It's not hard to see why Rachael Ray has always had her detractors: gourmets shudder at her sammys, the dignified pale at her cutesy neologisms, the ambitious tear their hair at her seemingly effortless success, feminists shake their heads at her cheesy lad mag spread, and anyone who's waited table grits her teeth when she shafts servers to make her $40/day cutoff. But. Besides life being too short for this sort of thing, lately the vitriol seems to have toned down considerably.
Shortly after the founder rachaelraysux hung up her caddle prod, citing no wish to "dwell on someone who irritates the shit out of me," Salon's Rebecca Traister posts an essay reluctantly defending the "30-minute peddler of EVOO and perpetual pep." Traister's ire was aroused when interviewer Cynthia McFadden, after questioning Ray on her infamous FHM spread, asked the wildly successful entrepreneur if, because she's childless, she's "missing something." Traister interpreted this bit of faux-concerned insolence, not shockingly, as the sort of intrusive domestic cliche that a male celebrity most likely wouldn't have had to deal with, and was impressed with Ray's good humor. Of course, given the demographic which has made Ray a household name - probably largely moms - it may be a question that's of more interest to her fan base than to most people, which may go some ways towards explaining Ray's patience. We've certainly explored the sort of double-standard questions like this suggest, and we've also seen celebrities respond with less grace, so it's true that Ray comes off well. And, as Traister notes, she's a very good sport about those legions of detractors too, noting, "I have a ridiculous voice...I don't make my own pierogies. They're all right."
And let's face it: half the reason everyone is easing up on Ray-Ray is that there's a new girl in town. Next to Sandra Lee, after all, Ray is downright cordon bleu, her success a virtual tribute to Horatio Alger-style hard work. Who can object to Everyday With Rachael Ray when Sandra's got her own magazine, filled with tablescapes and seasoned salt, for the purists to cry over? I'm not suggesting that we transfer any energy to Lee-bashing, because clearly she appeals to some and must bring joy and fun to a lot of people...right? But as in so many cases, it's wise to remember the immortal words of the rabbi in the Isaac Bashevis Singer story: "It could always be worse."
Rachael Ray and the mother of annoying questions [Salon]