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Appointment Viewing: Eat, Drink, Love Plates Up a Feminist Answer to Masterchef

Alex Casey watches Eat, Drink, Love, a reality series following some of the feistiest women trying to climb to the top of the fickle LA food ladder.

What’s it about?

The reality series follows five kickass women working at the very top of the food industry in LA. From critics to home chefs, bakers to publicists, it’s a look at the tight-knit female community working against the world. The gang juggle rude dudes, egomaniac chefs and hopeless admirers as they fight whitened tooth and manicured nail to be successful in a man’s world.

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Who’s it for?

Everyone who is sick of the total dude-fests known as Masterchef NZ, My Kitchen Rules and also pretty much every other cooking show on the telly. Sure, there’s a pretty even gender spread of contestants, and women often dominate challenges – but why do we never see them in positions of foodie authority? Where’s Nadia Lim, Peta Mathias or Annabelle Langbein judging Masterchef for crying out loud? Is it because they don’t have a baseball cap line to peddle?

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If you like your cooking shows without so much sausage, Eat, Drink, Love is full of the fantastic femme foodies you’ve been looking for.

What’s working?

The top talent, ranging from the eager NY-raised scamp Nina to Brenda, the broken publicist who drinks champagne for breakfast and seems to hate everyone. “The Boss” character Jessica, owner of the likes of The Viper Room, has a total bulldog attitude – “shut your fucking mouth and work” she yells – basically Gordon Ramsay in a dress.

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What I found fascinating were the constant allusions to the gender politics of the industry. Almost always done as an aside, you get a real sense for the climate in which they are working, and the attitudes they’re constantly up against. “My biggest challenge is: how do I make everyone forget that I’m 110 pounds, look like I’m 12, and am a women” Jessica says, steely down the barrel. Elsewhere, baker Waylyn struggles to be taken seriously as all her customers form deep crushes on her and send her ant farms anonymously. It’s a bloody funny problem, but nevertheless a problem.

What’s not?

Obviously the title. After the 2010 Julia Roberts shocker of an adaptation, you’d want to go as far away from this vibe. There’s a lot of drinking, a lot of eating, but not a lot of love. I would have prefer something like Bitchin’ Kitchen, but that’s just me.

I am also not a fan of the choice to dwell so often on the womens’ body issues. The toxic LA environment is most definitely to blame here, but it’s an off-putting and out of character addition for a television show so clearly passionate about food. Brenda whinges about being ten pounds bigger than everyone else. Nina complains about the impact of carbs on her tiny butt. A nice chef man is turned down for a date because he is on the larger side.

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It leaves a very bad taste in the mouth, creating a conflicting blend of utter starvation and pure disgust at your own lumpy flesh prison. How dare you dangle a delicious fonut (steamed donut) in my face and then tell me to lose ten pounds (at the very least), you know?

Should I get into it?

If you are interested in an exploration of what it takes for a women to make it in the kitchen, without it being a terrible punchline to a Men’s Humour Facebook Page meme – this is the show for you. A dramatic, electric and delicious serving of reality television.


Click here to taste test Eat, Drink, Love on Lightbox

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