Each week we take a quick, cautious look at what's going on with televised cooking. This week: Stuffed: Food Hoarders, a one-hour special that sours as you watch it, Feb. 11 and 12 on the Cooking Channel.
Kudos to the Cooking Channel for showing food in as disgusting a light as possible, and for profiling people who should be physically barred from buying so much as a peach without supervision. Fuck all food, you know? It also deserves praise for ripping off an existing show so thoroughly you could fall asleep during one and wake up during the other without realizing your roommate came in, changed the channel, wrote on your face, and left.
But by focusing solely on food, can Stuffed: Food Hoarders offer the same rubbernecking TV as its whole-home crazy neighbor Hoarders?
Food Hoarders CAN! Sort of.
You see, I've never watched a whole episode of Hoarders, because once they start cleaning it turns into a cleaning show, and you can only rubberneck cleaning for so long. (That's why the pure-play cleaning show has yet to break out.) (Though I believe it is only a matter of time before it does, and it will be game-changer.)
But the first 20 minutes Food Hoarders certainly stands up to first 20 minutes of Hoarders in its exploding-blenderness, which is impressive. It's also inevitable, because there is evidently much overlap in the hoarding game. In the special, two of the three food hoarders clearly have issues in other areas, like in the whole fucking house. Hoarding from the front door to the living room to the family room and down the hallway to the kitchen. Sad kids, frustrated relatives, stacks of Very Important Things blocking all sightlines. Just great, great TV all around. We're sick people.
Food Hoarders steps gingerly through these rooms on the way to the kitchen, apparently leaving those messes to other room-specific hoarding professionals and their eventual pilots on HGTV. (I await these shows.) Once in the kitchen, behold: Towers of food. If I wasn't so used to seeing stacks of jars and cans it would be shocking, but since we have supermarkets it's just very strange.
So, why so much food? Psychologists pop up on screen to explain things like the stockpiling instinct and people not knowing what they have, because they have so much. It's all very sad. An autistic boy forages through an overrun kitchen looking for sustenance, a mom notices food from 1997 in a basement freezer, and an old, sad man who calls himself an entertainer pulls out a ventriloquist's puppet and makes viewers cry. Imagine what a live audience would do. It's really sad, actually. Fucking delusional hoarders.
After the first 20 minutes, however, the action begins to lag, and the rubbernecking stops, and Food Hoarders basically turns into a show about cleaning out the fridge. We're on familiar ground. We've all had too many boxes of rigatoni for one's own good, we've all thrown up a little peering into the produce bin, we've all carried the same can of soup from apartment to apartment like a talisman. The contestants on Food Hoarders may need professional organizers to lecture them that the bell pepper is rotten and the cookie dough is two years expired -- this actually happens -- but it's the same Sunday afternoon housecleaning crap.
Fortunately, food hoarders aren't as attached to decade-old soup as regular hoarders are to National Geographic, and that's good, because, Jesus, if I have to see another person stand there and deliberate whether to throw something like a manila folder away, I'm going to kill myself. With food hoarders, the going is mostly easy, because old food is disgusting.
Again, kudos for the Cooking Channel for showing the unpalatable side of food. A food network needs to show every side of it, not just this French toast bullshit. Digestion next, please.
Previously, Michael Leaverton watched:
Bama Glama, the show all Alabama loves to fight over in comment threads