Possums, as part of our analysis of Leah Cohen’s tenure on Top Chef, we were particularly intrigued by a statement she made during an interview with our pals at The Feedbag:
I didn’t want to be on the show anymore. Especially after the night before Restaurant Wars. They told me they had footage of Hosea and I [sic]. That had happened before that. Why would they tell me that right before restaurant wars? At that point I just felt like Bravo’s little puppet.
But…but…but on the show it looked like the marathon make-out session took place the night before Restaurant Wars. And here Leah is saying that it happened before that. Surely the Bravo editors wouldn’t deceive us or fiddle with the timeline of events? No, impossible!
This was definitely a job for Wayward & Biatchstein.
To the tape, possums.
Take a good look at the photo below. According to the chronology of the episode as aired, it depicts the night before Restaurant Wars. As you can see, Leah is wearing a short-sleeved white t-shirt and Hosea is wearing a red t-shirt. An unkempt, tired-looking and -sounding Leah says to Hosea that she is going to sleep.
What’s this? Leah’s hair is no longer Medusa-like, and she is now sporting a white tanktop, and Hosea is fully dressed and sporting a white t-shirt. So, if you are to believe the chronology of the episode as aired, Hosea changed his clothes, and the half-asleep Leah changed her clothes and combed her hair, just for the purpose of making out secretly on the couch.
But hark! Here is the red t-shirt again, and what is Hosea saying in his interview while he sports said shirt? “Last night, Leah and I are sitting on the couch for probably two hours, and we ended up kissing” (emphasis added).
Again, if you are to believe the chronology of the episode as aired, you have to believe that Hosea started out the night in the red t-shirt, then changed into jeans and a white t-shirt just to make out with Leah, and then changed back into the red t-shirt the next day to say they kissed “last night.” Uh-huh, yeah.
As Miss XaXa put it, “Not hardly likely.”
In our opinion, it looks like Leah was telling the truth, and that the make-out session did not take place the night before Restaurant Wars.
In our theoretical “red shirt” timeline, the make-out session likely took place the night that Ariane Duarte was ousted for butchering the lamb on the “Down on the Farm” episode. Indeed, if you pay attention to what Hosea says during the interview bits where he wears the red shirt, he refers only to events that took place during the “Down on the Farm” episode and during the first day of the “Restaurant Wars,” e.g., the Quickfire Challenge judged by Stephen Starr. This supports the theory that Hosea’s interview took place the evening of the first Restaurant Wars day, after the Starr challenge.
Thus, our “red shirt” timeline goes something like this:
Day A: The cheftestants travel to Stone Barns and prepare lunch for the farmers. They return to New York in the afternoon, and during Judges’ Table Ariane is pykagged. As Leah told TVGuide.com, the camera people “usually leave when everyone is going to sleep.” And that night, after Ariane’s ouster, thinking the cameras had gone, she and Hosea had their make-out session on the couch (without, of course, taking their body mikes off).
Day B: No apparent remorse following the make-out session. Stephen Starr Quickfire Challenge; Leah selected as head of one of Restaurant Wars teams, hugs Hosea following positive verdict from Starr; go shopping at Pier One; return to apartment; production staff inform them of make-out footage from previous night; Hosea, wearing red shirt, talks about their kissing “last night”; Hosea and distraught Leah go over menu for next day’s Restaurant Wars.
Day C: Restaurant Wars; demoralized Leah.
Well, you may say, possums, so what? So you spent hours reviewing the episode footage and trying to figure this out, but what difference does it make?
Leah, it seems to us, casts this as a dark plot to demoralize and manipulate her (and possibly the outcome of Restaurant Wars): “Why would they tell me that right before restaurant wars? At that point I just felt like Bravo’s little puppet.”
We wouldn’t go that far. We think, though, that the real sequence of events casts a different light on Leah and Hosea’s behavior. The episode is edited to suggest, if not outright state, that Leah and Hosea were, to quote Fabio, “een a sheetee mood” on the day of Restaurant Wars itself because of morning-after remorse and regret on account of their make-out session, and that such remorse affected their performance during Restaurant Wars. It’s a much more moralistic gloss, immoral cheaters undermined by the realization of their own immorality (and, we have argued and will argue elsewhere, plays into a storyline about Leah as some sort of temptress leading stolid Hosea astray).
But look at this image from the Quickfire Challenge, which took place the morning after the make-out session (or even earlier, if the make-out session occurred before Ariane’s ouster).
Does it look like these are two people in the throes of remorse for having, in Leah’s words, “cheated” on their significant others? Again, not hardly likely.
However, if Leah’s version of events is correct, then her bad mood during Restaurant Wars was due not to natural morning-after regret, but to the fact of having been told by producers, “Gotcha!” The “love birds,” as Ariane described them, thought no one had seen their encounter, and they were wrong. Her remorse, and Hosea’s remorse, and the attendant “sheetee mood,” were a product of discovery, a realization that their encounter would be televised, and would have consequences.
We were rooting for Radhika Desai’s team, and we’ll certainly never know, but perhaps Leah’s team would have performed better had this not come into play.