01.14.2016

How I’d Fix It: The Food Network

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The Food Network’s stale block of programming needs some fresh produce.

I love the Food Network, but the Food Network needs help. The programming has become tired and littered with reality game shows and Chopped clones. Does anyone watch The Next Food Network Star? Please, don’t get me wrong, I love Chopped. I can also kick my feet up and tune into some Cupcake Wars from time to time, or head down to Flavortown with Guy Fieri in Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Those are fine options, but we can do better.

I mean, just look at the typical Friday night of programming:

5:00 p.m.: Worst Cooks in America

6:00 p.m.: Guy’s Grocery Games

7:00 p.m.: Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives

7:30 p.m.: Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives

8:00 p.m.: Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives

8:30 p.m.: American Diner Revival

9:00 p.m.: Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives

9:30 p.m.: Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives

10:00 p.m.: Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives

10:30 p.m.: Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives

11:00 p.m.: Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives

11:30 p.m.: Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives

12:00 p.m.: Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives

I’ll stop there, BUT THIS DINERS, DRIVE-INS AND DIVES MARATHON CONTINUES UNTIL 3:30 A.M. WHAT THE FUCK, FOOD NETWORK? Seriously, who is watching this? Do perpetually high bros have some sort of morbid love for frosted-tipped UNLV grads chowing down on 400 consecutive hot dogs? Is that the audience? I don’t think so. From my research, I can say that if you watch more than an hour of Diners straight then you are a cat, dead or both.

Now, I know what people are thinking. You’re reading this and saying, “Nick, the audience for Friday television falls significantly compared to weeknights. You cannot possibly say Friday’s programming is indicative of the television slate as a whole.” Interesting observation, but I’ll reply with this: Thursday’s schedule.

5:00 p.m.: The Pioneer Woman

5:30 p.m.: Valerie’s Home Cooking

6:00 p.m.: Chopped

7:00 p.m.: Chopped

8:00 p.m.: Chopped

9:00 p.m.: Kid’s Baking Championship

10:00 p.m.: Beat Bobby Flay

10:30 p.m.: Beat Bobby Flay

11:00 p.m.: Beat Bobby Flay

11:30 p.m.: Beat Bobby Flay

12:00 p.m.: Beat Bobby Flay

The Thursday schedule is essentially the same programming distribution, but with Chopped and Beat Bobby Flay replacing Guy Fieri shenanigans! The whole week is that way. Obviously, those shows are fine. They can both stay on during the day or maybe an hour some nights, but the rest of the schedule needs to be altered immediately.

I’m going to level with the Food Network powers that be. You can have the Monday through Wednesday prime time blocks. Play your Kids Baking Championships and your Mystery Diners or what have you. Just give me the other two days and I will turn them into a greatest hits collection. Here is how I see it:

6:00 p.m. The Cafeteria

Hosted by Alton Brown, this is the equivalent of SportsCenter or Entertainment News for the Food Network. For one hour each day, Brown and crew break down the last 24 hours in food. Possible subject matter:

“What’s McDonald’s up to?”

“Hip New Recipes”

“Taco Bell”

Interspersed throughout this is Guy Fieri talking about the Fantasy Eating League (more on that later) and interviews with Major League Eating participants. The goal of this program is to not only inform but to entertain and get people ready for the big night of food ahead of them.

7:00 p.m. MLE Tonight

Hosted by Takeru Kobayashi and an interpreter, this is the pregame show for Thursday Night Eats. Unlike Fridays and its day of individual competitions, this day is reserved for teams. Kobayashi sarcastically breaks down how shitty everyone looks measured against his massive skill level during pre-game interviews and analysis. We’ll even bring in John Brenkus and he will do things like this.

At the end of the show, a panel of experts makes their eating picks and one panelist dons the “food of the day” head. The head signifies the mystery ingredient and segues well into the next hour’s competition.

8:00 p.m. Thursday Night Eats

This is the Centerpiece of the schedule and a cash cow in the making. Hosted by Kenny Mayne and MC’ed by George Shea, the master of these introductions, the three-hour Thursday Night Eats consists of three components: women’s competition, the team undercard and the main event.

Women’s Competition:

This does not deviate far from the Hot Dog Eating Contest formula. There will be twenty minutes of build up and background information, followed by Shea’s outstanding introductions and then, finally, the competition. The purse for this will probably have to start fairly low, but as this inevitably develops into a global phenomenon we will be able to increase the purse amount and add to the fanfare. Of course, women can compete in any other event, as well.

Appetizer:

This spot will generally be reserved for up-and-coming Eating Teams that hope to one day square off in the Main Course. I’m thinking teams consist of six members, but events generally only use three or four eaters. This allows for other team members to compete on Friday night’s individual competition.

I do not know how much food four professional eaters can eat, but I figure what they will do is plop down a couple vats of Ramen or 150 cheeseburgers and the first to finish wins. The mystery ingredient is added minutes before, but the food is announced two or three weeks to give eaters a chance to prepare

Fantasy points are deviated by percentage of the initial amount consumed. If you eat 100 out of the thousand hot wings, then you earn 10 points for your fantasy team. This way, a superstar eater on a bad team can still draw interest from viewers and betters.

Main Course:

The Main Course is fairly similar to the Appetizer with one key difference: title belts. The champion of the previous Main Course – whether it be light, middle or heavy weight – takes on a team that has finally won enough appetizers and received enough promotion that they get their chance at center saucer for a shot at the belt.

If you aren’t in yet, then I don’t know what to tell you. Wait, I do. Let’s check out the next hour.

11:00 p.m. Martha Stewart Post-Game

I have no idea what Martha is up to right now, but we will throw every cent on the planet at her to host the MLE post-game show. This show requires a three-drink minimum and Martha brings on different analysts to recap the night’s proceedings. Guy Fieri will be there! Celebrity guests will stop by! Do you think Snoop will show up some nights? Yes, there is no doubt Snoop will be there some nights!

The night culminates in previews for the big individual competition on Friday nights and the announcement of the combatants in the next Main Course. We also find out what food they will be eating and how much of it. It’s a wonderful night!

12:00 a.m. The Drink-Off

This is fairly simple, as well. We get the best professional drinkers (e.g. frat stars and old war heroes) and pit them against one another to decide who the best drinkers are in the Universe. It will be very similar to Beerfest in that many different countries will be represented and the law around the whole thing is very murky. So, you know what that means, right? Yep, you guessed it! We’re sending this bitch to International Waters! I’m excited just thinking about it.

1:00 A.M. Cakes Getting Iced

You guys thought I forgot about the late night stoner, didn’t you? Well, you were very wrong. I’m cutting out the middleman, cutting out Guy and cutting out anything other than pure food porn. The first season of this block will literally be what the name says: different pastries (primarily cakes) getting iced. There will be fun background music from the likes of Pink Floyd, Bob Marley and others. Users can vote on the Twitter Poll to decide which cake looks tastiest and where to purchase said cake.

If Cakes Getting Iced takes off then we can add Bread Being Buttered B-Roll to the list and Meats on the Grill B-Roll. We are talking a full range of low-cost content that can captivate an entire stoner populace.

Wow, what a list! And guess what, we’re running it back on Friday, except with Individual Eating Competitions and a drunker Martha.

And look at that, we just fixed the Food Network.

Nick Dorman (@nickdorman) is a clean cut young professional.