Television Man | Aidan Morgan | June 30, 2022
“If television be the food of waking up on the couch at 3 a.m., turn the channel” —Shakespeare probably
My Favourite Food Scenes in Television, Ranked in Order of Me Remembering Them
Spoilers follow for all shows mentioned, plus Titus Andronicus (1594)
10. 30 ROCK: “SEASON 4” (4.1) In the immortal words of Liz Lemon as the main characters take a seat at Season 4 (which is of course the number one Asian fusion restaurant in New York): “You take a hot dog. Stuff it with some jack cheese. Fold it in a pizza. You’ve got Cheesy Blasters! And then, all the kids say, ‘Thanks, Meat Cat!’ And then, Meat Cat flies away on his, um… skateboard.” If you don’t love the idea of Cheesy Blasters and the joined loop of high culture meeting mass culture, I don’t know what to tell you.
9. THE GOOD PLACE: “WHAT WE OWE TO EACH OTHER” (1.6) In the too-good-but-not-quite-great-to-be-true world of The Good Place, every single restaurant is a frozen yogurt place. In the words of Michael (Ted Danson): “There’s something so human about taking something great and ruining it a little so you can have more of it.”
8. IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA: “THE GANG GOES TO THE JERSEY SHORE” (7.2) In this holiday-themed episode, Frank (Danny DeVito) shares his fool-proof technique for sneaking booze to the beach: the “rum ham,” which is exactly what it sounds like. In a later episode Frank shares the rum ham recipe, which includes three bottles of rum and a gun for warding off “ham pirates”, because of course it does. If you don’t want to bother with handguns, the Internet is full of peaceful rum ham recipes.
7. I THINK YOU SHOULD LEAVE WITH TIM ROBINSON: “BABY CRIES” (2.2) What’s a sloppy steak? Turns out it’s a steak with a glass of ice water dumped on top. The episode culminates in a long flashback scene that demonstrates proper sloppy steak technique, which mostly consists of pouring water all over the steak and eating it quickly before getting kicked out of the restaurant.
6. SOUTH PARK: “SCOTT TENORMAN MUST DIE” (5.4) After falling victim to a series of mildly embarrassing pranks, Cartman stages a “Chile Con Carnival” in a bid to get massively disproportionate revenge on his nemesis Scott Tenorman. In a move straight out of Titus Andronicus (see, I told you I’d be spoiling it), he orchestrates the murder of Scott’s parents and tricks Scott into eating a bowl of Tenorman chili. As Scott sobs for his dead mother and father, Cartman licks the tears from his face, saying “Tears of unfathomable sadness…mmm, yummy”.
5. I LOVE LUCY: “THE DINER” (3.27) This episode is a shot of pure physical comedy. Lucy and Desi leave the music business and decide to start a diner, but the Mertzes start their own diner… in the same spot? What follows is an escalating series of ruthless business practices as “Little Bit of Cuba” and “Big Hunk of America” do battle.
4. THE SIMPSONS: “ONE FISH, TWO FISH, BLOWFISH, BLUE FISH” (2.11) Homer eats an improperly prepared fugu and, faced with the possibility of imminent death, makes a list of things to do before his heart explodes. The results are surprisingly touching and heartfelt as he connects with his family and sorts out what’s most important in his life.
3. SEINFELD: “THE RYE” (7.11) The best way to describe a Seinfeld episode is probably brittle people get incredibly upset over nothing at all. In “The Rye”, the nothing-at-all is a marble rye that threatens to spark a feud between George’s parents and his fiancée Susan’s family. Somehow the B-story about Elaine’s disappointment with her saxophonist boyfriend makes the marble rye plot even funnier.
2. WKRP IN CINCINNATI: “TURKEYS AWAY” (1.7) Thanksgiving episodes are a staple of American sitcoms but in all my days on this Earth, no Thanksgiving episode will match “Turkeys Away”. Station manager Arthur Carlson, refusing to listen to anyone else, plans a holiday promotional event we eventually learn consists of… chucking live turkeys out of a helicopter over a shopping mall parking lot. We don’t see it happen but the whole thing is narrated by horrified new anchor Les Nessman, who sounds like he’s describing the Hindenburg disaster.
1. TWIN PEAKS “They got a cherry pie that’ll kill ya!”