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Realitis Personae January 4, 2007

Posted by KG in Etc., Food.

Yes, Spencer, I agree: Betty Fraser is a harpy.  Or at least that’s how the skilled editors of Bravo made her seem throughout this season of Top Chef.  She was a clear “casting” (in quotes because I’m still not sure of you can call putting someone on Reality TV casting them) decision,  a contestant fans would love to hate, someone who’d make you throw a crab mallet at the television (remember her yelling, through the tears, “It’s an explanation!” during Incident Splenda? Shudder).  But ultimately, they were setting her up for a fall.  For all her experience at a “popular LA eatery”, it seemed she wasn’t a terribly good cook.  Her “I do comfort food” spiel during the Thanksgiving episode made that clear.  She managed to stay on through a mixture of sheer luck and her ongoing feud with the equally arrogant but more talented (and ridiculously coiffed) Marcel

From the moment Marcel broke the usual stoicism of Ilan and Sam,  Betty became expendable.   With two far more talented chefs now taking on her bête noire, Betty had no dramatic purpose on the show.   At least Michael provides occasional comic relief.  Betty provided shrew-like whininess, a saccharine Rachel Ray faux perk, and a clueless nonchalance (“I thought it looked good!”) that bordered on complete aesthetic ignorance.  Good riddance, thanks for playing, and no I don’t want a gift certificate to your restaurant.

On the personality side, the six remaining have an interesting dynamic.  Sam’s out-of-character snapping at Marcel was redeemed, in my eyes, by his kindness to and support of Michael.   And to my surprise, I’m actually starting to find Michael endearing — though why didn’t he switch out and pick “sloth” as his theme sin?  Ilan, through the final, unnecessary jab at Marcel, made himself look like a bit of a jerk.  Though to be honest, Bravo editors, you have me looking forward to the inevitable Ilan/Marcel throwdown in the next couple weeks. 

In the end, I see Elia and Sam as the two most consistently talented contestants, with Cliff a close third.  That does seem like a bland final triad personality-wise, but by the last few episodes, I want less bickering anyway.  By that point, it really should become about the cooking.  (But for now, Top Chef producers: Character conflict is good!)



1. Audrey - January 8, 2007

Bravo must have been trying to up the bitchiness quotient this time around. In the first season, they picked people who, at the end of the day, were still able to sit down, open a few bottles of wine, and have a meal together. Well, obviously we couldn’t have THAT again, and this season’s picks started trashing on each other from day 1. I know that conflict makes for good TV blah blah blah, but it sucks when you’re struggling to find someone to root for. I miss weepy Dave, stuffy Stephen, and ambitious Tiffani.

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