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Apr 10, 2008 04:33 PM

The Food Network: Has it lost its relevance . . .

replaced by food sites like CHOWHOUND, where the content is in sync with what people are eating . . . experiencing . . . and how we are socializing?

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  1. food network lost it's relevance when it dumbed itself down. It used to be a channel for foodies, now its a channel for the busy housewife/husband

    22 Replies
    1. re: thew

      Do you remember when that happened?

        1. re: Phaedrus

          Actually, when I was watching Chefography yesterday (the one about the history of the Food Network), I think it was Rachel Ray who was the pivot.

          1. re: Phaedrus

            For me the tipping point was when Rachel Ray started getting more and more shows which were then repeated on a seemingly continuous loop.

          2. re: MaduraGirl

            When they stopped airing shows like "Two Fat Ladies," "Taste," and "East Meets West," IMO.

            1. re: MaduraGirl

              I've been watching Food Channel almost since it's inception. David Rosengarten, East Meets West, Darryl (from Delmonico's), Sarah Molton, Justin Wilson, etc.. I feel that the whole thing changed when Emeril Live showed and we saw a pretty good chef being turned into a buffoon. Seems like everyone raved about how new, fresh, funny it was and it was down hill from then on. Heck, even good 'ol AB is starting to get cheeser. IMO, Paula Dean has been turned into a Ya-all mush queen and Rachel Ray reminds me of fingenails on a black board. Before the Chow police slap me down for dinigrating TV hosts, remember, I said they were being "turned into" these things. The writers and directors are more to blame than the principals themselves (IMHO). Two thumbs up for public television.

              1. re: SonyBob

                All true, SonyBob. I imagine AB has no choice but to say 'how high?' when the suits behind the FN say 'jump'.

                Sad, but indicative of the media overall.

                Long live Julia Child.

                1. re: SonyBob

                  Right on Bob! And speaking of television chefs...And unfortunately we'll never see the likes of a Julia Child, Jeff Smith, Justin Wilson, James Beard, Graham Kerr (Galloping Gourmet days), or Jacques P├ępin on FN.

                  1. re: crt

                    Pepin is probably the craziest caricature of a chef personality ever!

                    1. re: Icantread

                      just saw him as a guest on rick bayless' Mexico One Plate at a Time this morning. good stuff, a little corny both guys, but good.

                2. re: MaduraGirl

                  Emeril Live. I have no problem with Emeril but when they over exposed him on his live show and saturated their programing with this one show that was to me the pivoting point.

                  1. re: scubadoo97

                    scub, I gotta agree with you. Emeril and the whole BAM thing got so out of hand...too many much exposure. FN really took a dive after that. Sure there have been one or two interesting chefs/programs but it's all a bit too loud for me these days. Bright lights, wardrobes, crazy sets....where's the food?

                3. re: thew

                  Are you implying that foodies are more relevant than busy housewives/husbands?


                  1. re: paulj

                    Of course! Just kidding. I think this board is comprised mostly of foodies rather than housewives/husbands types. So there seems to be a big hatred of Food Network on this board.

                    I don't hate it but I really don't watch it anymore. I just take what I want from Food Network and would rather watch channels like Discovery. But I think Food Network is probably a great starter for people just getting into food. Some people will be happy there, and others will want something more after a while and switch to other channels.

                    Food Network just realized that they can make more money catering to the masses than to the much smaller foodie group.

                    1. re: Miss Needle

                      "Food Network just realized that they can make more money catering to the masses than to the much smaller foodie group."

                      No, I firmly believe that they have missed the mark on where their audience lies. They thought that statement was true. In fact, the "foodie group" is ever expanding and gaining new members from the public at large every day. Instead, FN is becoming less focused and with no particular discernible demographic. The fact that their ratings have declined bears this out. Unlike other channels which lost their way (A&E, Learning Channel, even Sci-Fi) and hardly represent their name, Food Network really caught the crest of an emerging wave that has yet to reach shore. But they Barny'd (it's a surfer term) and made a dumb decision not to ride it on in...

                      1. re: Scortch

                        I disagree. I think the FN realizes that the foodie group is expanding and trying to get some of those people by reairing episodes of shows like A Cook's Tour. However, at this current state, there is more money to be made by airing Rachel Ray and Guy Fieri than catering to foodies.

                        1. re: Miss Needle

                          Re-airing "A Cook's Tour" always seemed to me to play on the success of "No Res." more than anything else. It's not advertised for its foodie bent but instead with the Bourdain-despised producer- forced moment of eating the cobra heart.

                          It's so MACHO!

                          1. re: Scortch

                            The decision to repeat A Cook's Tour is made to recoup the money they put into making it. Their ownership lapses sometime this year.

                        2. re: Scortch

                          Reports that their ratings have declined are greatly exaggerated. To many advertisers, it's "demographics," not total ratings. They seem to be on the right track for them (but not for me):


                          You'd think that maybe, just out of their goodness of their hearts, they could present a weekly show of the caliber of Julia Child's. But TV land is mainly composed of those who think quantitavely (as in $$$), rather than qualiitatively.

                          1. re: Scortch

                            I thought someone recently posted ratings from the FN that showed they were doing better than ever to a younger, more affluent audience. These were ratings from Neilsen. Whenever I mention a FN show or personality to a friend or family member who isn't food obsessed, they look at me blankly. I don't know WHO is watching. But someone is.

                          2. re: Miss Needle

                            But busy housewives and husbands can still be foodies. That's what irks me about the food network. They paint everyone with the same brush.

                            1. re: Avalondaughter

                              Of course, housewives and husbands can be foodies. Just like foodies can also like McDonalds. I use the term busy housewives and husbands to refer to a certain demographic -- not that they're really housewives and husbands.

                      2. For me it has. I think I can point to continous Rachel Ray loops and finding only Marc Summers in Unwrapped as the turning point. I wanted to watch a real cooking show, and all I found were the industrial age presentation of prepared food, or Rachel chintzing on a tip to beat the $40 a day mark, or not ordering an entree in New York for dinner - just an appetizer. It would have been much better to hear her say "I can't do this on $40 a day in New York unless I eat at a chain restaurant" than to hear her claim she wasn't really hungry, and just wanted an appetizer for dinner. I just couldn't stand the schtick any more. It wears out. As for the Unwrapped show, I don't get it. I guess since Summers is a producer and/or holds a financial interest in a number of shows, he gets to give himself a show. It is the kind of thing they should put on during periods of low viewership. There is no other plausible explanation for why this airs at night, when I find myself searching for something to wind down with. There certainly isn't anything appetizing about watching factories make prepared food for me. If it weren't for Alton Brown and Robert Irvine, I probably wouldn't watch at all anymore.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: RGC1982

                          Although I'm not really a fan of most of those shows... I have to say that the amount of food she hoovers down on $40 a day is really enough for me without causing any form of hunger. Of course, when I go somewhere I may wish (or uncontrollably) to gorge myself... but it's not like her days consist of a few saltines spread with a pat of butter.

                          1. re: Blueicus

                            Two words for Rachel: 10% tips? ...

                          2. re: RGC1982

                            RGC1982 you worded everything I think perfectly. You are so right.

                          3. Thanks this is great. In the 90s -- I worked overnights, and I remember having FN on, in the background, and actually learning something. Overall. Now, the afternoon block -- all the ladies, sound the same -- meaning, they seem to how gone through the FN school of how to perform on tv, coming out on the other end like a Stepford Cook. And the men look tired. The edge. I guess it lost its edge. Think of it, would Julia Child get her own show today on FN? I'm not coming down on them, just upset that there is no variety and as a Latina--MADURA GIRL--I'm upset on how we are represented, and I'm not just talking about Ingrid. THE FOOD! Thanks for letting me vent and talking my question seriously!!!!!

                            1. I don't think the Food Network is losing relevance. If anything it's more accessible. Sure "Iron Chef" cuisine is fun to watch, but it's more realisitc that I'll prepare dishes from shows like Good Eats, Barefoot Contessa, and others.
                              The Food Network is clever for not limiting itself to cooking shows, and branching out to other food-related shows about industry, restaurants, and travel.

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: jtpeters

                                I don't see any branching out. I think it's more narrowly defined than ever. I used to enoy Ace of Cakes once in a while. Now, every time I turn FN on, there's a show about a cake competition. Click. Off goes FN. Result? I don't bother to watch Ace of Cakes anymore and the word "fondit" makes me queasy.

                                1. re: southernitalian

                                  I'm not a fan of the cake design challenge shows either - mostly due to the fact that taste has no role in them, but I think you're just incredibly unlucky when you tune your TV to Food Network. A DVR or TIVO might help by recording more variety.

                                  1. re: southernitalian

                                    The thing that's fun about Ace of Cakes (which I haven't watched for several months, so maybe this is no longer true) is that it *isn't* "all about the cake." It's about the people in the bakery, some of whom are quite charming, and their weekly cake-based art projects. It's a reality show about a scrappy little group of people facing daily challenges. The fact that it takes place in a bakery is really pretty incidental -- it could be about a small press, an auto body shop, or a florist shop without really changing the show.

                                    (Edited to make tenses agree.)

                                    1. re: southernitalian

                                      Ace of Cakes grew out of the cake competition shows. Duff was a competitor (with Geoff at least once) on them before he got his own show. And jlafler is right, in my opinion, Ace of Cakes is at least as much about the people in the bakery as about cake....which is why I enjoy it so much; they're likable.

                                    2. re: jtpeters

                                      Accessible and branching out...I think this is the first time I have heard anyone refer to FN in such a way.

                                    3. i used to have FN on ALL the time. Now i rarely watch it ever. Shows like taste and good eats helped my cooking. Now every show that is about cooking seems to be about very basic stuff and cooking on a budget, and far too many shows are not about cooking at all. I understand why FN made this choice, but I'm afraid it meant I was no longer its target audience.

                                      it was like when MTV switched from all music all the time, to some some music once in a while....

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