Remember criticism that shows like Friends and Seinfeld received in terms of their homogeneity (“How can a show based in New York City never have any people of color?!”)? While any given show might have good writing and directing and what have you, it can be pretty important to present a convincing portrayal of what’s being performed through the look and feel of the performers themselves.

Because Work Out has depressingly failed me as it finished its season, I’m moving on. It’s time to talk about what’s really important; the staple of my everyday television diet: The Food Network.

The Food Network boasts a number of incredible winners and a handful of terrible losers. Despite the fact that the Network is about food, the channel is entirely founded upon culture and old, new, and transformed representations of culture as demonstrated through the process of culinary preparation and how it is ultimately enjoyed. And by the way, it’s really queer. But I’ll get to that later. First, a quick snapshot:

I used to come home from work and watch Giada De Laurentiis as I settled down from a hard day. With her carefully applied makeup and low cut dresses, Giada prepares her food and invites the camera to zoom onto her hands as she chops; the camera lens dwells on her lips as she consumes high-fashion meals and sugary desserts. Though I admit that I mostly hate her for the implicit classism which her recipe choices exude across the television set; she’s filmed like a porn star – delicately masked with a sheeshy, “proper” demeanor – and it’s fun. Playboy Bunny Delaurentis.

After changing into something more comfortable and preparing some food myself, I’d eat my dinner with the queen bee of cuisine, Rachael Ray. All hail -- seriously. Rachael’s brought back the talkative Italian housewife to the mainstream, this time adding some serious tom girl action. What a tom girl. She’s cheap (or at least tries to convince us she’s on a budget), eager to roll back her sleeves and get dirty, and she can probably hold her liquor better than most.

After Rachael, I’d catch a little of Emeril. The biggest loser award, hands-down, goes to Emeril. What a tool. Every time he chops, stirs, sautés, or seasons I want to projectile vomit on the screen. Not one moment, not one motion of his show is uncalculated – for Emeril, it’s all about masculinity. When he cooks his food he struts around the kitchen; he flaunts his dominance over the raw meat and vegetables; moans “Oh, baby!” when pleasured by his own work; and occasionally even drops an awkward sexual innuendo about him actually getting laid. The kicker is that he’s threatened by Rachael’s success. During his show after he cut something cleverly, I actually heard him say: “How’s that, Rachael?" Awkward. Emeril, it’s not a competition if she isn’t trying.

But I guess my overarching point here is that to the naked eye, the Food Network seems pretty whitewashed. And according to the content of the shows, it is. But the irony, here, is that the Food Network has a huge queer following. Almost every homo I know watches the channel, has a favorite chef or show, and creamed themselves when Rachael and Giada faced off on Celebrity Iron Chef (Giada was SO bitter). The gays that love Giada are usually bitchy, classist queens; the mo’s that are into Rachael are typically dykes or butch-bent trannies and other queers; the followers of Sandra Lee are often the diva-loving, cher-worshipping, bleached-hair Marys.

But the question then, I guess, is how did this happen? How does the Food Network, of all things, become queered? Do we as queer viewers just automatically queer everything we see, regardless of the intention behind the viewed performance? Perhaps. But I can hardly believe that we did this all by ourselves. My theory? There’s something a little queer over at the Food Network headquarters. Every time the Barefoot Contessa invites her male floral arranger over for dinner with his “good friend”, I smile a little bit. As the Food Network wrestles to manage its viewership over time, from the truly closed-minded in middle America to the flaming queers across the country, my guess is that we’re going to start seeing a little more gayness each day. So keep tuning in, dear queers. As long as we’re cooking together, we’ll stay together. Until we have an openly queer cast member on the Food Network, feel free to relish in AskFannie’s version of Rachael. And what a beautiful vision it is.

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