Welcome to the last weekend in January, the perfect time to lock yourself in your home with some of the best things to eat, drink, and watch. I’ve got recommendations for an irresistible British show and two basic cable winners, plus some entertainment news down below. Without any further ado…
A journey into the absurd world of Delicious
If you’re starting to feel fatigued by the glut of po-faced food documentaries (Chef’s Table, The Last Magnificent) and unintentionally hilarious chef sagas (Feed the Beast, Burnt), Delicious, a four-part miniseries from Sky TV, might be the perfect palate cleanser. This series — which is now available stateside on AcornTV, Amazon, and iTunes — uses the culinary world as a backdrop for a frothy good time. It may very well be the first (and maybe last?) great culinary soap opera of the “Golden Age of Television.”
The action in Delicious revolves around the life of Leo Vincent, a swarthy celebrity chef who runs an esteemed hotel restaurant in bucolic Cornwall, England. He’s played by Iain Glen, the Scottish actor who you may know as Ser Jorah Mormont, the guy who teaches Khaleesi how to be the Mother of Dragons on Game of Thrones. Leo is cheating on his wife Sam (Emilia Fox) with his ex-wife Gina (played by UK comedy legend Dawn French). The chef’s two comely kids, Teresa (Tanya Reynolds) and Michael (Ruairi O’Connor), get swept up in the drama, and their familial lives are further complicated by the fact that they have… strange and inappropriate feelings for each other. It doesn’t take long for the Vincent family’s life to unravel, but ultimately, the show tells the story of how two enemies band together to save the family business.
All the food in Delicious is over the top — especially in the steamy sex scenes between Vincent and Gina, which look like a cross between 9½ Weeks and a Peter Paul Rubens oil painting. Everyone in the show cooks, eats, and drinks with gusto, and the romantic overtures are equally grand and just as silly. Even in the show’s most ridiculous moments, though, the action stays tethered to earth thanks to great performances and smart direction.
If the average soap opera is like a slice of birthday cake — satisfying, but easily forgettable — Delicious is more like a Viennetta: frilly, multi-layered, slightly drippy, and best enjoyed in one sitting, ideally with a few friends.
Streaming recommendations du jour
Crashing, “The Atheist”
Stream it on: HBO Now/Go
The gist: The second season of this comedy finds hapless-but-affable square Pete Holmes, playing a version of himself, working as a Cold Stone Creamery employee by day and a comedy club barker by night. After a choice encounter with magician/all-around deep thinker Penn Jillette shakes something loose in Pete’s brain, he decides to embark on a night-long journey through the bars, burlesque parlors, and comedy clubs of Lower Manhattan. It’s a refreshing season opener that adheres to the best tropes of the “one crazy night” genre. Hopefully, Season 2 will feature more episodes like this where Pete keeps catapulting himself out of his comfort zone.
Divorce, “Happy Now”
Stream it on: HBO Now/Go
The gist: If you’ve ever felt sad and/or annoyed after cooking a special meal only to find that your guests just don’t care about the food very much, you might relate to Tracy Letts’s character, Nick, in this criminally underrated HBO dramedy. He’s a recently retired lawyer who takes up cooking elaborate tasting menus for his wife Diane (played by Molly Shannon) to fill up all his free time. When Frances (Sarah Jessica Parker) comes over for dinner one night, Nick has a hilarious meltdown upon discovering that one of the other guests won’t eat his flambéed duck breast due to its high cholesterol content. Elsewhere in this episode, Frances’s ex Robert (Thomas Haden Church) forgoes a romantic fling to eat taquitos and schnitzel at an elementary school “international night.”
And on another streaming note:
Now that the bottom half of the contestants have been eliminated, and the tensions between the competitors are starting to flare up, this is the perfect time to start watching Top Chef: Colorado. This season features an especially talented and surprisingly clique-ish batch of competitors. Tanya Holland’s elimination last week was easily one of the most surprising and dramatic moments on the show in recent memory. If you’re watching along, swing by Eater’s Facebook page for a discussion of the show on Fridays after new episodes air on Bravo (it’s also available to stream on either YouTube or Amazon Video).
And in other news…
- Knife Skills, a 40-minute doc about a Cleveland restaurant that employs formerly incarcerated individuals, scored an Oscar nomination this week.
- The Big Sick’s star/co-writer Kumail Nanjiani also got an Oscar nomination. I’m happy to see that, despite all the fame and accolades, Kumail still found time to film this hilarious sketch about gourmet disaster kits for Portlandia. He’s now appeared on all seven seasons of the hit IFC sketch show.
- On Tuesday, This Is Us fans learned that a faulty Crock-Pot killed Milo Ventimiglia’s character Jack, but the manufacturer of the slow cooker insists that this plotline is implausible.
- Matt Tyrnauer’s disco documentary Studio 54 is one of the big hits of this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Variety’s Owen Gleiberman writes: “The film shows you the club from every angle, and seems to be gawking at every patron. It puts us right inside.” No word yet on when it will land in theaters.
- Several of Hollywood’s most prominent food nerds attended the friends and family preview of David Chang’s LA hotspot Majordomo on Monday night.
- Andrew Zimmern’s hit series Bizarre Foods returned to the Travel Channel on Tuesday night with an episode focusing on Minnesota’s Paul Bunyan Trail.
- Hot rumor: Mary Berry might be teaming up with Paul Hollywood for the next season of The Great American Baking Show.
- And finally, Anthony Bourdain has four comic books coming out over the next few month. They’re all $3.99, and they look pretty cool.
Have a great weekend, and if you decide to take a plunge into the sultry/absurd world of Delicious this, perhaps consider making a hearty Italian dish for yourself like this terrific pasta carbonara from All About Eggs, the last book from the publishers of Lucky Peach (RIP).