Friday, March 14, 2014

Pop Culture Cooking: Kitchens of the Airwaves



My good friend Kaki sent me a photo of a very familiar kitchen recently (the ever-recognizable 70's kitchen pictured above) and it got me to thinking about the evolution of pop culture kitchens on TV.  Over the years, my friends and I had spoken often of how our gatherings always seem to center in the kitchen and indeed, no matter what group of family and friends I may be with, we always seem to gravitate toward that bastion of all things edible.  Seeing the Brady Bunch kitchen reminded me of how many scenes of our beloved TV programs took place in the kitchen.  It's actually odd to see the Bradys' kitchen so empty when typically it was overrun by kids and managed by the irrepressible housekeeper Alice (played by Ann B. Davis).


The scene above is from the 50's sitcom The Honeymooners, a favorite of my folks, and many of the legendary squabbles between Jackie Gleason's Ralph Kramden and his wife Alice (played by Audrey Meadows) kicked up right there in that kitchen.  How many times did the immortal words "To the moon, Alice!" echo off those walls?

It seemed as if Monica's kitchen was the centerpiece of the majority of scenes in Friends.  Monica was herself a professional chef and so there was much cooking and eating going on here.  Many Thanksgiving dinners took place at this table; Rachel made her horrific English trifle dessert with beef here and Monica got all of her Friends to pitch in making party appetizers when she tried her hand at catering.  Friends is the K-man's all-time favorite show and he could probably quote these scenes verbatim.


My all-time favorite show, however, was a little confection of an HBO drama called Six Feet Under.  I loved every episode right up to and including the brilliant series finale, the cast was spectacular, the dialogue was rich and there were both warm and tense scenes that took place in this kitchen.  I miss this show, but it always holds a very special place in my heart.

 
So today, we just finished another season of BBC sensation Downton Abbey.  The hottest action of this stiff upper lip series takes place in the manor's kitchen.  This kitchen is always full of workers and frequently bustling and the conversations often sharp, but frequently hilarious.  Mrs. Patmore runs the kitchen with a small but certainly iron fist.  She is second only to the Countess Dowager when it comes to deadpan one-liners and most of them are directed toward her hapless assistant Daisy: "Daisy, I said you could go for a drink of water, not a trip up the Nile."
 
Of course, there are other favorite characters who didn't dig hanging out in the kitchen, but oh, how they loved going out to eat.  Those will be a post for another day...

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