As someone who writes about television for a living, it is my duty to begin at least one piece of writing per week by whining about how there are too many television shows these days, so let’s get that out of the way first: there are too many television shows these days. It’s just lunacy. There are known actors starring in second and third seasons of shows I’ve never heard of on networks I’m fairly certain don’t exist. Keeping up with it all is impossible, you’re missing so much good stuff, etc. etc. etc.
But there is a flip side to that coin, friends. And that flip side is that if there wasn’t this glut of programming and scramble to fill every hour with something that will physically grab viewers by the scruffs of their necks and point their faces toward the screen, VH1 might not be airing Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party, and that would be a travesty.
Oh, I’m sorry, did you not know that Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg have a cooking slash chat show that currently airs on a network that once showed Celine Dion music videos in half-hour blocks? Because they do. It’s incredible. It honestly might be the best show on television right now, which is a heck of a claim for me to make considering there have only been two episodes so far, but whatever. I stand by it. Snoop Dogg made Lobster Thermidor this week. Do better, Rectify.
Actually, let me back up for a second. Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party is kind of a mess. There’s barely a structure to it. It’s less of a cooking show than it is one of those chaotic five-minute cooking segments on a late-night talk show that someone stretched out into a full program, ingredients flying around almost willy-nilly as the whole thing struggles to stay on the rails. And Snoop Dogg is the straight man. Snoop Dogg takes a cooking show into and out of breaks with cue cards. That is something that happens multiple times in each episode. Bet you didn’t see that coming when Murder Was The Case dropped in 1994.
(A personal note: I asked my parents for Snoop’s Doggystyle album one Christmas as a kid and I was resoundingly denied. It’s still a little wild to trace his career trajectory from that guy who frightened suburban parents across the country to this guy who tells Martha Stewart that the secret ingredient in his fried chicken batter is crushed BBQ potato chips.)
But it’s such a fascinating mess. Martha and Snoop bring out celebrities and then pair off with them to prepare some sort of dish using a designated ingredient. Martha’s partners have been rappers both times so far, with Wiz Khalifa joining her to make fried chicken and Rick Ross joining her to make lobster. Martha Stewart’s chemistry with rappers is something to behold. Like, perhaps you read this description and thought that a wealthy 75-year-old white woman who lives on a farm in Connecticut would feel awkward around prominent figures in the hip-hop community. Well, if you thought that, you would be wrong, because Martha Stewart absolutely does not care who is standing next to her. Martha will cut anyone down. Rick Ross spent the entire second episode massaging her shoulders and playfully hitting on her, and at one point she just turned to him and said this.
This is more savage than any diss track since “Ether.” And it probably wasn’t even the best Martha Stewart moment in the first two episodes. After the cooking part of the show is over, everyone sits down at a table to eat the food and play little games. Here are a few things that happened during these segments:
- We learned that Martha Stewart has been struck by lightning three times, and when Seth Rogen inquired about this a little bit (as one does), Martha said this, which the most supervillain thing a non-supervillain has ever said: “Going to jail does not make you stronger. Only lightning makes you stronger.”
- After Martha showed everyone how to extract meat from a lobster, swimsuit model Ashley Graham politely asked “Is this how the majority of your dinner parties are? You’re always showing people how to eat food?,” to which Martha Stewart replied, “Well, no, most of my friends know how to do it.” Oh, Ashley. Oh honey. Oh no.
- During a show and tell segment, Martha Stewart pulled out a huge silver toilet paper holder and said this, which I will transcribe verbatim, because it is the kind of thing that requires accuracy: “I invited Barbra Streisand to stay at my house, and she didn’t like the fact that she had to turn slightly to reach the toilet paper. So the next thing I know, she is delivering these to my home so that you can put it in front of you.” This is the single most fascinating story I’ve ever heard. I’m not joking. I would read an entire book about it. I must know more about Barbra Streisand’s opinions regarding toilet paper.
It’s also worth noting here that the pairing of Martha and Snoop isn’t just for show. They are really friends. Or at least showbiz friends, which is real enough for our purposes here. They play off each other well, trading quips and jokes and leaning into their very different appearances for comedy, like a modern-day Laurel and Hardy, but if Laurel was a world famous rapper who loved weed and Hardy was a billionaire lifestyle magnate who had been to prison for insider trading. Otherwise, almost exactly the same. Please note this excerpt from an interview with Us as proof:
Us: You met years ago on Martha’s old talk show. What did you instantly like about each other?
SD: I love Martha’s uniqueness and the way she teaches. I’ve always been a student, so I want to learn.
MS: Isn’t that nice? I just liked his demeanor: laid-back, intelligent, fun.
Us: You clearly formed a special bond.
SD: It’s like superheroes: Batman and Robin!
MS: Who’s Batman and who’s Robin?
SD: You know you Batman, Martha!
Is the show perfect? Well, no. I mean, yes, it definitely is perfect, obviously, but it also is not. Some of the jokes are a little clunky, and a few times Martha has pushed really hard with the “Isn’t it funny how I am white but you are black?” thing, which made me cringe a little. And I’m not sure if this is a formula that can last, because at some point the novelty of it all will probably wear off and Martha and Snoop will get back to the other aspects of their very busy careers. But at the same time, who cares? It’s on now and it’s wonderful, and next week they are making Thanksgiving dinner with 2 Chainz. Don’t let the future ruin the present, people. This entire show is a gift.