What's cookin'? — The Lavender Tube on 'Recipe for Disaster,' climate frights and more

  • by Victoria A. Brownworth
  • Tuesday July 25, 2023
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A scene from The CW's 'Recipe for Disaster' (photo: Alameda Productions/The CW)
A scene from The CW's 'Recipe for Disaster' (photo: Alameda Productions/The CW)

It's officially the hottest June and July the world has ever known. While San Francisco enjoys its usual summer by the bay, the rest of the state is in a bizarre dystopian mix of still skiing in the mountains from record snows to broiling like catfish on a grill in non-stop triple digits temperatures.

Across the country in the Northeast, flooding rains from record heat-induced thunderstorms have swept whole towns. And in Canada and Europe, wildfires continue to burn without surcease. (Yahoo News, CNN, NPR)

As the writers and actors strikes continue to impact TV in a myriad of ways, a group of showrunners and producers held a panel on how to get the climate crisis issues to viewers.

Moderated by Emmy award-winning TV host Nina Parker, panelists include Emmy and Grammy winning producer/showrunner Rikki Hughes, Yasmin Shackleton (EP, "Next in Fashion," "Masterchef"), James Longman (Co-EP, "Late Late Show"), Andraéa LaVant (CEO, LaVant Consulting, Impact Producer for "Crip Camp"), and Cyle Zezo (Producer, "Penn & Teller: Fool Us," "Whose Line Is It Anyway").

This discussion focuses on climate justice and sustainability in unscripted TV. Highlighting leaders in front of and behind the screen, the conversation is followed by a facilitated audience discussion, providing attendees with the opportunity to brainstorm ways to integrate climate into unscripted content.

It's definitely worth watching as it explores all the ways we aren't and must address these critical issues which we know impact historically marginalized communities like LGBTQ people most.

Recipe for Disaster
Do we need another cooking show? Always. The CW debuts "Recipe for Disaster" in August (check local listings). In each episode, three professional chefs and friends compete to prepare spectacular dishes under "absurdly adverse conditions."

The CW says, "Our studio transforms into a bizarre new world each week, replete with themed disasters that challenge our chefs in ways they never imagined. They will attempt the perfect sear while stuck on a "sinking cruise ship" during a tropical storm, try their hand at risotto while bouncing in baby jumpers, or create an earth-shattering gnocchi with nothing but a chisel and rock hammer while dining with dinosaurs. They will attempt the perfect sear while stranded on an in-studio 'desert island' during monsoon season, prep ramen while pulling off an art heist, or create a show-stopping soufflé while dodging aliens on Mars. "

To make matters worse, the cooking buddies are people from their lives who are total kitchen novices. Who will impress the judges, and whose dishes will succumb to the not-so-ridiculous disasters du jour? Ultimately, only one team will be crowned Masters of Disaster.

Executive producer Cyle Zezo told NPR, "A couple of years ago, if you'd brought up talking about climate on screen, people would think it was crazy and they wouldn't even touch the subject." (NPR)

"Recipe for Disaster" even uses compost bins on set. Now, we're living climate crisis daily and there was even a Hollywood Climate Summit last month.

But as NPR reported, discourse on climate change is still rare on TV, despite the realities many of us live with. A University of Southern California study due out in the fall reveals "nearly 30,000 mentions of climate change-related keywords appeared across every category of unscripted TV between last August and this February."

Erica Rosenthal, director of research at USC's Norman Lear Center, the group behind the study told NPR, "That included home shows, food shows, docuseries, even sports. So that was really a surprising and exciting finding."

Since "Recipe for Disaster" raises the question and we are all recycling and upcycling already, the next step is: Do you have a compost bin in your kitchen? It's something we all can do and it's not as disgusting as you might think. (Bungalow.com)

"Smiley" is a delightful Spanish romantic dramedy series based on the play of the same name by Guillem Clua which stars Carlos Cuevas (Alex) and Miki Esparbé (Bruno). It's one of those shows you fall in love with watching the trailer because every single line is fabulous and it just gets better from there.

Netflix gives this oblique description: "Two men and their friends in Barcelona navigate hesitations, hang-ups and missed connections as they search for the true love they've been missing." We're telling you that Alex is heartbroken because he has just suffered a breakup. After asking for an explanation by voice mail, he mistakenly sends it to Bruno, whom he doesn't know. This error changes Alex and Bruno's lives as they navigate the hilarity—and where it leads.

Smiley also addresses those class and job strata issues that are often raised. Bruno is an architect, Alex a bartender. How much —outside of the gym— do they have in common?

You can binge all eight episodes of "Smiley" (the awful title refers to a critical emoji in the plot) in a weekend. Plus all the men are hot and believable and the other characters are very funny. And "Smiley" will make you laugh and feel good and don't we need that? Yes we do! (Netflix)

We're not sure how we missed this amazing series last year, but does it matter when we can watch it now? ABC has "The Golden Bachelor" and Netflix has "Queen."

Sylwester (Andrzej Seweryn, in an amazing performance), is a retired tailor and drag queen. He leaves his home in Paris where he is planning to move to the South of France after he receives a letter from a young woman who says she is his granddaughter and needs his help. Sylwester decides to return to his hometown in Poland, forcing him to face a difficult reckoning with his past—and come out into his present and future.

We found "Queen" absolutely mesmerizing and deeply moving. The Netflix original four-part drama series was written by the late Árni Ólafur Ásgeirsson and Kacper Wysocki, and is directed by Lukasz Kosmicki, best known for "The Coldest Game" and "The Dark House." The cast includes Loretta, Maria Peszek as Wioletta, Julia Chetnicka as Izabela, and several drag queens; in Polish, with subtitles. (Netflix)

First X
July is Disability Pride Month and the intersectionality of the LGBTQ and disability communities is the subject of director and writer Josiah Polhemus's film "First X."

The short film stars Nicole Adler and Lena Sibony and it will tear your heart out. As detailed by the producers, "Adler (28) is a two-time governor-appointed member of the State Council of Developmental Disabilities and takes her civic responsibilities seriously. She wants to make an impact on changing perceptions and accepting people for the way they are." That is, disabled.

Disabled people, especially those with intellectual disabilities, are roundly considered by non-disabled people as not sexual and definitely not LGBTQ. "First X" explores how wrong that perspective is; on YouTube, and well worth your time.

US Women's World Cup  

Soccer time
Finally, FIFA is on baby, and this is lesbian soccer queen Megan Rapinoe's final World Cup. We're rooting for an unprecedented third win for the USA team and our girl who has done so much for women in sports, LGBTQ people in sports, support for Black athletes and trans athletes and just a generally decent person who has changed how we look at women and sports. We hope she gets to take her team to victory once more.

The first U.S. Women's World Cup match July 22 drew a combined audience of 6.26 million on Fox and Telemundo, making it the most-watched soccer telecast in the U.S. since last year's men's World Cup final. It was also the largest combined English- and Spanish-language audience for a U.S. women's group stage match. And so exciting! The U.S. team welcomed newcomer Vietnam by slaughtering them 3-0. The next U.S. match is Wednesday night (July 26) against the Netherlands. (AP News)

So for the scary and the sweet, the sublime and the ridiculous, you know you really must start composting at home and stay tuned.

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