While (most of) Twitter rejoiced over Ana Quincoces' ejection on tonight's episode of Food Network Star after she spent almost a whole season as co-host Bobby Flay's inexplicable favorite, many of us are also wondering how this show gets made and exactly what Bobby and co-host Giada De Laurentiis know about what goes on behind the scenes.
Fans of the show have spent virtually this entire season pointing out Ana's less-than-humble approach to, well, everything, but on the most recent episode of Food Network Star, she didn't hesitate to level some microaggressions at the black folks competing against her. Specifically, she said that Tregaye Fraser's show would only work "for a certain audience."
Yo what was up with that comment Ana made talking about Tregaye just now.? #FoodNetworkStar— Cornelius Neal (@corneliusrneal) July 18, 2016
I'd rather people be honest. Those sneaky racists are the worst, eh Ana? #FoodNetworkStar— Neighborhood Bum (@GeneHart4Ever) July 18, 2016
Ana: I would never watch you (Tregaye). NOBODY WILL EVER WATCH YOUR SHOW ANA WHY ARE YOU STILL HERE #FoodNetworkStar— Lauren Thomas (@lthomas131) July 18, 2016
I don't know how this show gets made, so I'm not sure if Bobby and Giada heard Ana's comments before or after they made a judging decision, but I do know that Food Network has a not-so-awesome history of dealing with race. There was that Paula Deen fiasco, and also the time that Food Network Star Season 10 winner Lenny McNab was busted for his racist, homophobic and misogynist internet history and attacks on actual people. In the end, McNab didn't get his own show.
In addition to Ana's comments, which she made to the cameras during a one-on-one interview and not in front of the judges, there's also the matter of Bobby continually telling contestant Damiano Carrara (whom people claim Giada favors) that he couldn't understand what he was saying because of his Italian accent. Damiano is moving on in the competition — if he wasn't, I would be in a rage, and it would be hard not to think that Bobby's comments had something to do with that — but watching Bobby's reaction to Damiano was uncomfortable and gross, especially in light of what happened with Ana.
Ana's off the show now, and so it's easy for us to say that it doesn't matter what she said and it doesn't matter if Bobby and Giada knew about it. But it does matter. Someone edited this episode, saw what happened and decided it was cool to let Ana's comments go unaddressed by everyone.
This isn't the first time Ana's behaved like a jerk to her fellow contestants, but — I might or might not be remembering this wrong — this is the first time we've seen her make racist comments. Ana wasn't being cute or risqué or sassy, and it's not cute when other people say things like that, ever. It is, however, the responsibility of the show, and the network, to decide how to deal with them and to hold the person who said them accountable for their statements.
It's not too late to call Ana out, by the way, even if she's no longer on the show. She won't cease to get attention, at least not yet, and it shouldn't be on people of color to tell her how messed up what she said was and why. Note to future Food Network Star contestants/all reality stars/aspiring reality stars: It's not cool to build a persona around being a jerk, either, by the way.
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