Thursday, June 5, 2008

The Defiant Face That Launched a Thousand Hateful Little Ships

Meet Lisa Fernandes. Apparently a lot of you out there know this woman and her food so intimately that you can come up with a multitude of reasons why she should not still be competing for the title of Top Chef...

It never ceases to amaze me just how much vitriol can be hurled at a person for the stupidest of reasons: The crossed arms. The look on her face. The double chin. The tone of her voice. Her lesbianism. Her defense of her own food. Does she have chutzpah? Absolutely. So why all the hate?

Don't get me wrong. I think Stephanie is going to win this thing hands down. But I also think Antonia blew her opportunity to advance just like Dale did, and that Lisa cooked just well enough to advance ahead of Antonia. That's what happens in this crazy reality show called Top Chef. Put simply, an abrasive personality is not what's judged. Food is. Lesbianism is not judged, seasoning is. Personal appearances are not evaluated as part of a dish, the appearance of the protein on the plate is.

I'm sorry that your favorite chef (~insert aggrieved party's name here~) was sent packing before Lisa. But unlike Bravo's other reality shows where you can see a dress or a dance move or a haircut, we viewers cannot taste the food. So why don't we dial down the hate that's being dumped on Lisa and concentrate on what appears to be a battle royale of a finale.

19 comments:

a-nony-mouse said...

While watching Step it up and Dance last night (yes, I confess and my favorite won!), there were two different previews that highlighted Gail saying, 'I can't believe Richard said that.' Said whaaatt?! And then the announcer guy said 'the hardest decision....ever' Is this just Bravo editing evilness or something super twisty. It's only Friday!!!!

(as an aside - you always wonder if someone is being aggressively edited to be 'the villain' TomC. had some interesting things to say on that in his blog. There is no doubt Lisa said what she said and others responded but what I always wonder is what we don't see...)

Anonymous said...

Ted Allen also said something about "the edit":

"Lisa arrived with a new haircut and a “Kosher” t-shirt she would soon wish she had saved to wear for the Elimination Challenge; and, whaddya know, the editors allowed her a smile or two."

Anonymous said...

I agree with you. Lisa is not my favorate cheftestant, but, I go with the editing theory. Also, I understand the clenching up she does, she's not gonna show the fear or terror, tears (I would be crying) or freakout she's experiencing. Scowling is what works. The hate from watching a tv show is really really mean.

histrogeek said...

I have to agree that the hate heaped on Lisa is completely uncalled for. She does seem to have a knack for being just slightly better than her competitor at the elimination table. She has for weeks been sliding on other people's mistakes.

That doesn't excuse all the hate tossed her way. Being just better than the other person is a way to win, if not the preferred way. She hasn't been sabotaging her opponents. (Anyone who thinks the judges hadn't notice the lack of whole grain in Andrew's sushi is fooling themselves and apparently didn't watch the show.) And the last three to fall, clearly died by their own mistakes. Dale was the only vaguely questionable one, although I can believe that butterscotch scallops were nastier than bad sticky rice and laska.
I think part of the issue though, is that people keep expecting Lisa to pack her knives and she manages to hang on. It's a little frustrating.

Britt said...

I agree with you on the face that her being a lesbian really shouldn't come into play. I don't think that's a fair reason to dislike a person or to say they don't deserve to be Top Chef.

I don't hate Lisa, but I dislike her strongly and I feel that she does not deserve to be there in the top three with Stephanie and Richard.

I really don't understand why she's still there, but I didn't understand how Spike or Nikki managed to last that long either.

ThursdayNext said...

No diner deals with the chef...the food needs to stand on its own no matter what personality the chef has! So more power to her!

aqua said...

wow, this is quite refreshing seeing a post NOT trashing Lisa. while she is not my favorite, I don't think she is as hateable as Spike or Ilan (who did happen to win Top Chef in spite of his douchbaggery). I'm just wondering if her sourness is just more apparent now because there are fewer chefs to highlight. I remember people talking about Lisa in the little one-on-ones, but I didn't take them too seriously because you never really saw her do anything, and the comments were being made by Dale, Andrew, and Spike. The thing that bugged me about the recent episode was the little comment about not being congratulated. That being said, I thing that personality only matters if you're a woman since part of the (televised) reason Tiffany didn't win was of her abrasive personality since the judges seemed to think her food was top-notch and Ilan won in spite of being an ass and a school yard bully for CLEARLY taking part in the Marcel shaving incident.

The Troll said...

I didn't know she was a lesbian and was a tad confuzzled about the level of viewer animosity towards her.

But nothing will ever confuzzle me more about Top Chef viewers than the fact that they elected Sam (Not that guy) Talbot fan-favorite.

I put Ilan, Sam and that nasty Season 2 blonde bitch who's name I forget ahead of Lisa in the obnoxious standings.

Anonymous said...

I saw one blog suggest that Lisa-hate was anti-semitic. (Hard to believe given that we just now found out she was Jewish.)

Other than not being able to cook rice, I'm sure Lisa is a perfectly fine chef. She also comes across as a complete bitch. Fair? Who knows. But the crossed arms the various quotes from her sure make her seem like an unpleasant person. I don't think that has anything to do with her being a lesbian.

The Big Shamu said...

Being a bitch and aggressively defending your food is one thing but I'm not sure I understand what exactly she's done to "warrant" such hatred? Was she the only person to throw someone under the bus? No, check Dale in wedding wars. Did she deliberately try and screw people when she had an advantage to do so? No, that was Spike's game from very early on(Block Party on). I have come to the conclusion that the one thing the bugs people the most about her is that she doesn't give a rat's ass about what other people think of her. She doesn't care that you think she's ugly especially coming from the many anonymous writers to boards and blogs. I suspect she doesn't care that people think she has a big brash attitude in the kitchen. I suspect many men in the kitchen yell and curse but don't get called a bitch (like Dale in restaurant wars). She doesn't care that you think Dale or Antonia is a better cook, she still advanced ahead of them because she stayed true to herself.
What I respect about her is that she's always concentrated on the food. It didn't always work, hence her many appearances at the losing Judges Table. I will give her props for taking the hits of being in the bottom so much but still keep getting up and trying harder. I can't help but respect that kind of toughness.

Chelsea said...

My guess would be that the editors have enhanced Lisa's bad moments. Even Ted Allen comments on that. The point is, it's a cooking competiton, and we have to trust the judges, because we can't taste the food. Nothing but the food should matter. It's kind of sad that viewers attack people like this.

Anonymous said...

Her lesbianism? So you want to make everyone's disdain of Lisa about homophobia? As opposed to her incredibly unpleasant personality?

I imagine you caught her great Daily News quote about bloggers not being able to afford her food. Are you still going to keep defending this person?

And really, the reason people are calling her Gorgon, is because of her general mannerisms and nastiness, not because it's the popular kids picking on the unpopular ones, like you seem to want to believe.

It's a fun show. She's the villain. Live with it.

And while I have absolutely no problem gleefully making fun of people for their appearance, it seems you do have a problem with that. But then you make fun of a bunch of people... for their appearance? Not so smart....

The Big Shamu said...

Sigh. I guess you'll have to explain to me then why her lesbianism is brought up at all when discussing how it pertains to how her food is judged.

Yes I caught her quote. She says she doesn't read the boards or blogs. Why should she? She has much of the same opinion of the Top Chef internet denizens like Sam or Brian Mularky of seasons past.

I get that she's the villain. I have no problem with that concept. Perhaps like past contestants she'll look back on her time on Top Chef and find reason to change what most people find abrasive. What I have a problem with is people taking out their frustrations that "their" favorite chef failed and Lisa is to blame. Lacking the ability to criticize her food, they leap to her attitude, appearance and demeanor. Her appearance didn't cause Dale to make the horrid butterscotch scallop dish. Her attitude didn't cause Spike to take frozen scallops as his choice of protein. Lisa had nothing to do with Antonia failing to cook her peas correctly or throw out a whole batch of rice or radically simplify her dishes. Criticize Lisa's food as best we can from through our tv screens and without tasting and most likely I will agree with you.

Sorry you didn't get the "irony" of the appearances of people applying the nicknames. Just thought you'd like to see what they look like. For all you know those people could have exactly the same sort of attitude and demeanor that Lisa possesses.

Anonymous said...

Sadly, many people have been super critical of Lisa and have judged her by the way she looks, her personality, her attitude and yes, even her lesbianism and religion. More often than not, the comments are much nastier than the articles themselves. Top Chef used to be a fun show, but the fun went out with the head shaving, and it hasn't come back.

Another Tina said...

It has little or nothing to do with her being a lesbian or Jewish, she's just plainly rude and negative and someone I wouldn't want to work around just like Dale was arrogant had little to with him being male or Vietnamese!

Anonymous said...

Isn't Dale Filipino?

And while I haven't enjoyed Lisa's personality or appearance, nothing she has made can compare to how bad the butterscotch scallops were (as stated in Boudrain's blog).

She's not my favourite. Not by a long shot, but I wouldn't wish the heap of just plain nasty criticism she has received on anyone (including Spike, my least favourite)

teresina said...

Lisa's last name is Fernandes, with an "s".

Just sayin'.

The Big Shamu said...

Thanks Teresina for the correction. Fernandes with an S.

Nanc Twop said...

I do agree that the Bravo editing monkeys have their own agenda re: Lisa. Antonia was quoted (people.com) saying she talks to Lisa every week, and I doubt she'd do that if Lisa was truly a villain.

''I think Stephanie is going to win this thing hands down.''

Then you won't want to read the stats about previous TC winners. I posted them on my blog, but I warn you, they point toward Lisa as the eventual winner...

my Top Chef posts