Hyphen TV: Not Too Asian

December 19, 2011

Ed and the reviled Heather choose fruit

Whoa you guys, our shows are winding down. Which means the drama's pumping UP! Okay, sorry. I'll never say that again ... probably.

Tensions were still high on Top Chef after Heather needlessly called Bev out for not doing enough work in the last challenge and then -- whaddaya know --  the two were paired up for the game challenge, forced to work together to cook up some duck. Heather gets things started off right by telling Beverly, "Make sure that the whole dish isn't too Asian because that's not my style." Hey there. First of all, most of the chefs are paired with someone who doesn't cook in his or her style, so don't act like this is some kind of huge hardship for you personally. Secondly, I'm not sure why Heather's acting like she has no say over the food dictator that is Beverly. Why aren't you talking together about what kind of dish to make? Of course, there's also the fact that Bev's style is largely Korean-inspired and not the generic "Asian," but I get that many people (you'd think a chef would know better, but whatever) equate green tea, soy sauce, and mandarin oranges with "Asian" and nothing more (that latter example comes from a great Margaret Cho bit about an Asian salad she was offered on a plane...).

Okay, so I'm cutting Heather an ever-so-slight bit of slack, right? The show editors certainly didn't: shortly after the "make sure the whole dish isn't too Asian" comment, we get Heather saying, "Think about a name ... I don't want it to be a completely Asian dish." Umm. Yeah, we all heard you the first time, no Asian stuff. But again, why are you putting Beverly to task with menu choice and naming? Why aren't you offering up your own suggestions or, as I expected her to, simply taking over and making the decisions for both of you (not that that's a "better" option, but it's the one that seems more in keeping with Heather's decidedly not-Asian style). Even chill Ed commented, "Heather's being a complete bitch."

Beverly during a rare lighter moment in the episode

At this point we finally got some extended interview time with Beverly, and boy were those editors cackling with glee over this one. After telling us that Heather is "abrasive and controlling" (uh, yeah ... to say the least), Bev shares the story of the abusive relationship she was in that she had to escape while the guy was at work. After that, she swore never to let that happen again. Aaaand cut to Heather saying, "Bev asks a lot of questions, like a sous chef would ask ... she doesn't think like a chef." OUCH. Tell us how you really feel, Top Chef powers that be.

Cutting ahead to the elimination, in which the chefs themselves had to choose the three bottom teams to go in front of the judges, Bev and Heather unsurprisingly found themselves nominated. The judges found their duck a little too safe and as Bev began her reply Heather cut her off, spitting out a laundry list of things that went wrong both in the rendering of the dish and their inability to see eye to eye. She then brought up their "different work ethics," mentioning to the judges Beverly's complete focus only on shrimp in the previous challenge. Oh no she didn't. She did NOT bring up completely irrelevant previous challenge behavior on a team she was not even a part of. Dakota, another chef in the bottom, actually got so upset that she stepped in to defend Bev. It this point I was sure I could cringe no more.

    I'm just putting this nice photo of Paul and some fruit here so we can take a break.

But wait! Heather responded by saying that Bev "doesn't trust herself [or] have enough confidence to push through." Push through WHAT? Your incessant rules and demands? Was that supposed to be some kind of obstacle course for Bev to prove herself in? If you knew that, and it's clear that you have felt that way for a while, why would you bully and cajole her to a place that YOU KNEW would negatively affect your dish? But guess what! That still wasn't all! Heather said to Bev, "I felt like I had no say in our dish. I said no Asian, you had no other ideas." Again, I do not understand why Beverly seemed to have sole responsibility for coming up with their plate. Is she a pushover or a tyrant? Heather seemed to be telling both stories. Grayson, yet another chef in the bottom, also felt the need to speak up, pointing out that Heather selling her teammate out was actually Heather selling herself out (it was a double elimination in which both members of a team -- not two individual chefs -- would be sent home). Oh man, I didn't even get to that level of illogic. At this point, my head was spinning. But don't worry, back in the stew room Heather brought the shrimp up YET AGAIN with the other chefs. Does this woman only operate on self-destruct? However good a chef she is, she seems to completely lack any grasp of reason or social norms.

Thankfully, Hugh pointed out during judges' deliberation how unnecessary and unprofessional it was for Heather to bring up previous challenges to the judges, who view each challenge as a clean slate with which the chefs can impress or disappoint. Yeah, suck it, Heather. The team of nightmares was saved, and Nyesha and Dakota were sent home for their venison, which was extremely undercooked. An especially bitter pill to swallow for Nyesha, who didn't even handle the meat. But a team challenge means that everyone is responsible for everything, so they're out.

Before we delve back into the mess that is Bev and Heather, just want to mention that Ed and Ty won with their quail, splitting $10K. Go, Ed! Very happy to have a bright spot in this sea of darkness. Sorry you didn't get more deserved attention during this argue-y episode.

Yay, Ed and Ty! Man Ed has some great shirts.

So back to Heather. Though she is conclusively a pretty horrible woman (editing or no, she still brought up that shrimp over and over), from what we saw I still would not label her as a racist. Yes, she did manage to cram "Asian" so full of disdain you could just smell the hate rising off of the word. But to me, Heather is a bully, plain and simple. I have little doubt that she'd be equally disparaging toward, say, a Greek chef, or a chef specializing in South African food. Anything that would force Heather out of her own comfort zone is a thing for her to push away and completely avoid. It seems she also zeroes in on weakness and will do whatever she can to exploit the fears she senses to her own advantage as much as possible. It would have been interesting to see how she would have paired with, say, Dakota or Richie, two eliminated competitors who didn't seem as strong as people like Grayson or Chris Jones. Oh, how I hope we see Heather work with, oh I don't know, Ed Lee, who I feel could really lay some smack down. Would she try to push him to the edge, as she did with Bev? Or would she sense his confidence and stand down? I am grossly curious.

And now, Sad Bev.

As for Beverly ... I was a little surprised that we didn't get more of her side of the story. It's like once they got the abusive relationship story out of her, they hung onto that and just let the cameras roll on Heather. Don't get me wrong; there was something terribly delightful about watching her hang herself. But I didn't particularly care for the way that the show took away Bev's voice, just as Heather did. I hope we get some reaction interviews in the next new episode.

Okay, that's a loooot of Top Chef. But what about our other Bravo pals on Work of Art? In their penultimate episode, the artists were sent to Cold Springs, NY, where they had to find portrait subjects. After wasting most of his time with a woman at a bed and breakfast, Young found an art gallery and used the $200 supply money to pay the artist inside to paint Young's portrait. As Terence painted (and commented on Young's "Justin Bieberish hair"), Young took photos of him, planning to juxtapose the photographic images of Terence with the painted portrait of Young. Was there ever any question? Of course Young made it into the finale, though I did like Jerry's observation that Young "tidies up this thinking" for the judges and doesn't really challenge himself by breaking out of his ordered style. I completely agree with this assessment, and I can't wait to see if Young takes anything from it for the finale.

Too messily tidy? Too tidily messy? Neither?

Sara found Cold Springs' firehouse where she met Jackie, a 58-year veteran firefighter. Her piece involved hammering holes into aluminum that outlined Jackie's portrait next to 58 metal tags with names written in burnt charcoal that represented his years of work. The piece brought tears to Jackie's eyes at the gallery show, and Jerry thought the piece was "way out of [Sara's] comfort zone, really brave, and really bold." He disagreed with Bill, who found that the two different elements of the piece weren't unified. But guess what: she made it too! Finale up next ... who are you guys rooting for?

Jackie looks very friendly here.

Well, Edna didn't beat Ozzy in her Redemption Island challenge on Survivor. No one really expected her to beat the boy wonder (though, Sophie did ... kudos to her for winning the whole thing). After 33 days, Edna was sent to join the rest of the jury, but she did have a last moment of real glory during the final tribal where all of the jury gets to confront the final three. Inevitably this means a lot of bitterness, chewing people out, and a complete lack of understanding that lies are an absolutely necessary part of this game (after 23 seasons, how do people still not get that?). Edna, however, did not really have anything to say to the finalists. Instead, she made a statement that was more for her fellow jurors, pointing out that the game is all about duplicity, and every last one of them signed up to be on a show where they KNEW they'd get duped. Thank you so much for pointing out what seems to be an incredibly obvious fact, Edna. It's a relief to know that everyone isn't just lobotomized out there, left to focus on nothing but getting revenge.

Oh, and one last Edna note: during the reunion she revealed that she's pregnant! Probst made some quasi-lewd comment about how her husband couldn't keep her hands off her once she returned from her adventure, but I'll pretend that didn't happen. Congrats, Edna!

   Soon-to-be mom Edna looking nice in blue. And is that Elyse back there? Hi, Elyse!

Kunal Nayyar of the Big Bang Theory was on Conan this week. I don't watch BBT so I'm new to the fact that Kunal is absolutely delightful. He chatted with Conan about the culture shock he had going to college in the states after growing up in New Delhi, and he shared the wackier details of traditional Indian weddings (because he's getting hitched any day now! Or may already he as of this posting!) to Conan's utter joy. See the interview right here. And watch out for your shoes, Indian grooms.

Kunal has a casual chat with Conan

And finally, a quick pop-up by Kal Penn and John Cho on the Daily Show in a mail commercial spoof. Yes, you read that right. A spoof of a commercial for the post office. Turns out that, according to the Daily Show, Harold and Kumar are on par with Glee and The Voice in terms of hipness. Check out the bit right here.


Dianne Choie


Dianne Choie's TV is in Brooklyn, NY. She has a cat, several reusable shopping bags, and other mildly annoying stereotypes of youngish people who live in Brooklyn.