After watching every episode of Black Mirror in a span of five days, I desperately needed something easy on my mind. So I did just that, and watched Joe Swanberg’s mumblecore masterpiece, Easy. Since there were only eight episodes, that only took me two days. My appreciation of classic horror and overly dramatic high school stories led me to test the waters of MTV’s Scream, and I was hooked. This is also when I realized my irritation with food in television shows—why are my beloved characters not eating three meals a day?
As a self proclaimed Gilmore Girls enthusiast, I’d love nothing but to immerse myself in the cozy town of Stars Hollow– if nothing more than for the lack of food guidelines: Pop Tarts everyday, an infinite stream of coffee, and no judgements if you eat a second dinner. It’s an environment of acceptance, free of health labels, full of food comas. Watching Rory and Lorelai tackle pizzas and tacos is endearing, their relationship holding a strong basis within their love for takeout. Transitioning between Gilmore Girls and more mystery focused shows, I guess it is expected that junk food obsessions won’t necessarily be a central component, but it definitely sheds light on the need for ordinary tasks as a common ground.
While the characters in Scream’s lives are traumatic and honestly too much of a rollercoaster for people under the age of twenty, I’d like to see them eat breakfast, at the least. There’s no way they could consistently avoid a crazed murderer on their diets that appear to be coffee, and that’s it. Except there was that one episode in season two where Emma told her mom she was going to get breakfast with someone. Enter Emma’s breakfast: a cup of coffee. That’s not breakfast, Emma—it’s not even a snack! Now, I understand the argument that directors and producers don’t really want us hearing all the chomping and chewing—fair enough. But, at least do what Gossip Girl does so well, and show us a spread!
I started asking friends, and even teachers, what their thoughts were. Most responded with, “You’re not supposed to see them eat, you’re supposed to see their drama.” After a further discussion, I realized that the root of the problem is my desire for characters to be as human and relatable as they can be. No, I don’t want to live in an episode of Black Mirror (although lately, it sort of feels that way) or experience a second around a zombie, but I want to know what my favorite character’s preferred flavor of pie is. Food connects us, and it does have its time in the spotlight quite frequently, ala Chopped and Kitchen Nightmares. But reality TV aside, I’d like to know the little details. Maybe that’s why I cling to Twin Peaks—donuts and pie are in every episode.
I was able to round up some prime examples of culinary moments on television:
The X- Files, season 3 episode 12: Scully finally sits down to enjoy a salad, but Mulder calls and interrupts, of course. Later in this episode, he interrupts her eating ice cream.
Wow, that cake looks KILLER! Too bad no one ever got to eat it. Thanks, Scream.
Come on, you can’t fight A without actually eating that food. Let’s not even get into Allison’s bachelorette party.
The Bachelor, satisfying my simple television wishes. This came from a great Bustle article, concerning the food on those Bachelor/Bachelorette dates. Also yes, that is a Voodoo donut.
Moreover, the root of my question stems from my motive when I watch television: semi-relatable characters making light of rather terrifying situations. Similarly to Abbi and Ilana’s brilliant inauguration day video, Ilana makes a point to mention the lack of food– one of the reasons I adore and cherish her, and Broad City as a whole. Maybe the answer lies within the emotional connection that food provides– after all, it does bring us together. In Cody C. Delistraty’s piece for The Atlantic, titled, “The Importance of Eating Together,” Delistraty waxes poetic on the power of food: “It was therapeutic: an excuse to talk, to reflect on the day, and on recent events. Our chats about the banal—of baseball and television—often led to discussions of the serious—of politics and death, of memories and loss. Eating together was a small act, and it required very little of us—45 minutes away from our usual, quotidian distractions—and yet it was invariably one of the happiest parts of my day.” It is fulfilling to watch our beloved characters grow into the inspiring humans they become (here’s looking at you, Amber), and sometimes watching them share a wholesome meal with quality conversation can be even more heartwarming.
Virginia Croft is really enthusiastic about baby bears and Michael Cera’s existence. She also writes for Paste and Treble Zine, and tweets semi-witty things here.