I worry that I created the wrong impression with my rant about Sandra Lee a few Fridays ago. In no way was that entry intended to imply that there is anyone, Ms. Lee included, that I want to see hit by a speeding vehicle more than Paula Deen. My deep suspicion that Ms. Deen hails from Patterson, New Jersey stems from the fact that every word out of her gaping mouth suggests the most fraudulent, cartoonish, overblown imitation of a Southern accent since Peter Sellers tried and failed to play the part of Major Kong in Dr. Strangelove. Listen to her drop "y'all" into every sentence and tell me that she isn't trying very hard to cover up the fact that she actually sounds like Joe Pesci:
Whether the entire manner of speech is put on or she is merely exaggerating, this ludicrous caricature of a drawl comes off as only slightly more dignified than pulling both eyelids into slits and yelling "ME SO SOLLY!"
Paula Deen is like your grandmother, or at least the Food Network hopes you will think so. My grandmother did not sing the praises of factory-farmed meat that tastes like styrofoam, nor did she talk like Charles Laughton after three strokes, nor did she look suspiciously like Divine from all those John Waters films. My grandmother did not have a soul-stealing cackle, Christopher Lloyd's hairdo, or a sixty pill per day methedrine habit which raised her artificial perkiness to levels previously achieved only by Richard Simmons.
Deen has lowered the common denominator of the network she infests at every available opportunity, from the original and insufferably cloying Paula's Home Cooking to the utterly unwatchable Paula's Party and Paula's Best Dishes. But her greatest sins sprung forth from her uterus and, after 30+ years of careful training under some of the world's most accomplished child molestors, her hell-spawn Jamie and Bobby received their own show, the threateningly erotic Road Tasted (which draws in viewers with the unambiguously terrifying "You ready, brother?")
With fake Southern accents of their own and charisma levels that make their mother look like John F. Kennedy, Bobby and Jamie take time out of their busy schedule (18 hours daily of 69ing each other while Guy Fieri captures the action on camera and provides play-by-play commentary) to drive around the country eating at family restaurants and exchanging the kind of banter that can only bloom from decades of ritual satanic abuse. It should be noted that this was the next most entertaining thing Food Network could conceive after their original idea – 30 minutes of Emeril pressing his naked buttocks against a cutting board and expelling diarrhea with great force – fell through at the last minute. Realizing that most Americans would rather get a lapdance from their own mother than watch the Deen Boys cruise around in a convertible looking for Hot Browns, fried chicken, barbecue, and vicious truck stop gay sex, Food Network prodded the Boys to "eventually (decide) that they wanted to devote more time to their family restaurant" and thus stop hosting the show. This step was a financial necessity for the network, which just recently settled a class action lawsuit from consumer focus group members who viewed Road Tasted and immediately returned home to beat their children before committing suicide.
Food Network has problems overall and it would be unfair to pin its descent into self-parody solely on Deen, but wedging her deranged kindergarten teacher persona into every single special and series on the network (I wonder how much Bobby Flay has to drink before sitting down to eat a staged Thanksgiving dinner with Paula, Sandra, and Guy?) isn't helping. Her omnipresence across the network's daily schedule leads me to believe that Food Network is managed by a cadre of Japanese WWII holdouts recruited from Kamikaze squadrons and sent to America to bring about our national apocalypse.