We are now nicely ensconced in Season 12 of Food Network Star, and the competition for the next show on Food Network is intense. On Sunday's new episode (tailgate challenge!), the judges showed former model Monterey Salka the door. This week's judges included guests Katie Lee and Robert Irvine as well as regular hosts Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis. Many viewers were annoyed by Monterey's exit — they'd much rather have seen the seemingly indestructible Ana Quincoces go — but there were also those who remained singularly fixated on De Laurentiis, for reasons I don't completely understand.
De Laurentiis has been a focus of Food Network viewers for a long time, for reasons that are almost exclusively sexist and that regularly dominate the conversation around her co-hosting of Food Network Star. These hits include: she's too attractive, she's too thin, she wears shirts that are cut too low, she "pays her bills with her boobs" (cool story, person who tweeted that), she probably threatened to quit the show unless there was at least one attractive Italian dude competing, she shows favoritism (à la Kody Brown) toward contestants who make Italian food. So, you know, the usual constructive feedback that comes from the internet.
I get that the relationship between De Laurentiis and Flay is the subject of gossip; they may or may not be or have been in some kind of tryst off camera, especially since both of them are now divorced from their respective spouses. But most of the time, what people are saying about De Laurentiis has nothing to do with that. Seeing as her job and Flay's job is to judge a competition show about food, I'm not sure how a person's breasts, or what she's doing or not doing with them, are relevant. The comments about De Laurentiis aren't all that different from those made about Top Chef's Padma Lakshmi regarding sexiness and fawning over male contestants. I have yet to see a Twitter feed about either show that consists of people accusing Flay or Tom Colicchio of the same things. I know it's a reality show, thus containing reality show elements, but you don't need to talk about a woman's breasts to stay on message. This is a show about people who are interested in food, who want a show on Food Network and who also occasionally talk smack about their competition. Say what you want about that, but Giada De Laurentiis' body or her relationship status has nothing to do with who wins. She's a chef with a successful career. Let's just keep our eyes on the ball, OK? Just the ball. Nothing else.
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