For 24 hours, one brave woman forced herself to watch, Clockwork Orange-style, something horrible: The Esquire Network, a cable channel named for an irritating men's magazine. What follows is her story.
As you already know if you are a sophisticated modern fancy-lad, Esquire (a.k.a. Condescending Neckties: The Magazine) has a television network now! Finally—a TV channel that MEN can enjoy. Looking to court "metrosexuals" turned off by "downmarket" male networks such as Spike and History (because history is male, apparently), the Esquire Network will focus on "cooking, fashion, politics, and so forth" with absolutely zero programs featuring grubby peasants digging through other people's trash. The Esquire Network, like its eponymous magazine, is hella hella classy.
Fun fact: I, too, am classy! I own a solid maple (NOT particle board!) dining table and
four wine glasses three wine glasses, you guys. I'm the man now, dog. And therefore, in order to gauge just how much manliness and class Esquire can pack into one television network, my boss ordered me to watch it for 24 hours nonstop (also because my boss hates me). Twenty-four hours. With no sleeping. Just me and Esquire. It would be a manly night indeed.
In preparation, I set some personal goals:
1) Find out what classy modern men are into that makes them just so damn classy.
2) See if 24 hours of pure man-media will make me any more manly.
3) Eat snacks.
My 24-hour journey into the dark heart of the Esquire Network began at 2 pm on Tuesday and would conclude at 2 pm on Wednesday. I assembled my snacks and my nest. (Slightly terrified at the prospect of being chained to this less-than-full-length couch for 24 hours, I went a little survivalist-bonkers at the store. Don't be jealous.)
Here's what happened, hour by hour.
2 pm - 7 pm: Top Chef Las Vegas
I clocked in halfway through a marathon of the season of Top Chef that's set in Las Vegas and ends with Squaresville Voltaggio facing off against Rock 'n' Roll Voltaggio. I had already seen it (duh), but, per my instructions, I watched it for five hours anyway. Rock 'n' Roll Voltaggio is almost disqualified for riding his skateboard too fast and playing his saxophone too loud, but he eventually defeats Squaresville Voltaggio by not being a human sleeping pill.
(My favorite thing about cooking shows like Top Chef and Chopped is that the dude chefs are fucking ALWAYS like, "I think my biggest competition is definitely [other male chef]." Linemouth, bros. Kristen is a BOSS. Also, cooking competition show producers, please let me be a guest judge on your show—any show—it is literally the only thing I care about including breathing and my own family.)
Mental state: Chipper. Number of chest hairs: Zero. Snack level: I ate the sushi.
7 pm - 9 pm: The Transporter 2
The Transporter 2 is a Jason Statham movie, which is like the Rolls Royce of Michael Jordans of movie genres for dudes. Nice get, Esquire Network.
The reason dudes like Jason Statham so much is because he is a man who is also a car that is also a gun.
In The Transporter 2, Jason Statham plays a Jason Statham who drives really good and beats up all the guys. At one point he chases a school bus with a jet-ski, and then later he chases a helicopter with a car. (Is there anything worse than when you need to catch a school-bus and realize you forgot your jet-ski!?) There's also a scene in a boat warehouse where he punches his fists into two coconuts and then uses his coconut-hands to bonk a villain 2 death. Because apparently someone in Hollywood has been peeking at my erotic vision board.
Transporter 2 was a little confusing, because some bonehead at the Esquire Network programmed the TV guide thingy to say that it was Transporter 1, so when I tried to clarify some extremely complex plot points on the Wikipedia page for Transporter 1 I was like, I HAVE BEEN WATCHING THIS MOVIE FOR 45 MINUTES AND I HAVEN'T SEEN SHIT ABOUT A CHINESE HUMAN TRAFFICKING RING AND LITERALLY NOBODY IS IN FRANCE. Then I had to sleuth out the truth all by myself and I felt like the Transporter so I punched my house down.
Mental state: Would definitely let Jason Statham "chase my school bus" on his "jet-ski." Number of chest hairs: How many chest hairs is Jason Statham looking for? Am willing to invest in chest-Bosley. Snack level: Ate some chocolate, erotically.
9 pm - 10 pm: Knife Fight
Finally! Some Esquire Network original programming! Time to really see what's what. Knife Fight is a 30-minute cooking competition show hosted by Ilan Hall, winner of Top Chef season 2, who is kind of like a regular boy chef except MORE BAD. You can tell that Knife Fight is a bad-boy chef show because the contestants spend a lot of time stabbing live catfish in the brainz on-camera and the judges are people like "guy from Bad Religion" and "Eric from Tim and Eric" and Bijou Phillips is there for no reason, and also because at the beginning Ilan yells, "THIS IS NOT YOUR MOTHER'S KITCHEN SHOW" right in your stupid face. Take that, YOUR MOTHER.
This show is fine. It gave me kind of grumpy flashbacks to living in L.A. (they literally go to Sunset Junction to shop for sarsaparilla bark, so TTYL, eyeballs), but I'm a total sucker for any and all non-cupcake cooking shows, even ones in which they say with a straight face, "If there's ever been a punk cooking show, this is it."
If there's ever been a punk sentence, that is not it.
OH BUT THEY SHOWED TWO EPISODES AND IN THE 2ND EPISODE CJ JACOBSEN WAS ON AND HE'S MY BOYFRANE, SO.
(To reiterate: Hello, new baby cooking show, you should pick me to be a guest judge. I am sorry I made fun of your sarsaparilla bark thingy, kind of. I love snacks and you. I totally thought Ilan was hunkier than Sam. Marcel sux. Pick me.)
Mental state: Mild eyestrain. Number of chest hairs: Still zero, duh. I can barely grow leg hair. Snack level: Shoveled caesar salad out of boredom.
10 pm - 11 pm: Brew Dogs
Okay. Okay. Okay. Okay. Okay. Okay. Are you ready? Are you prepared for Brew Dogs? Because this is where the Esquire Network goes off the raaaaaaaaaaails!!!!!
Brew Dogs is the tale of two plucky Scottish lads who like beer a lot. Just how much do they like beer, you're probably not wondering, because who sits around and wonders about the quantities of unquantifiable concepts like that? Well, dear viewer, these guys like beer SO MUCH that "they've even brewed beer at the bottom of the north Atlantic"!!! [Blurry footage of two people SCUBA diving, Scottishly.]
Which brings up the burning question at the heart of every fucking second of Brew Dogs:
WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS.
WHY WOULD YOU BREW BEER AT THE BOTTOM OF THE NORTH ATLANTIC, AND HOW IS THAT EVIDENCE OF BEING THE WORLD'S #1 BEER FAN AND NOT THE WORLD'S #1 WORST PLAN-MAKER.
The premise of Brew Dogs is that the two dudes travel the globe visiting all the best craft breweries, teaching the viewers about the mechanics of beer, and brewing totally X-TREME new beers where'er they go. Along the way, they've vowed to convert "one million craft beer virgins" [Honey Boo-Boo dry-heaving dot gif].
In this first episode, the Brew Dogs head to San Diego, which is apparently populated with "hop maniacs" and therefore very very famous for crafting the finest muffins and IPAs in all the land. After stopping by a local brewery to let the proprietor know that they're about to do his job better than him, the lads get started on their mission to brew THE ULTIMATE SAN DIEGO BEER [ELECTRIC GUITAR RIFF]. They decide that to really make it the ultimatest, they need to add three X-TREME San Diego ingredients.
The first ingredient they choose is kelp from the Pacific Ocean. Sensibly, the Brew Dogs realize, to harvest the kelp they'll definitely 100% need to go surfing [acoustic guitar riff]. So they do that [ukulele string breaking].
The second ingredient they choose is THE HOTTEST CHILI PEPPER ON THE ENTIRE EARTH [MONSTER TRUCK CRUSHING THE KOOL-AID MAN]. This pepper is so spicy, it's way more like poison than food [Kool-Aid Man poisoning 100 stegosauruses]. What a great "ingredient" to put in your food! You are truly crafting the most x-tremely unpleasant thing-to-put-in-your-mouth that San Diego has seen since the Real World! (Heyo!)
The third ingredient that they choose is rosemary. [Jemima Puddle-Duck poking through the medicine cabinet for some Zzzquil.]
So, it's time to brew the ultimate San Diego beer, right? WRONG. That wouldn't be x-treme at all, bozo. There's one more step: "All that remains is to figure out a way to brew it that's never been done before."
Okay. How about...IN A MOVING TRAIN?
Okay, so the thing about a moving train is that it's a train. It's not a brewery. So in order to turn it into a brewery, they have to build a brewery in it. That results in the Brew Dogs having this conversation (paraphrased) with the guy who manages the historic train car that they rent for their horrible fucking idea:
Brew Dogs: So, how much of this dumb furniture can we get rid of?
Normal Human Man: None of it. This is a historic train car. The seats are bolted down.
Brew Dogs: Okay, so where can we put the open propane flames?
Normal Human Man: You cannot have open propane flames on a moving train car. It is literally the law.
Brew Dogs: [Confused silence.]
Normal Human Man: Let's back up. Do you know what a train...is?
Brew Dogs: [PEEL OUT IN A LAMBORGHINI SHAPED LIKE AN AIR JORDAN]
Leaving their engineer "friend" to sort out how to make beer in a train that is very much not a brewery, the Brew Dogs head to an old folks' home to try and convert some "craft beer virgins." They play dominos with some hornay old ladies and one of the Brew Dogs takes his top off. The ladies are like, "OooooOOOOooOooOOooOoh, don't mind if I DO!!!" and they all laugh. (Idea for a Brew Dogs spin-off: Old Chicks Gotta Have It! in which the Brew Dogs go around taking their tops off in front of old chicks who gotta have it.)
Meanwhile, the engineer guy has wasted an unjustifiable amount of his life making this completely unnecessary gimmick work for no reason whatsoever. Huzzah! (Don't forget, guy: all of your work is going to get thrown in the garbage later!) The Brew Dogs go over to the train station to recruit some passengers for their beer train, a process that goes something like this:
Brew Dogs: Are you waiting for a train?
People Just Trynna Live: Yeah.
Brew Dogs: Well have you ever ridden a train...WITH BEER?
People Just Trynna Live: I mean...you can buy, like, Amstel Light on the Amtrak—
Brew Dogs: BREW DOGS!!!
Then they kidnap the people and force them to ride on their Willy Wonka helltrain to nowhere that probably smells like molten ass, because have you ever walked past a brewery, man? It's like a paper mill fucked a hard-boiled egg. Now imagine that's happening, plus you're locked in a Pringles can with two lunatic Scotsmen.
As it turns out, it's not easy to brew beer on a moving train, mainly because brewing beer involves vats of boiling liquid, and a moving train is a train that is moving. I'm pretty sure that's at least in the top 5 reasons why people brew beer in breweries instead of on fucking trains.
Train ride over! Now it's time to drink the beer! The Brew Dogs corral all these people in some sort of oubliette and make them all drink the kelp-poison-rosemary train-beer. Everyone's pretty nice about it because they're on TV, and you can't help but want to root for the Brew Dogs because of their x-treme pluckiness, but basically all the beer-testers say various iterations of, "I wouldn't just drink it, per se, but I acknowledge that it is indeed beer," and "HOOOOOOO, WOW, OKAY, THIS IS VERY SPICY FOR WHAT IS TECHNICALLY SUPPOSED TO BE A HUMAN BEVERAGE AND NOT A CHEMICAL WEAPON."
On the next episode of Brew Dogs, set in San Francisco, "we're going to take a fog, turn it into a beer, and turn it back into a fog." Yo, for the two guys in the world who like beer the most, you sure seem to put a lot of obstacles in between you and actually drinking beer. But you do you, Brew Dogs.
I am going to watch every episode of this show ever made, and when it gets canceled I am going to write an outraged letter to everyone. On earth.
Mental state: Probably the happiest I've ever been in my life? Number of chest hairs: BREW DOGS. Snack level: BREW DOGS!!!!!
11 pm - 2 am: Then they just showed those same episodes of Knife Fight and Brew Dogs over and over
Unfortunately for me, the Esquire Network didn't debut all four of its original series on the same night, so I didn't get to see their other two shows: Dirty Guys Running and Joel McHale Sitting in a Porsche and Being Like, "Shaving!" (Or whatever.)
Instead, I watched those two Knife Fight episodes again, and then those same two Knife Fight episodes again, and then Brew Dogs again, and then I watched my inky soul climb out of my mouth and crab-walk up the wall into the darkest corner, where it lay in wait, hissing through glittering teeth, for a new host with a less ludicrous job.
Mental state: HssssssSSsSsSsssSSsssssssss. Number of chest hairs: HhhhhhsssssssSsSsssSSSssssssSSSSsssSSSSsssssssssSSsSSssss. Snack level: CHSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS.
2 am - 3 am: Two episodes of Sex and the City
What secrets are the Esquire men learning from Sex and the City in the dead of night? I don't fucking remember, dude. Samantha made some sort of sexual innuendo about a pepper grinder. That counts as an A-story on that show, right?
Mental state: >:-( Number of chest hairs: ( . Y . ) Snack level: - — - c===3
3 am - 6 am: Infomercials
This was a monstrous three-hour-long fever dream in which Steve Gutenberg and Chuck Norris took turns screaming at me about my abs, and then Rudy Giuliani popped up to "expose the shocking truth about identity theft" on a fake talk show hosted by Montel Williams called Living Well with Montel. Here is an excerpt taken directly from my notes:
it's there all thetime
hot polish gel nails one aat ome time
the police caanot help yuo
Yeah, man, you should be scared. It's there all the time. THE POLICE CANNOT HELP YOU.
Mental state: Christie Brinkley. Number of chest hairs: Steve Gutenberg. Snack level: Living well with Montel.
6 am - 2 pm: Clean House
OH, GOOD MORNING! THIS IS A SHOW WHERE IF YOU HAVE A MESSY HOUSE SOME TV PEOPLE COME OVER AND DRAG ALL YOUR SHIT OUTSIDE, AND THEN NIECY NASH HELPS YOU HAVE A GARAGE SALE, WHICH BASICALLY MEANS THAT SHE YELLS AT YOUR NEIGHBORS UNTIL THEY BUY YOUR GARBAGE.
AND ALSO THIS GUY IS CONSTANTLY MAKING LIFE UNCOMFORTABLE:
I WATCHED IT FOR EIGHT HOURS.
Mental state: Ummmm, I was specifically told that there would be no shows about peasants digging through garbage on this upscale men's channel? Hmmm? Number of chest hairs: Oh, whatever with this stupid shit. Can we talk about how Niecy Nash is a national treasure and the world's most glamorous one-woman gif factory? EVERYTHING SHE DOES WITH HER FACE IS THE BEST.
Snack level: I ate a yogurt.
Final verdict: The Esquire Network is basically Bravo but with more Chillow commercials and no Real Housewives (double upgrade!). I give it a "yeah, sure."