SHello, My name is Joshua David Stein. The subject of this morning's discussion is Bravo's television show Top Chef, specifically the events of the third episode of the Fifth Season. I'm in Albuquerque, NM right now, where my Mom lives and where, due to the large Native American population (mostly Navajo and Pueblo), the very premise of Thanksgiving is deeply offensive. (I always hated the holiday because I had to see my family but they hate it for much better reasons.) Anyway, all this means is I watched this episode of Top Chef with my mom who has never seen it before against a backdrop of anti-Thanksgivingism. Many questions were raised including: Who the fuck is Dave Grohl? Who cares? Wait, is this a commercial? These questions were annoying but, upon reflection, valid. Last night's episode was all about Thanksgiving®. Contestants had to make a Thanksgiving Dinner for the Foo Fighters, a mediocre pop band headed by ex-Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl. "We rarely get to have Thanksgiving with our families," Grohl says (I"m paraphrasing/making this up), "so it's really important to have a good dinner." Great, except this was in fucking late July that they filmed the episode! There were teams. There was failure. There was success. Cougar/Jackie O/inept Jersey housewife Aryan succeeded in making a passable turkey breast which, due to the wildly low Palinesque expectations for her, was recorded as a success. Eugene, the tattooed scrappy guy from Hawaii, jerry-rigged a Hibachi grill out of coal and tinfoil and made a great pork loin. Dave Grohl was torn between ruining his credibility as a rock star with cogent commentary and ruining his credibility as a epicure with numskull nonsense. Hechose the latter. The creepy gay teddy bear/idiot Richard was sent home. Thankfully, we'll no longer be forced to witness his weird vulgar fetishization of Tom Colicchio. He can now do that from home. My mother who I love, somewhat annoyingly kept on screaming "Ai! Ai! Ai! Who cares about this?" Well, it's a fair question. I do. I love Top Chef. And here's why: Beneath all the cynical product placement (SWANSON!!!! BUTTERBALL!!! GLAD!! SAD!!! TITS!!! SPLENDOR!!!) and narrative manipulation, an American tale is told, American values are reaffirmed and the dramas we all face—saddled with different names and different faces—are played out. Is it more noble to strive and fail (like Ken-doll Jeff or bygone Marcel) or to contain your ambition and execute a modest idea well (Hosea's fruit thing)? Do effort, personality and ethnicity have any place in the judicial decisions to stay or to go or should these decisions be based solely on the matter and material on the plate? Do those factors deserve consideration in the court of public opinion? Does Padma Lakshmi have a thing for Fabio, and if so, how do they make love? Slowly? Frantically? Desperately? Clandestinely? What might she exclaim? How about he? But more importantly, in watching Top Chef, in empathizing and despising the sad-faced bat people who compete on the show, we discover ourselves. Am I the mean talented lesbian who makes fun of the fat ridiculous guy with a bad beard or am I the fat man? Does mean lesbian's insecurity excuse her cruelty? Do my insecurities excuse mine? Am I clingy like Leah, pompous like Stefan, hardscrabble like Eugene? Is it better to be loved or feared? What is Padma doing for Thanksgiving? What are you doing reading this? What am I doing writing this? It's Thanksgiving and my mother is waiting. Goodbye.