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Feb 21, 2010 07:49 AM

Has Food Network "Jumped the Shark"?

For those of you not familiar with the phrase, "Jumping the shark" refers to the old Happy Days TV Series. The show lost it fan base in the later episodes when they all went to Hawaii, and Fonzi jumped over a shark on water skis. It was the ridiculously defining moment when the show stopped being cool for it's loyal viewers.

Has the Food Network "Jumped the Shark"? I used to really love FN, but lately, there are very few programs left that I'm not sick of. It seems they have very few TV personalities, and they just keep building semi interesting shows around those same people. I'm not saying I hate it now, but I'm quickly losing interest.

There are a few new shows that get 30 minutes of air time per week, and I may check those out, but I'm mainly finding my Cooking TV fix in other ways now. PBS, Fine Living, and DVD formats. What else are you turning to these days if you are tired of Food Network repeats? I'd like suggestions for alternatives to FN if you are in the same boat as me. DVD recommendations, other channels, or new shows that maybe a lot of people haven't discovered yet?

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    1. The Create Network has a bunch of interesting shows. I find the Food Network just replays the same old repeats from years ago over and over many shows that aren't in current production, but just keep showing the same retreads. I don't get that, especially since they just announced they are starting the Cooking Channel in the spring. Doesn't seem like they have enough material for one channel, let alone two.

      1. It obviously has for you and others, but not for everyone. Here's an article from the NY Times recently:

        "The ratings were up markedly for the Food Network last year, and shows set in kitchens have flourished on other channels."

        Here in NYC, I watch the FN, Chs. 13, 21, and 25 for my cooking shows. On the weekends, especially in the morning, the FN is filled with "instructional" shows. And I don't remember the channel, but I also enjoy old episodes of the show "Sam, the Cooking Guy."

        My niece, who graduated from ICE, said that just about every student there dreams of getting a show on the FN.

        16 Replies
        1. re: gloriousfood

          The way FN has beeen evolving, your niece and her clasmates will probably be overqualified for their shows. A few years ago I watched FN for cooking shows predominanatly. Now they have moved away from the serious chefs in favor of nice ladies who read from prompt cards. For cooking I watch, like others, Public TV, plus the Travel channel for the hard core food stuff like Bourdain. Our FN viewing is now pretty well restricted to the Iron Chef America series.

          1. re: gloriousfood

            There is going to be a generation of very dissapointed culinary school grads.

            1. re: KTinNYC

              Depends on what they're looking for. I don't presume to know.

              I would say there could be a generation of disappointed diners if future chefs lose touch with their art and think that fame and wealth are all that matter.

              1. re: gloriousfood

                No, there'll still be people who go into cooking for the right reason but there will be many that will soon realize that they aren't ever going to be "Top Che", have a TV show, find a publisher, or even get reviewed by anyone except for someone on Yelp or Chowhound.

                1. re: KTinNYC

                  Isn't that the truth for so many professions. I used to work in publishing and received all these unsolicited ms. from people proclaiming to be the next great American author or something like that. But really they're not. And most likely, they never will be.

            2. re: gloriousfood

              "Here's an article from the NY Times"

              The NY Times has jumped the shark as well.

              "just about every student there dreams of getting a show on the FN."

              How pathetic.

              1. re: anonymouse1935

                I don't think it's pathetic, although it is a bit sad. It's call going for the money, honey, and the fame, and that's what the FN and other shows like Top Chef bring out in many aspiring chefs.

                What is pathetic is the glorification of chefs like they are saving the world or something.

                1. re: gloriousfood

                  I think that this kind of hunger for fame and celebrity status is permeating almost our entire society -not just wanna-be celebrity chefs. I find it obnoxious, tiresome, and shallow in the extreme.

                2. re: anonymouse1935

                  Knocking the New York Times has jumped the shark.

                  As for the Food Network, they're simply satisfying the desperate needs of folks who just have to know how Cheetos are made and which diner will serve them the biggest plate of saturated fat smothered in gravy and/or melted cheese within 5 miles of every interstate exit in the U.S.

                  Incidentally, Jon Hein, who is the man behind the phrase "jump the shark," is a former co-worker and friend of mine.

                  1. re: ecustard

                    Very cool. Love his book and website. The whole concept he came up with is a brilliant observation that can be applied to so many other aspects in life outside of television.

                3. re: gloriousfood

                  OMG.....ast first I was excited about the possibility, but now I'm twice as worried. Another Bobby show, two more Rachael Rays, and if we're lucky, they'll figure out another way to show Giada and Paula.

                  1. re: gloriousfood

                    Depends on what the ICE students intend by dreaming of a show. If it's, "I want a show on FN so I can show America some real cooking with real food and replace some of FN's current ridiculousness," then I applaud them ;-)

                    1. re: momjamin

                      Except FN won't step away from the ridiculousness. So no matter what the ICE students do, the FN runs the show - they'll decide what ridiculousness gets on the air and what good shows don't. :-/

                      1. re: LindaWhit

                        Yep, they're looking for personality not skill.


                        1. re: Davwud

                          And they're not doing too well at that either.

                        2. re: LindaWhit

                          Agreed about what FN's looking for, but (hypothetically) the students (and chow viewers) can dream.

                    2. Honestly my new Food Network is Travel Channel.

                      Occasionally they have those "Food" Paradise specials (i.e. BBQ, Fried, Bar Food) that show what people are serving across the country.

                      Then they have two of my favorite shows: Anthony Bourdain's No Reservation and Bizarre Foods.

                      As I got older I began to realize that most of the cooks on the show stick to very simple recipes most likely because their demographic pertains to dumb housewives and now to the new generation of young people who want to cook instead of eating fast food. I read that the network is attracting young people pretty well and considering most young people who start from no cooking knowledge don't need recipes that are too hard to remember I do believe the shows have been dumbed down considerably.

                      For me the channel died ever since they took the original Iron Chef off the air, I will still watch the new one when I flip channels but I'm not religiously watching it like I do with No Reservations.

                      1. Has anyone watched Rick Bayless' show, Mexico One Plate at a time? For me it's aired Saturday afternoons on the local PBS channel. This past weekend he did a great show on Mole. I've been trying out a few things from Rick and have liked the authentic Mexican flavors and techniques.

                        11 Replies
                        1. re: egbluesuede

                          The part when he was in Mexico was greatly enjoyable and made my mouth water; the part that showed him with his friends was unbearable and exasperating--they (his friends, not Bayless himself)--were giggling twits. I switched the channel there.

                          1. re: gloriousfood

                            Oh man, glad to hear you felt the same way! I watched an episode yesterday, first time, loved all the stuff when he was in Mexico, but when they got back to the house it truly was unbearable. The friends were idiots, and I thought Bayless himself seemed way too giddy. Over the top...I fast forwarded through that whole part.

                            1. re: sibeats

                              Yeah, it was just...unwatchable. Even my nieces' friends (all teenagers) don't act this silly when they get together.

                              1. re: sibeats

                                I agree with your comments about "overacting". It isn't necessary for the show....but I can overlook that. I do appreciate how Rick brings authentic Mexican flavors and makes it accessible for me in the US. He usually points out how it would traditionally be made, and if I had access to all of the ingredients, I would do it that was as well. But he also offers appropriate Americanized substitutions as well as opportunities to riff on the original message.

                                Coincidentally, FN aired a show the same day about an EASY MOLE dish, which really drove home the whole problem for me. No disrespect intended for anyone but I suddenly realized that I no longer fit their target audience. The recipe was really dumbed down and make EASY for their audience, and probably tasted like a cheesy blend of chocolate and peanut butter geared towards people unfamiliar with Moles.

                                1. re: egbluesuede

                                  I might have been able to overlook it if it didn't take up half the show--eating into precious moments that could've shown more Bayless and less of his ditzy friends.

                                  Agreed with you on the rest of Bayless's show.

                              2. re: gloriousfood

                                Why do these chefs insist on putting their friends in these shows??? Rick Bayless, Ina Garten, Giada DeLaurentis. It's so forced and phony. The friends and family are usually obnoxious or uber pretentious. I'm watching the show to gain some knowledge and learn how to do something; not watch a bunch of silly idiots getting their 15 minutes of fame.

                                1. re: ttoommyy

                                  I agree. There should esp. be a moratorium on spouses appearing on these shows. No one is as enthralled with your spouse, children, grandchildren, friends, fill in the blank as you are. Seriously.

                                  1. re: gloriousfood

                                    Lidia is very guilty of this...but I still love her. The only person in her family I can stand is nonni. She is adorable!

                                    1. re: ttoommyy

                                      ttoommyy, What show are you referring to with Lidia and Nonni? I don't know if I'm familiar with that one.

                                      1. re: egbluesuede

                                        Lidia Bastianich of Felidia, Becco and Del Posto restaurants. She has had many cooking shows on PBS. She has her mother on once in a while. Since she is the grandmother to Lidia's kids, she is called nonni, which is grandma in Italian.


                                        1. re: ttoommyy

                                          her nonni is sweet! she seems to have a good sense of taste, as well. it is enjoyable to watch her taste, cook, and sometimes scold lidia. you're (apparently) never too old to get scolded by momma, i know for a fact.