Has a reality show finale ever been more bittersweet? Usually these competitions involve finalists who, in a sense, have already won. Many runners up on American Idol or The Next Food Network Star gained popularity and notoriety from their appearances on the program – and their careers got the requisite shot in the arm. Daughtry for instance did not seem to miss out a whole lot from not winning the grand prize. Indeed most likely Jenny Cross will get a benefactor in her corner or something after showing such potential in this competition, but if not, the tears she showed after being defeated by Rachel in the Worst Cooks Finale were legitimately sad.
This is not to take away from Rachel of course. Her meal was decidedly good – the judges were much more excited about her pasta appetizer – so much so that her substandard panna cotta did not cost her. But Jenny/Elvira had come so far – and survived a total meltdown and seemed to respond to instruction well. Her story was an underdog sort of story that seemed to NEED a victory like this. And I was a little surprised with the verdict given the gap in desserts – and since it is the a final impression on one’s tongue.
The episode itself was kind of weird. Really we just see the chefs consult with the students and then walk through the meal process. Both students have menus they are happy with, that exploit their best skills blah blah blah. On the day itself they cooked in a restaurant kitchen for the food critics (Jeffrey Steingarten, Alex Guarnaschelli and some other lady who I cannot recall right now – I think Alex has a deal to be on every show on the channel, even if she looks like she came off of the lilypads into my TV). Each student must prep the meal but the chef is there to offer encouragement and keep them on schedule. That said, from the editing at least, neither chef was very helpful. Beau especially seemed to be badgering Jenny about the time constantly, and almost caused her to melt down again. Really the coaching at this point is a little overbearing – really the chefs needed to be able to offer more instruction and input (just verbal) instead of such bizarre rules, especially given the conceit that these dishes are supposed to be representing the chefs. Beau seemed very negative – while Anne merely seemed negative.
Overall, the result was hard to really criticize. Like its reality competition brethren, Worst Cooks in America is edited deftly to make the judgment seem as conflicted as possible. Both meals looked good and both had an almost quota-like number of good and bad comments from the judges. It was going to come down to that last minute. While I respect the winner of the competition, it is a shame someone so vested in the competition had to lose. Nobody likes seeing tears – it meant so much to Jenny. It made the episode hard to enjoy in its full glory.