10. Top Chef: Just Desserts (Tuesdays @ 9pm on Bravo)
Welcome to the top 10 folks! And fresh off our testosterone-driven spots 11-15, which included both Blue Mountain State and The League, I’m coming back all the way around with a little something for the ladies here…Top Chef: Just Desserts.
The Top Chef franchise has become a staple in my viewing rotation. It has essentially turned into a CSI/SVU-type juggernaut where there are seemingly 47 different iterations of the show and there always seems to be a new season of Top Chef running (and by seems, I mean is) ….and I am completely fine with that. The great thing about this show is that unlike some of the other bastardized franchises (e.g. CSI, CSI:New York, CSI:Miami, CSI:Butte), there hasn’t been any fall off in any of their executions.
The only “problem” with Top Chef is that it has ruined me for other competitive cooking shows. The talent level on this show so far exceeds that of its’ competitors that it has turned me into a complete cooking competition show snob. I can’t watch anything like Chopped or Hell’s Kitchen for more than a few minutes without becoming insulted as to the lack of chefmanship on these shows (see…this show has me using words like chefmanship). I’ll still go with an Iron Chef when it’s on, but only the original one with subtitles, and that’s more for the unintentional comedy brought on by the bad translations and ridiculously inane ingredients than for the cooking or competition.
If this show was in a cooking version instead of a baking version right now it might actually be a spot of two higher since then that would mean I’d get to look at Padma for the better part of an hour…and that’s only going to help things (Aaaand back to testosterone. Sorry ladies).
9. Parenthood (Tuesdays @ 10pm on NBC)
It’s as if NBC is conspiring to start up the annual “NBC to cancel Parenthood” rumors even earlier than usual this year. Last season was really solid and if you had asked me about this show prior to last week’s season premiere, it probably would have been up a few spots higher. But that’s how troubling I found the introduction of the story line featuring Alex’s pending trial and incarceration to be.
I mean, I just can’t wait for Haddy’s Aunt Julia to take on the case (despite the fact that she has now criminal litigation background), and Alex to break up with and cut off Haddy for her own sake, and Adam to somehow catch wind of all this and come to Alex’s rescue with Zeke in a season finale “you can’t afford to miss”. It should really be surprising and compelling TV!!! (where’s the sarcasm button on this thing?)
8. Blue Bloods (Fridays @ 10pm on CBS)
I can’t really explain why I like this show.
First of all, it’s a “cop show”, which I find to be somewhat boiler plate in that there’s a formula of sorts, and they generally stick around for a while just because while they’re not great, they’re not all that bad either. Law & Order (all 47 variations of it), CSI (all 32 variations of it), even NCIS (not cops per se, but military police-ish)….they would all be shows that I think of when I think of “cop shows”.
Secondly, there’s a serious writing flaw in this show. And that would be that every single major crime that happens in New York City, is handled by every single member of the Reagan family, every single time. In the family there’s a Chief of Police, a DA, a detective, a PO walking the beat, and they all play a role in every case. Hell, even the retired cop patriarch of the family finds his way into waaaay too many of these investigations to not want to call bullshit.
But I don’t call bullshit, I just keep watching. Because, while it might not make the most sense, I just like this show. I like the characters. I like Tom Selleck. And yes, I like Donnie Wahlberg (I have ever since he played Lipton on Band of Brothers). I guess that, coupled with the fact that it’s part of a borderline fool-proof genre, and you have yourself a pretty damn watchable TV show.
7. Real Housewives of New Jersey (Sundays @10pm on Bravo)
I am not one who blindly subscribes to any and all iterations of this franchise. I pick and choose my housewife spots. I believe there is a very simple formula for these shows. The key to a watchable Housewives show is that you must have one cast member who is EXTREMELY likable. If I hate the entire cast, I hate the show.
Bevery Hills. Hate them all. Atlanta. Hate. I used to like OC, but then Gina went and got all bat shit crazy, so even that one is questionable now. But not Jersey. Jersey is TV gold. The Joe vs. Joe brawl. Gold. Ashley vs. Jacqueline. Gold. Melissa singing On Display. Gold to the gazillionth power. Yet despite all of that, it’s Caroline and the rest of the Manzo’s that make this show watchable. She is the steady voice of reason that helps slow down the rest of the cast’s downward spiral into the bowels of hell. Call it a Jersey bias, but I love Caroline and I love this show.
6. Jersey Shore (Thursdays @ 10pm on MTV)
And speaking of Jersey….you had to know this one was coming. Bitch and moan all you’d like, but you know you love this show. It’s literally impossible not to. The only thing that frustrates me about this show is that I didn’t think of it first. Contrary to the beliefs of those in the 49 other states, the guido phenomenon is not a new one. If you were with me at the 1992 Bergen Catholic Senior Prom after-party in Seaside Heights, you would know that this segment of our society has been alive and kicking for the better part of 20 years now.
With that being said, I know there are very vocal portions of the Italian-American population arguing that this show is an abomination and that it sets back our people two generations. As an Italian-American myself, I would agree that it is an abomination (and I mean that as a compliment and that is why it is almost cracking the top 5 of my pre-season poll), but this does nothing for the image of Italian-Americans. The Jersey Shore kids are SO absurd that it’s impossible to take them seriously. It’s almost as if guidos (or the exaggerated guidos they portray) are another species. They’re not human let alone Italian-Americans.
I would argue that Buddy from Cake Boss is 100 times more offense to Italian-Americans. He is essentially a bad I-talian stereotype from some 60’s sitcom. The problem is that middle America takes him seriously. Because of his show, they must think that we’re all constantly yelling “Oooooooh” and screaming at our sisters and mothers. To the contrary, I would hope they’d be able to infer that the large majority of Italian-Americans are not GTL-ing or FPC-ing. I would hope.
The bottom line is that this show is chock full of insanity every week (which is obviously good). I am always a little sad (I don’t even think I’m exaggerating there) when the last screen title comes on and you know you’re entering the last segment before it’s over. Plus, any Italian-American who still sits down to Sunday dinner every week is OK in my book.