Moments into the new VH1 Martha and Snoop Dogg cooking/freak show, viewers are treated to jokes about pot, porn and profanity. What fun!
The show hardly mirrors the much-talked-about trailer, which went viral almost immediately after VH1 released it last month. In that trailer, Martha and Snoop look relaxed as they dance and flirt. They look like they’re genuinely having fun. Yet in the series opener, the cohosts look stiff and scripted and totally uncomfortable. Of course, that’s what tends to happen when fun is forced.
First, Martha announces that she and Snoop are going to be making fried chicken and then tries, unconvincingly, to appear conversational while reading her teleprompter and saying, “There exists around one million Instagrams hashtagged with ‘fried chicken,’” though no one really thinks Martha has any idea what Instagram or hashtags really are. Nor does she care. But this is a vehicle to entertain the show’s intended demographic—young people, who tend to be big consumers of social media platforms like Instagram.
Snoop then makes an awkward joke about how there’s more of those hashtags if you include the word “thighs.” Get it? Thighs . . . like a woman’s thighs. Even their Ed-McMahon-like sidekick announcer looked like he hurt himself trying to smile (actually, watching this guy continually try to fake smiles and belly laughs is maybe the best part of this pretty awful show).
Next, Snoop stares into his own teleprompter and says, unconvincingly, that he has a “beef” with Martha. Martha then pivots, robot-like, to look into one of the side cameras, feigns concern and with her typical flat tone, perfect annunciation and hard T’s, explains: “I simply said I make fried chicken a wee bit beTTer than Snoop.” This is met with feigned shock by the audience and also by Snoop (who also covers his mouth in a strange girlish affectation).
But perhaps the weirdest part of the show occurs when a guest, the rapper and songwriter Wiz Khalifa, is introduced and brings Martha a hostess gift. What could it be? Well, if Khalifa had referenced Martha Stewart’s own magazine, he would have found a wealth of ideas. In “36 Unique Hostess Gift Ideas From Our Editors” Martha suggests personalized coasters, tapered candles, fruit-infused vinegars, tea sachets, or a rosemary tree. How lovely.
Yet, on the Pot Luck show, Khalifa brought Martha a big bag of marijuana (his own special blend called Khalifa Kush or KK). As he hands it to her, Martha giggles much like my mother does when someone gifts her with one of those DIY mason jar hot cocoa craft projects that are filled with dry cocoa and sugar and come with a taped-on chocolate dipped plastic spoon. Martha then tries to pretend she doesn’t get what’s happening and lamely plays it off like she just received some garden herbs (with a hard H, that is). But this was too contrived even for the groupies in the audience. One wonders if they actually have to pipe in laughter during the editing process. The other special guest, actor Seth Rogan, stood watching this bizarre display and then interjected with a reality check, saying, “This is the weirdest group of people on a stage today.”
Indeed. And it was sort of sad, but only for Martha. Once the grand dame of home entertaining, a paragon of proper manners, good taste and high standards, now Martha is desperately trying, like so many stars who were big in the 1980s and 1990s, to stay relevant in a world that moves quickly and has also become increasingly vulgar.
Her new show this isn’t just a betrayal of Martha’s own high standards; it’s a betrayal of her loyal fans who for years have aspired to the sort of homemaking and entertaining that Martha created in her own (much bigger and more expensive) home as a guide for other women. Martha was always supposed to be aspirational and inspirational.
But Hollywood loves a train wreck, even though viewers have grown weary of the kind of show setup that tears down traditions and standards in the name of shock and laughs. As for Martha, it’s a bit baffling that she sees nothing wrong with dismantling the decades of hard work she put in to make us all a bit more civilized and to make the world a bit more beautiful.
That’s not a good thing.