politician’s apology, and goes on his gap-toothed, xenophobic way to the finals, while thousands cheer as the clingy tramp is sent home. ‘T ain’t right, we say. Yes, we know the world was ever so, but come on, this is Bravo, for immorality’s sake.

Perhaps people care so much because this was the first acknowledged romance in the history of Top Chef (although we are intrigued by the rumors we have read of another couple of heterosexual team mates on this season going at it when the camera crews had left for the night; maybe Leah and Hosea were just unlucky in getting caught by the cameras). Even so, Leahosea can’t hold a candle to the seething, roiling, head-shaving, watersporting, self-hating, homoerotic folie à deux that was Marcilan (the Marcel Vigneron-Ilan Hall pairing in Season 2, which was to Jean Genet as Cruel Intentions is to Dangerous Liaisons, or 10 Things I Hate About You is to The Taming of the Shrew).


Anonymous said...

Who cares.

Anonymous said...

Actually I care as I have no life.

I haven't heard of any second romance rumors, but my money is on Jeff and Radhika. They seemed to have something going if you look at the extra footage tapes.

Anonymous said...

My money is also on Jeff and Radhika..

Anonymous said...

I just want to say Thank God someone else acknowledges the Marcel/Ilan thing.

Anonymous said...

So, uh, care to share who the rumored possible couples are?

Anonymous said...

does the "apology" infer that hosea won and therefore the powers that be required pre-finale damage control?

also, if the reunion show already taped, why is the fan favorite contest still open?


Jeni said...

Actually, I had a different interpretation of the "no contact" line... I was assuming it was along the lines of Cliff and Marcel in season 2, i.e., that no contestant shall have physical contact with another contestant. Even if that's the case, why would they make season 1-4 sign a clause like that and not season 5? Especially after seeing what happened in season 2. Either way, it makes no sense.

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