Last night, as millions of Americans tucked their children into bed and prayed for the swift arrival of Wednesday, November 9, a small miracle occurred on VH1. Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg came together to make fried chicken. For America.
Martha and Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party premiered on Monday with a special hour-long episode in which the title pair engage in a friendly competition to see who makes the best fried chicken. Yes, this new weekly series is basically one long gimmick in which yin-and-yang duo Martha and Snoop (a.k.a. “The King of Kush” and “The Queen of Cuisine”) cook in front of a studio audience and then eat with guests apparently culled entirely from Snoop’s Rolodex: Seth Rogen, Wiz Khalifa, Ice Cube, and a brief performance by Anderson Paak feature in the premiere episode.
Is Martha and Snoop great television? Eh, not exactly. The live audience is an awkward element, particularly when everyone sits down to eat, and the banter between the hosts comes off a little canned at first. But once everyone loosens up, the show is irresistible, and a reminder that for all the “2016-is-a-garbage-fire” talk, it’s also a time in which a rap mogul and a disgraced lifestyle empress can come together to polish their personal brands via an inoffensive and sweetly entertaining cooking show on cable television. If Martha and Snoop can come together, so can America. Right?
Here are some highlights (get it? Get it?! DO YOU GET IT?!!) from last night’s premiere.
The inevitable (yet still pretty funny) weed references.
They start right from the intro, which has Martha and Snoop lying “in bed” together (you can tell from Snoop’s pillow that they’re actually standing against a bed-like backdrop): “I’m not high right now,” Snoop declares, “but whoever gave us this show — they must have been.” Later, Snoop introduces Seth Rogen as “definitely the type of neighbor that you want to have around when you’re looking for that sticky icky icky.” “I don’t know who’s gonna be more fried by the end of this show,” Martha kids. Oh, Martha, you sly devil.
The budding friendship between Martha and Wiz Khalifa.
After witnessing what is surely the beginning of a beautiful friendship, I would fully throw myself into a spinoff featuring Martha Stewart and Wiz Khalifa, who teams up with the domestic goddess while Rogen assists Snoop. Their connection is there from the start, when Wiz brings Martha a gift bag full of “Khalifa Kush”; it’s there when they dance side by side as the music takes us to commercial; it’s there when Wiz expertly whisks Martha’s buttermilk bath (“You got your whip game together!” Snoop cries). It’s there any time Wiz laughs his honking, duck-with-a-foghorn laugh.
Seth Rogen’s Greek chorus.
Leave it to the lone comedian to constantly point out the balls-deep weirdness of this whole spectacle. Rogen’s running commentary adds some welcome spontaneity to the show, and functions as a sort of Greek chorus. He stands in for the undoubtedly befuddled audience when he points out, “This is the weirdest group of people ever on a stage together.” When Martha insists her chicken will win the competition, and that she “can’t lose to the hood,” Rogen retorts, “Give the hood a break, Martha.” When she asks if this would be a “sausage party” if she weren’t there, he marvels, “Hearing you say those words is one of the better things that’s happened to me.” He adds, “Because you’re here, it makes it a sausage party slash taco fiesta,” and then looks absolutely mortified as he realizes he just made a reference to Martha Stewart’s vagina right to her face.
Snoop Dogg being Snoop Dogg.
Early in the episode, Martha asks Rogen if he was “disillusioned” when he first met Snoop Dogg. “Not at all, are you kidding me?” he replies. “Who lives up to what you hope them to be more than Snoop?” Rogen’s getting at the very reason for this show’s existence, which is to watch Snoop Dogg be Snoop Dogg; the contrast to the professionally prim Martha Stewart is just icing. At one point, Snoop breaks away from the banter to deliver a side note on the time Barack Obama visited Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles in L.A. in 2011, consuming a meal that left him with “the fire and resolve to take out Osama Bin Laden.” When Martha, Snoop, Wiz, and Ice Cube sit down to eat, Snoop says grace as only Snoop can: “We’re about to eat fried chicken that’ll make your fingers glisten. But watch out for Martha, she’s about to lose, ’cause Snoop’s chicken is soaked in chronic and booze.”
The food bringing us all together.
There’s a long-running joke that if anything can bring peace to the Middle East, it’s hummus, that rare common ground between Israelis and Palestinians. Maybe fried chicken is America’s hummus: As Martha points out, “Scottish immigrants brought fried chicken to America. And then it was African-Americans who improved on the recipe with novel spices and seasonings.” “Can you say that again,” Snoop says, “that it was African-Americans who took that bland-ass chicken and made it do what it do?” In the end, the contest comes down to a tie. All chicken remains equal.
Martha and Snoop’s Potluck Dinner airs Mondays at 10 p.m. on VH1.