Joshua David Stein is back briefly to talk about Bravo's Top Chef whose third episode aired last night. Thrash metal chef Erik was unceremoniously kicked to the curb at the end of Top Chef last night and, for many of us watching at home, it was like watching an old dog with cancer and a gas problem put to sleep. It was sad. We saw it coming. We wondered what took so long. We were relieved that he no longer would have the opportunity to embarrass himself publicly. We cycled through shame and mourning and finally we switched channels and watched Rock of Love 2, a VH1 program in which blond fake-titted ex-Poison frontman Bret Michaels looks for love from a cesspool of blonde fake-titted women. And yeah, maybe this is a spoiler (sorry it's not after the jump) but no one can be surprised. Remember his nachos? He did however go out cursing wildly respected chef Rick Bayless which is awesome.

If I sound down on the show well, it's because I am. Both this week and last week and, come to think of it, the quickfire challenge in the first episode, stink of a gimmick built around a sponsor thought up by a team of suits (or probably no, they probably all wear American Apparel now) in marketing who have no idea what being a chef is like. The balance between testing the skills of the cheftestants and pleasing the advertisers has been upset. It makes for unenjoyable television. I mean whatever that dude's name was Erik, he deserved to go no doubt. But this isn't Top Caterer, it's Top Chef. Both Valerie (played in real life by Rachel Dratch) and Eric (played by David Brockie) were kicked off for errors that resulted from transport issues unique to caterers. His corn dogs were soggy. Her blinis were too. As Ted Allen noted, they steamed en route. But neither one of these situations would ever arise in actual kitchens with a restaurant in front which is, presumably, what the contestants are vying for. Erik should have been kicked off for being essentially TGIF line-cook way in over his head. And he was but it's condescending and infuriating to gussy up the reason for his dismissal as a transport issue.

The other thing I feel compelled to note is the idiocy of the audience poll which looked like one thing but was actually another. The poll question was, if I remember correctly, "What will America have first? A female Top Chef or a female President." The winning answer, according to the poll and my Mucinex-and-Theraflu soaked memory, was Female Top Chef. This prima facie seems like an endorsement for Obama. "We'll have a Female Top Chef before we have a Female President." However, since the next President won't be decided at any rate until way after the next Top Chef winner is, whether Hillary wins or not, the answer is really just a vote that a woman will win this season. Statistically, this seems like it should be true since you can bet Bravo is getting pressure to hand the victory (deserved, of course) to a femilady and because of this season's chefs, the women, especially the shorter lesbian lady and Stephanie who won the first challenge, are particularly strong candidates.

Hopefully next week we can actually see the chefs cook, that is prepare a meal that really does showcase their talents and not whatever brand payed a premium for integrated content that week. In the meantime, since the whole kit is just depressing, I really need a pick up. Something that will change by existential angst into exhilarating grinning. Maybe I'll just help myself to a handful of Paxil*, a serotonin-specific reuptake inhibitors and this post's proud sponsor.

*Do not use Paxil if you are using pimozide (Orap), thioridazine (Mellaril), or an MAO inhibitor such as isocarboxazid (Marplan), tranylcypromine (Parnate), phenelzine (Nardil), rasagiline (Azilect), or selegiline (Eldepryl, Emsam). Serious and sometimes fatal reactions can occur when these medicines are taken with Paxil. You must wait at least 14 days after stopping an MAO inhibitor before you can take Paxil. After you stop taking Paxil, you must wait at least 14 days before you start taking an MAOI.

Before taking Paxil, tell your doctor if you are allergic to any drugs, or if you have:

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seizures or epilepsy;

bipolar disorder (manic depression), or a history of drug abuse or suicidal thoughts.