If you’ve been following Ree’s career as long as I have you might be dazzled, as I have, at her meteoric rise to success from blogger to big time blogger to book author to TV show host and now, no doubt, to million dollar enterprise a la Paula Deen, Rachel Ray, and The Barefoot Contessa. Anyone who watches these shows knows that you don’t watch them for the food and cookin and recipes – you watch them for the lifestyle the host is pushing. The same formula that draws millions of viewers to Ree’s blog every day is the same thing that will likely draw them to her TV show on the Food Network. But watch out, you might find yourself yearning to be one of those Stepford Wives, you know, an eager to please robotica?
I’m not really here to diss Ree, except to say that her blog and her show are really all about an illusion. In truth, she is not a mindless, husband-pleasing prairie wife – she is a shrewd businesswoman who works constantly, must micromanage every aspect of the illusion she puts forth, and probably doesn’t defer to her husband the way she does on the show. So much drama about Ladd’s aversion to vegetables! She wonders one day if she can coax her husband to TRY something with liquor in it. He’s so simple, is the message, and no way would he go for the high falootin’ city food she supposedly used to eat back in her big city days (she went to USC for a time and that qualifies her as a city girl who moved to the country – we actual city girls know that old Ree was always and will always be a country girl).
What’s unexpectedly revealing about the show, which supposedly shows a slice of life on the HUGE and powerful cattle ranch in Oklahoma is how dull as soup living in this world must be and how lovely the lens through which we see life is manufactured by Ree – she makes it look a hell of a lot more exciting than it is.
The husband, portrayed on the blog as a silent but intelligent hunk of man candy, his ass sculpted by Lee’s jeans caught by his pretend-horny wife’s camera. She gives us a world that simply does not exist because it is an imaginary world she herself created. This comes through more than ever on their TV show, which seems to illustrate how little she has to talk about with her husband (“will you try some arugula?” can only go so far and reminded me of every bad date I’ve ever had with someone I couldn’t talk to), how dressed up their ranch life really is and how they have to find work for themselves to do since there is NOTHING to do.
What we don’t see are the servants who tend to the garden, clean up the houses and probably nanny the kids. Supposedly they’re homeschooled but so far this little detail is left out of the show, perhaps because nowadays homeschooling comes with a stigma — these people believe the world is flat? Sooner or later they’ll have to address that but I wonder how they’ll do it – she’ll probably make an awkward joke which won’t be funny and will be followed by her uncomfortable laughter, which can be heard throughout the show.
Admittedly, Ree isn’t an actress – she would never pretend to be. She did a few awkward TV spots on Good Morning America and the Today Show before she got this gig but where Nigella Lawson and Ina Garten are naturals in front of the camera Ree is rigid, too controlled and doesn’t seem to be willing to show the world who she really is – this is also the problem — but ultimately the success — of her blog. There is no there there. Except that she is brilliant at what she does, has mastered the art of running a website in every way. She is, one must conclude, anything but an idiot.
Will Ree learn to loosen up? Will she start to show that she can actually have conversation about something other than butter? Butter butter butter butter – she pushes the stuff the same way all of the cooks on the Food Network do. What they don’t seem to get is this simple fact: we all know butter tastes good. We love butter. If we could eat butter all day long we’d be happy. But guess what? America is fat! Help us out, Food Network! Really? With the butter already? Isn’t Ree afraid she’s going to kill her husband with all of that saturated fat? Imagine the shit that dude must take every morning!
And while we’re complaining, I hate hate HATE how she has to always be the foil of every dumb joke – like “look at Ree try to herd horses,” “Look at Ree try to paint!” Meanwhile, she has zoomed ahead of every hick within a 100 mile radius, and that includes her own husband. Is this really how they want to show Ree is actually human? “See, we degrade and humiliate her on a daily basis, isn’t ranch life fun?”
But for some reason it’s hard to not watch Ree and her silly little life she’s trying to pass off to us all. Okay, Ree – you want to dish up a fairy tale, I’ll take it. Because guess what: life is suffering, as the Buddhists say, and why not indulge in a fairy tale now and again.