It used to be that if I wanted to spend two or three hours obliterating my free time, I watched Law & Order. Now I watch Food Network's Chopped. I'm not sure what changed. I think it's more difficult for me to stop myself from watching another Chopped when I'm on a binge. With Law & Order, a new episode means a new case and new disposable characters, and as each hour begins there are a few panicky moments where I am wondering who everyone is and how they know each other, and these moments give me an out to change the channel. There's nothing like that on Chopped. In fact, the rhythm of the show means that I am always slightly angry that the episode is ending with — and that the winner is being decided by — a dessert cook-off. Desserts are for nerds, and it is the Achilles heel of the Chopped format. For that reason, at the end of an episode I always want to cleanse my palate by starting a new episode and watching them cook appetizers, a comfortingly savory and relatable course. And the next thing I know, I'm watching a whole new episode.
When judges eliminated America’s Sick Kid (Aaron Carter) in the first episode, I’ll admit that I was unsure whether or not Rachael Vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off had legs. I was also unsure whether Aaron Carter had legs, because his vests and Jigsaw face make him look like a ventriloquist’s dummy. Are we sure we ever saw him standing on his own two feet without Joey Fatone a few inches away, his arm buried elbow-deep in Aaron’s party? Whoever is doing the Aaron Carter Puppet voice is a little offensive. No one really talks like that. “What about a macaroni salad?”
As someone who watches Top Chef, a number of things have always troubled me about the format. One, almost none of the chefs were in the movie Young Guns. Two, many of them seem to have previous cooking experience, or at the very least to have eaten normal human food through their mouths. Three, not a single person mentoring the chefs ever wears their sunglasses on the back of their heads. Very often, they aren't wearing any sunglasses at all! These things have always nagged at me, but now Food Network's Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off is here to "solve" these problems.