Film & TV

Hey Eat, Drink, Love! Women in the Food Industry Are Not Dumb Sluts... Really

Watching the season premiere of Eat, Drink, Love on Bravo last evening, I kept repeating one phrase, "My brain hurts."

The reality television "docu-drama" which follows the eating and mating habits of five women in the Los Angeles food scene, makes the Real Housewives of anywhere seem like nuns with advanced degrees in physics. It's that bad.

In the first voice over, one of the cast members complain that men dominate the food industry and women aren't taken seriously.

I'm not familiar with the Los Angeles restaurant scene, but I'll venture an educated guess that it's not "women" in general that aren't taken seriously. It's silly, vapid women -- or men, for that matter -- who want to take the easy way out that aren't taken seriously. And four out of five of the "cast" of this horrid piece of television fall into that category. Not quite convinced? Let's cite a few examples:

The Publicist

As a food writer, I deal with publicists nearly every day. And, although there are exceptions, I find most of them ambitious and driven -- with a talent for saying the right thing (after all, that is their job). Never once have I heard any PR rep saying (in public), "I'm a fucking publicist. I will ruin you," as Brenda Urban, the "public relations maven" says. Brenda, a self-confessed food hoarder, is also still bitter about a bad divorce and is "frenemies" with Eater LA editor, Kat Odell, whose idea of a joke is to say the food at one of Urban's client's "sucks."

Brenda also gets completely drunk at her surprise birthday and, in the best scene of the evening, calls out Kat on the fact that she's currently dating four or five guys in front of the restaurant owner that Kat has her eyes trained on as her new potential conquest. Which brings us to...

The Food Writer

Described as a cross between a valley girl and a hipster, Kat Odell is portrayed as someone who hops from restaurant to bed to bar to restaurant to bed. Dropping names of chefs and restaurateurs and bartenders she's dated or simply made out with, Odell is the Taylor Swift of food blogging without any of the adorableness. In one scene she has cocktails with a restaurateur and convinces him to give her a "scoop" on some new rooftop bars he's opening. In return, he asks her what she's doing later on, in a completely smarmy tone that reeks of quid pro quo. Odell is also the kind of girl that has lunch with you, then talks about you behind your back. When planning publicist Brenda's birthday party, she books a room at above-mentioned restaurateur's bar, then gives Brenda a vibrator in a pot. As Waylynn Lucas, the show's resident "voice of reason" quips, the only time someone would give a vibrator as a gift is to remind the gifted that there's no real penis available. Which brings us to...

The Baker

Waylynn Lucas is beautiful. She's not twenty-something. She owns her own business, Fonuts, a company that bakes and steams doughnuts instead of frying them. What the hell is she doing on this show? We learn she's got emotional baggage, courtesy of her ex-boyfriend, Top Chef's Michael Voltaggio. We also learn that men love Waylynn, as evidenced by the bouquet of flowers and case of Crush soda that's sent to her. (Crush, get it?) Even with the chef-trust issues, Waylynn is interesting and adult. And the only shining light in the show.

Also on the show is a Lindsay Lohan lookalike who works for Harry Morton Holdings. Lindsay Lohan Jessica Miller "crushes stereotypes associated with gender and youth," according to Bravo. However, she crushes them by being catty, mean, and mistaking "competent" with "bitchy." In one scene, Lohan Miller walks into a kitchen and berates the chef, saying that he has six secret sauces and they all suck. "I go from zero to pissed," she tells us, sounding more like a 5-year-old having a temper tantrum than a power player.

And last but not least, we are introduced to Nina Clemente, the cater chef who never went to school and won her client list by having the good fortune to have a Vanity Fair editor eat her food. Clemente sums up the entire show's problems, saying "I want to be taken seriously as a chef. Not half chef, half Mary Poppins."

These "women" wish they had the grace of Mary Poppins. In short, Eat, Drink, Love is, in Jessica Miller's own words, "Ewwwwww".

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Laine Doss is the food and spirits editor for Miami New Times. She has been featured on Cooking Channel's Eat Street and Food Network's Great Food Truck Race. She won an Alternative Weekly award for her feature about what it's like to wait tables.
Contact: Laine Doss