Disgraced foodperson and deep-fryer of things Paula Deen has launched a new digital network this week, and apparently it’s as awful as it sounds. Clearly, Deen hopes that the subscription-based network — which charges $9.99 per month for access to all things Deen (churned through a lean and clean PR machine) — will be her big comeback after she torched her career last year by using racial slurs.
The Paula Deen Network promises that users will have access to video content like cooking shows, recipes, a self-produced documentary (to be released next year), and naturally, game shows. It sounds like a butter-coated nightmare and one brave Businessweek writer, Felix Gillette, took it for a spin.
Turning to Deen for healthy food is like turning to the National Football League for moral nourishment. — Businessweek
According to Gillette, the site is apparently "teeming" with "flamboyant" Southern recipes like "Deep-fried Savory Chicken Pie" and "Cheesecake Surprise Pops." It's possible to "stumble upon a vegetable," but "turning to Deen for healthy food is like turning to the National Football League for moral nourishment—misguided, at best." Also Paula is "inescapable" and is literally everywhere: "She narrates recipes. She anchors the stove. She does lifestyle segments, strolling through the streets of Savannah," and weirdly, she works out with a squad of teenage cheerleaders. Seriously, you cannot escape her: "Everywhere you look on the new site, Deen is front and center, tossing out catchphrases, frying meat, and cackling wildly."
Gillete does admit that the network "feels richly designed overall." This is perhaps because Deen is bankrolled by Najafi Companies, a private equity company with very, very deep pockets. The Huffington Post points out that even if only three percent of her 4.5 million followers subscribe for a year, "she'll net $17 million — the amount she made as a Food Network star the year before the scandal." So even if most people don’t buy into her deep-fried butter-coated wreck of a network, Deen will probably be just fine.