Cupcake Wars: The Problem With a Cupcake Show Is That It's a Cupcake Show
Each week, we take a quick, cautious look at what's going on with food TV. This week, Cupcake Wars, an hour-long show about one thing, over and over, until death comes, Sundays at 8 p.m. on the Food Network.
Cupcake Wars has been on the air just two years, but they're already finishing up their fifth season and 60th show, and I've assiduously avoided every episode, every promo, and every ad, not because the cupcake trend was over before the show even started or because it's a show about competitive baking -- all valid reasons -- but because I think cupcakes are sort of lame.
I think cupcakes are sort of lame.
A cupcake is basically a piece of cake you eat with your hands. You might only get one good bite before it all goes to hell. You're not supposed to use a fork. Everybody feels entitled to a bite. You have to act all excited about your particular cupcake and say things like, "I win!" You eat them hunched over, like you're eating bruschetta while wearing a suit. And for what, four bucks? You can get half a sheet cake at Safeway for two bucks. Cake or brownie > cupcake, in almost all situations, which is a pretty bold proof. You might not agree with me, but it's not important, because we're talking about cupcakes.
The Food Network seems to agree with me on this -- that the inherent problem of an hour-long cupcake show is that it is an hour-long cupcake show -- because they've inserted into the series, as a diversionary tactic, an endless array of guest stars and star-studded events. It's like the Dinah Shore Show over there. It's like putting lipstick on a pig, with George Lopez and iCarly as lipstick.
Here's a sampling of the attention-getting people and groups that have appeared on the show ... well, no, here's all of them (grouped loosely by theme and/or cultural importance, highest to lowest):
Yo Gabba Gabba
AFI Young Hollywood
American Music Awards
Country Music Awards
Rock of Ages
Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark
Cirque du Soleil
Hollywood Christmas Parade
Screamfest (with Eli Roth!)
I Love Lucy
Hollywood Black Film Festival
Ace of Cakes 100th Episode Celebration
World Series Of Poker
U.S. Open of Surfing
Major League Soccer Cup Finals
Professional Bull Rider's Award Ceremony
Los Angeles Derby Dolls
Monster Truck Jam
SeaWorld Birthday Bash
Chinese New Year
Los Angeles Green Festival
Harvest Moon Gala
Festival of Arts
Girl Scouts of America
Ice House comedy club
Vanessa and Angela Simmons
Walk of Fame
I watched the Cupcake Wars episode featuring Yo Gabba Gabba, a show that landed first on the list. I've watched probably every episode of Yo Gabba Gabba, some of them 18 times in a row in one sitting, because I'm a parent, and because Yo Gabs is important to parents. Once you have a child, you stop paying attention to the finer points of pop culture, and eventually you get to the point in which Yo Gabba Gabba breaks bands for you. It's like Top of the Pops for bombed-out parents. I get my live music fix from Yo Gabba Gabba, and I don't give a shit.
But, I could not watch this show. I don't know, these guys just fucking made cupcakes. Running around the kitchen stressing about time, talking about the 20 things that went into each and every cupcake, mumbling "buttercream" over and over, worrying about getting thrown off a cupcake show. Not even the Pavlovian shock I'd get upon hearing one of the contestants says "Muno" or "DJ Lance Rock" could save me from being bored to death, nor could the presence of Yo Gabs creator as a judge.
And the way they trotted out Foofa and Muno at the end there? I'd expected that a series do devoted to the guest stars would have them fill out the show a bit more -- the whole idea is to make you forget it's an hour-long show about cupcakes -- but maybe that's how they get the talent, by not bothering the talent for an hour and then in the last eight seconds handing them a cupcake and shoving a camera in their faces.
Those cupcakes looked so good, though.
Previously, Michael Leaverton watched:
Bama Glama, the show all Alabama loves to fight over in comment threads