Posts Tagged ‘reality television


Nice Italian Boys

So My Antonio didn’t exactly go out with a bang, but somewhat quietly with A.S. Jr. choosing bubbly Brooke over wacky Miranda just as I (and many others, I’m sure) predicted several weeks ago. (And in the fine tradition of dating reality shows, they’ve already broken up.) At least Mama Yvonne stayed out of the picture when it came down to her bambino’s final decision. I’m glad the show’s over with, as I didn’t love myself for watching it. Wonder how long it’ll be before ex-wife Tully Jensen, the most interesting person on the show, will surface with her own show. Couple months?

And in with the new (and another show starring an Italian guy with an opinionated Buddy's back!Mama, which I realize is redundant)… The second season of Cake Boss premiered last night and it seems that the show’s popularity has increased a thousandfold judging by the media coverage. Good for Buddy and la famiglia, I say. As for the new episodes (I guess we’ll continue to see two new eps each week),  it looks like the loud-bickering-Italian-family aspect of the show has been punched up a bit, with more yelling from Mama, more attitude from Mary, more drama in general. Not really necessary. But I did enjoy Buddy’s sisters ganging up on him and hiring an assistant, who seems amiably clueless and therefore perfect for this family. And Mauro’s feisty, candy-demanding son was a hoot.

The cakes did not disappoint. Buddy sure has some impressive customers: The Brooklyn Botanic Garden, for which he made a cake with an enormous Venus Flytrap and assorted other realistic-looking flowers (his specialty); and Dylan Lauren (of Dylan’s Candy Bar fame), for whom he made an elaborate Candyland cake. There was also a cake with an embedded engagement ring, part of an in-store marriage proposal, which was actually quite sweet (no pun).

Despite all the yellin’, Cake Boss is really a very good-natured show, which is a big part of its appeal. Even when Buddy pulled a humiliating prank on Cousin Anthony involving a young woman/potential love interest, the kid took it in stride. It’s truly feel-good TV.


Opposite ends of the TV spectrum

I haven’t written about My Antonio in a while, which doesn’t mean I haven’t been watching it, just too embarrassed/unmotivated to document it. Plus the whole tortured-Antonio/dominating-Mama/gullible girls dynamic was getting more than a little annoying. But now that A.S. Jr. is down to two candidates, a few notes:

(photo: VH1)

Tully being menaced by Yvonne (photo: VH1)

I’ve actually started sympathizing with ex-wife Tully, who just cannot do right by Mama Sabato, who hates her guts for marrying Antonio when he was a mere stripling of 18. Last episode, Tully tore a stomach muscle while dismounting from a horse and wound up in the hospital with internal bleeding. Though Antonio interrupted his make-out session/date with needy Playmate Christy to rush to Tully’s side and continues to express all kinds of concern, Mama Yvonne somehow doesn’t believe her former daughter-in-law is actually “sick” (as she keeps saying). In this week’s episode, Mama visits Tully in the hospital basically to say that she has no chance with Antonio. Stupid scene.

Meanwhile, Antonio has two separate dates with the remaining contestants: a fun, sporty, action-packed day in the water with the relentlessly cheerful Brooke; and a romantic helicopter ride/blindfolded food-tasting date with Miranda, who’s getting on my nerves despite being a New Yorker. Aside from acting awkwardly girlish, she did something with cards called an angel reading, which is probably as ridiculous as it sounds.

Anyway, after showing up at elimination in a wedding dress and bearing old wedding photos, Tully was gently dumped by Antonio, much to Mama’s relief. No surprise there.

Strange show: In last week’s episode,  Antonio seemed genuinely surprised to be involved in his future wedding rehearsal. I have to wonder if he’s really at the mercy of Mama and the show’s producers, who seem to enjoy springing unexpected stuff on him. If his confusion and ongoing torment over elimination has all been a big put-on, he’s a better actor than I thought.

Now, on to the opposite end of the television spectrum, namely the wickedly witty

Isn't anyone hot for teacher?  (photo: Carin Baer/ Fox)

Isn't anyone hot for teacher? (photo: Carin Baer/ Fox)

Glee, which boasted many highlights last night. So nice to see the über-talented Matthew Morrison (Will) showing off his stuff with a rousing version of “Bust a Move,” surely one of the catchiest songs to come out of the last two decades. He also does a sexy dance around Ken’s bride-to-be Emma to “Thong Song” (the groom’s choice for first-dance song). Go, Mr. Schue! In another great scene, Will and Sue (Jane Lynch) swing-dance energetically, part of a funny storyline involving her short-lived romance with TV newscaster (and cad) Rod. This unexpected fling resulted in shockingly decent  behavior on Sue’s part, before the inevitable shift back to cantankerous mode. It almost came as a relief.

The ep’s most hilarious moments came courtesy of Puck (Mark Salling), especially during a flashback to his family’s annual ritual of watching Schindler’s List and eating Chinese food off separate TV trays. After his mom expresses disappointment over the fact that he doesn’t date a nice Jewish girl, Puck dreams about Rachel and wakes up realizing that she “was a hot Jew and the good Lord wanted me to get into her pants.” Then after a steamy make-out session with the reluctant Rachel (who’s  still pining for Finn), he asks, “Are you questioning my badassness?” He later sings a tuneful version of “Sweet Caroline”– a tribute to “Jewish icon” Neil Diamond — to win her back. Go, Puck!

Oh, and Coach Ken, jealous of the obvious attraction between Will and Emma, makes his team choose between glee and football with predictable results.

Questions: When will Will realize that his wife is a conniving semi-bitch? When will Ken realize that being a consolation prize is not what he really wants? When will Rachel fall in love with Mr. Schue and have her heart broken yet again? When will Sue realize that adopting Quinn’s baby is exactly what she needs to be a complete woman?


Glee and Ghosts

Sue Sylvester

One of my favorite Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) quotes from last night’s Glee: ”I don’t trust a man with curly hair. I can’t help picturing small birds laying sulfurous eggs in there and I find it disgusting.” This episode was rife with funny lines, most of them courtesy of Lynch, whose haughty, preposterous character steals every scene she’s in. I’m not a betting woman, but I’d put money on an Emmy nomination (oh hell, Emmy win!).

Then there were the uniformly solid musical numbers, including a scorching rendition of Jill Scott’s “Hate on Me” featuring the fantastic Mercedes (Amber Riley) on vocals and Mike (Harry Shum Jr.)  popping, locking and generally looking amazing. Plus Kurt in a fluffy angora sweater. I’m beginning to love these “kids.”

No graceful way to segue into…

Steve and Tango

Steve and Tango (photo: Syfy)

…Interesting Ghost Hunters ep last night: The team investigated historic Fort Henry in Kingston, Ontario. Military sites are often hotbeds of paranormal activity, which makes sense considering the untimely deaths that often occurred in these places. Lots of spontaneously opening and closing doors at the fort, including one that slammed shut on demand. Plus weird knocking sounds from behind a glass wall in the officers’ quarters and a ghostly figure glimpsed by Grant. All very creepy. There were also some big, fat spiders lurking about to scare the bejesus out of poor arachnophobic Steve, who wonders about his condition, “How did this happen to me?” The comic relief provided by Steve’s many fears and Tango’s reactions is one of the show’s charms.

Speaking of which, there’s a new GH spin-off coming next month. According to Syfy: Ghost Hunters Academy features a group of college students, led by seasoned TAPS investigators Steve Gonsalves and Dave Tango, who search for the paranormal in haunted hotspots around the country and around the world.

The commercial almost gave the impression of a competition with shaky participants freaking out, but the official description doesn’t really sound like “American’s Next Top Ghost Hunter,” which is too bad. That would be very amusing.


Frankie’s First Cake

“For a certain breed of cake,” says Cake Boss Buddy Valastro, “you gotta come to me.” That sentiment was illustrated perfectly in one of last night’s episodes (originally aired several months ago). Buddy was hired to make a graphically gruesome cake for a Zombie Walk (?!) in Asbury Park and an erotic, stripper-themed cake for a bachelorette party. Was he up to the tasks? Hey, he’s not called Cake Boss for nothing.

The young couple ordering the zombie cake want it as bloody and gory as possible. Buddy jumps right on board, envisioning a ghoulish creature clawing his way out of the dirt in front of a tombstone

Finished Zombie Head

finished zombie head

with “a buffet of flesh and rotting things for the zombie to eat!” Though the bakery crew is initially grossed out, they are soon happily fashioning brains and bloody body parts from modeling chocolate. The result — composed mainly of red velvet cake, grey fondant and lots of red food coloring — delights the undead gathered at Zombie Fest, who immediately fall upon the cake and stuff their faces like something out of a George Romero movie. Buddy, a bit freaked out by their enthusiasm (and perhaps their scary makeup), is nonetheless proud of his work.

stripper cake is assembled

stripper cake is assembled (photo: TLC)

Since the stripper cake was ordered by the sister of Buddy’s assistant Tone Tone, the Cake Boss feels obligated to indulge her request for something erotic (plus you know he loves a good challenge). But, “No sexy cakes!,” yells Mama when she gets wind of the idea. “Exotic, erotic, no way, no how!” Buddy won’t be deterred and orders several of the girls to each sculpt an anatomically correct stripper out of modeling chocolate, then asks Tone Tone, since he’s gay, to make one too. Naturally Mama finds out and freaks out: “Not acceptable!” Buddy may be the cake boss, says Mama, but, “Who writes the checks at the end of the week?” “You,” mutter the shop guys, looking sheepish. The artists modify the strippers by clothing them in tiny edible shorts, except for Tone Tone’s outrageously well-endowed figure, who gets an apron, to be whipped off by Buddy upon delivery at the bachelorette party.

Mama approves (she apparently doesn’t realize what’s under the apron) and everyone’s happy, especially the girls at the party who scream as if they’re at a real strip club. You can understand the appeal of Buddy’s job. When was the last time people screamed with delight at your work?

The second episode featured a cake ordered by the Museum of Natural History for its indricotherium (huge, prehistoric animal) exhibit; Buddy makes the museum folks very happy with his immense, nearly 400-pound, mammal cake, though I’m not entirely sure if including  a little caveman (for size perspective) was paleontologically correct.

There was also an elaborate Sweet 16 cake, which included the birthday girl’s favorite things: city life and the beach (represented by shopping bags, a Starbucks cup, flip flops and seashells, among other edible decorations). Unfortunately, the cake is dropped down a flight of stairs on delivery day by Danny and cousin Anthony, who look appropriately horrified at the mess. Buddy loses it for a minute, then rallies his troops to drop everything and recreate the cake, which they do in and hour and a half flat. It arrives at the party on time and is a big success.

Also in this episode, Lil’ Frankie’s in a rut and we learn that he used to work on Wall Street, before Buddy gave him a job at Carlo’s. The big guy wants a chance to decorate his own cake and Buddy obliges by giving him the cake for Mary’s daughter’s dance recital after-party.  Of course the testy Mary is dubious and, unless I was hallucinating, I thought I heard her say something like, “No offense, but I consider him your bitch,” about poor Frankie. “She was being Mary,” explains Buddy. So, there’s a lot of pressure on Frankie and we see him staying late at the bakery fretting and decorating. But in the end he delivers a lovely ballet-themed cake to the party and Mary’s daughter Lucia looks delighted. Whew.


Not so gay divorcees

I really liked the challenge on Project Runway last night: the designers worked with divorced, or soon to be divorced, women (not models) who wanted their wedding dresses transformed into something wearable. There was lots of inspirational talk about moving on, reconstruction, etc. Unfortunately, the resulting garments included some truly awful looks:

Christopher's metallic garbage bag dress

Christopher's metallic garbage bag dress

Epperson's Oktoberfest dress

Epperson's Oktoberfest dress

Nicolas's pants ensemble

Nicolas's strange pants ensemble


Logan's awkward top 'n pants

I was very happy that Gordana’s dress won, though her model looks a bit possessed in this photo:


Most puzzling thing: the judges just loved Irina’s dress, calling it “age appropriate.” Really? What age might that be?! Though obviously very well made, it looked more than a little tacky to me. Especially those silly sleeves. And that sash:


Sadly, Epperson was eliminated despite having done strong work in past challenges, which is not supposed to count, but we all know that it does. His exit was very dignified and gracious, unsurprisingly. Classy guy.


More cake, please

I’m sorry to say I’ve managed to miss a couple of weeks of Cake Boss, but did catch a couple tonight. Nice to be back in the shop with Buddy e famiglia. The first episode, which must have originally aired last spring, featured Easter preparations at Carlo’s, including the traditional braided bread with hard-boiled eggs, a foodstuff that is crucial to my family’s celebration of the holiday. Interesting thing: Buddy’s eggshells are all white, rather than colored, like every egg-baked-into-bread I’ve ever seen. Hmmm.

As usual, there’s a lot of hectic running around and good-natured sibling bickering.  Mary will not stop complaining loudly and bitterly about some top-heavy cupcakes, causing Buddy to bellow repeatedly, “Go downstairs, Mary!” just to shut her up. Easter’s one of the busiest times of the year, but not all employees were working fast enough for Buddy. “I wanna see lightening bolts coming out of your butt!,” he exhorts the troops. They take it in stride.

Easter cakeThe big cake du jour, for the Hoboken Family Alliance Easter Egg Hunt, features a standing bunny that wobbles precariously, loses half its icing in the fridge, and has a nightmare-scary face (sorry, Buddy!). Despite all this, the cake makes it to the Hunt in one piece and is a big hit with the kids. Buddy also has to make three family birthday cakes; my favorite is a flowerpot with tulips (and edible dirt!) for Mama. Other scenes: Poor Lil’ Frankie (who else?) is forced to dress as the Easter Bunny and stand outside the shop giving out samples, and notorious non-cook Grace makes Easter dinner for the first time — for 30 people! — and is overwhelmed. But of course it all works out in the end with a little help from Buddy who pronounces the food “not horrible.”

In the second episode, a customer who orders a spectacular birthday cake every  year wants to outdo himself with a Tiki-themed cake that spews fire. Not a problem for Buddy, who creates a cake with torches, Hawaiian flowers and a big Tiki mask atop a volcano that spews fire (actually, a professional fire-breather standing behind it does). Of course it’s a huge hit at the guy’s party and, amazingly, nobody gets hurt.

Mauro mid-Tiki

Mauro mid-Tiki

Buddy also has to make a jewelry-themed cake for his sister-in-law’s shower; decorator Daniella (who studied sculpture and has a BFA; yes, these people are artists!) creates a delicate figurine wearing edible jewelry; it’s really lovely. Also in this episode: Buddy bets Mauro, who is accused of having a puss, that he (Buddy) can decorate a cake blindfolded. Naturally Mauro loses and must go upstairs dressed in a grass skirt and coconut-shell bra (over his t-shirt) greeting people in his gruff deadpan: “Aloha. Alright.” I so want to be part of this family!

(photos: TLC)


Someone’s Antonio

From the sublime (Mad Men) to the ridiculous (My Antonio). The latter is getting sillier by the week, it seems. To wit:

Playmate Christy beats ex-wife Tully for the Big Hot Mess award this week, as she drunkenly insists that she only had one glass of wine. “You’re sloppy drunk,” Miranda points out in an accusing tone. This sets Christy off on a rampage through the house. “I’m gonna knock that bitch out!,” she repeatedly threatens Miranda who, seemingly oblivious, is rummaging around in the kitchen muttering, “Does anyone know how to work this oven?”

“How dare her!,” Christy screams ungrammatically from somewhere in the house. “Who does she think she is?!” “Oh, we still have turkey!,” Miranda notes, her head in the fridge. Funny editing.

Brooke, who’s a nurse in real life, talks Christy down, using soothing tones and psychology. It seems to work. I’m predicting that the sunny, well-adjusted Brooke wins Antonio’s hand in the end.

Later Antonio appears bearing gifts and suggests a game of “Tony Says” (Simon Says). Turns out the girls are surprisingly bad at a game most of us mastered by the age of eight. Tully quickly wins, and her prize is some quality time in a hammock with A. They cuddle and talk, while the other girls spy.

Antonio_pineappleThen, a sculpting challenge. Antonio is unveiled, supposedly in the nude, but it’s clear he’s not really, despite a strategically placed pineapple obscuring his privates. “I feel like a big, Italian prosciutto,” he announces. Hmmm.

Autumn (who thoughtfully includes Antonio’s “package” in her sculpture) and Christy (who includes his dimples) win a joint date with him on a boat. It’s boring. There’s also disco dancing, which isn’t too exciting either.

Later at the house, Tully advises the young, unsophisticated Jessica: “On the red carpet with Antonio, you can’t say, ‘I’m down wit dat.'” Mean! But true.

At dinner, Antonio plays a prank by actually serving dessert instead of his usual “just desserts,” by which means someone is usually eliminated. The nut!

Instead, he takes Jessica for a walk and tells her that she’s young and has her whole life ahead of her, blah blah blah. Home she goes.

Next week: Acting!

March 2019
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