Hello. My name is Laura. You might know me from my Bachelor/Bachelorette write-ups. Perhaps not. Let me start by letting you guys know that I don’t pretend to know anything about cooking or food. For that stuff, you’ll have to look to our experts. Proper reviews are here and here.
But here’s what I do know: reality television. And you know how I knew that Ms. Beck wasn’t going to come out a winner here? The program airs on Oxygen, a channel that specializes in making women look, um.., less than great. America’s Next Top Model, Bad Girl’s Club, and Snapped–a fun 30-minute program that has but one plot: women go nuts and kill people—run almost non-stop on this channel. It makes little difference that The Naughty Kitchen apparently has the same producers as Ace of Cakes because those very producers have thrown out virtually every good thing about the relatively chill Ace. Naughty is too long (an hour), too frenetic (How many times do they need to cut away to a shot of a cocktail? We get it! Central 214 has a bar, too!), and too contrived (Fascinating that everyone in town, including Beck’s hairstylist, has intel that The Dallas Morning News has done a review before it’s even come out!) Let’s jump for more analysis.
We start with a montage that includes that terrible line that I’ve heard too many times already: “When you eat my food, you’re not being bad. You’re just being a little bit naughty.” We see the Dallas skyline; we see Beck doing an interview on FM 97.7 The Beat; we see some early press (Was that Modern Luxury?); and we see Beck ready to rule the world. “I’m on a mission for total culinary world domination,” she says in her deep, raspy voice. (Seriously, she has a one-of-a-kind voice. Like, if she ever feels compelled to prank call an ex, she shouldn’t. That person will know who it is as soon as she says, “I don’t heart you.” For a variety of reasons, I guess.)
So it’s two days before her big debut party at the Palomar’s Central 214. The restaurant is packed. Beck tells us, “The face of chefs are changing…My sexy New American cuisine is made with beer and bacon and lots of love.” And lest you think that this last ingredient isn’t just hyperbole, think again. We meet a classy couple who have just finished eating Beck’s creamed corn. “Your cream corn made us cream,” the woman opines. “Twice,” the man seconds. Later, Beck visits with another pair of happy customers. She tells the woman, “You can come back because you heart my food.” To the gentleman she says, “You can come back ’cause I heart you.”
It’s that kind of show, see? Outrageous! Bawdy! Hilarious! Hostesses are called “door whores!” (One wonders if that’s the official title used in Kimpton’s human resources department.) Sam, the cocktail waiter, asks who he has to teabag in order to get a spoon! Blythe isn’t afraid to tell us how much she hates waiters! Save for big, beautiful Calvin for whom she achieves an orgasm when he requests a soup (“extra naughty!”)! It’s way too hot in this kitchen, girlfriend!
Except it’s not. It’s as though the producers came in and said, “OMG! You guys are HILARIOUS. But television makes everything so subtle. If you could swear a lot, maybe yell, and talk more tea-bagging–less trade. And listen, Blythe, I don’t think people are getting the whole ‘naughty’ shtick. You need to use that word more. And do the whole ‘I heart’ thing more. That is gold.'”
Anyway, the plot of the episode is finally revealed: Beck is getting reviewed by the Dallas Morning News. Apparently, this happened right around her coming-out party? Seems strange, but I don’t know if that was editing or the way it actually happened. Anyway, Beck is freaking out. She talks about it to those pesky waiters at work. She laments about it while she does shots at Vickery Park (while drinking with those pesky waiters). She frets about it while getting her hair done. (Luckily, her hairdresser seems to have incredible insight into it all, including about what the reviewer ordered.)
She even presses Dallas Morning News employees about the darn review as she fulfills her wine panel duties. Okay, how weird was this thing? Is it odd that she’s serving on a wine panel for a publication even as they are reviewing her work? Maybe it’s not. And, to be fair, (spoiler alert!) it didn’t seem to help her in the long run. How camera-shy did everyone in that room look? Media training, stat! Because I don’t think the discomfort had anything to do with Beck’s language. I think that was contrived. I have a pot mouth, but I’m not going to opine that a wine tastes like “BLEEP” in front of a Master Sommelier. I suspect she was told to be over-the-top. Here’s why: Beck is a successful professional, right? She can’t act like a kid all the time.
But maybe they were all drunk. Did you notice how purple everyone’s teeth looked?
Anyway, it’s time for the big party. Beck confesses that she’s about to rub shoulders with the big-time locals. “It’s the Highland Park crowd,” she says. “The who’s who. And I’m pushing the envelope with them.” She’s cooking with—wait for it—malt liquor. She says she can’t wait until someone asks if she used such-and-such liquor, and she can say, “No, bitch. It’s malt liquor.” What Beck doesn’t know is that most Parkies sampled malt liquor at the SAE theme party back in the day.
Moving on, Beck is still a nervous wreck about the upcoming review, so she and general manager Megan decide to get some treatments at Exhale The Spa at the Stoneleigh. Please explain.
Finally, the review comes out, and it’s not good. Beck gets two stars and hurt feelings. Apparently, the reviewer doesn’t get—nor dig—her shtick.
And at this point, I feel the same way about this show. I don’t know her, but one can’t imagine that this is the program that Beck—or her bosses at Kimpton, for that matter—thought she signed on for. I want to heart her. I hope for her sake —and ours—things get better.