The madder a cable network's viewers get, the higher its ratings, so it should be no surprise that last week's battle was our most contentious and ugly one yet! Congratulations to...
Thanks to those of you commenters who offered level-headed responses to this match-up, but I'm gonna skip singling anyone out because the less time spent in that comments section the better. Moving on!
This week on America's Got Cable: Prepare a full-course gourmet meal and then throw it at the nearest hussy!
Background: Food Network was founded way back in 1993 in a partnership between Adelphia, Continental Cablevision, and multimedia corporation the Tribune Company. Interesting, right? Haha, anyway, it was originally known by the even more generic name "TV Food Network" and its purpose was simply to be a single-subject cable channel you'd find in the 400s somewhere. Since then, it's become the most prominent food-based cable channel on the air, attracting a passionate following to its double-tiered schedule—tutorials in the daytime and reality shows in primetime. Food Network's influence is pretty huge today, having launched the TV careers of Emeril Lagasse, Rachael Ray, Guy Fieri, Paula Deen, Mario Batali, Bobby Flay, and Alton Brown, among many others.
Original Programming: In addition to host-centric daytime cooking shows like Barefoot Contessa, Down Home with the Neelys, 30 Minute Meals, Paula's Home Cooking, and tons more, Food Network boasts a highly addictive primetime schedule. Current signature shows include: Chopped, Iron Chef America, Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, Food Network Challenge, The Worst Cooks in America, and Next Food Network Star.
Reruns: Because of the huge array of original programming the Food Network has produced over the past 18 years, its schedule is mostly limited to reruns from its own archives. So basically, you won't be seeing reruns of Fear Factor on here anytime soon.
Why It's The Best: Food Network figured out how to make genuinely engaging programming that's actually educational.
Why It's The Worst: It's kind of tough watching three straight hours of gourmet cooking tutorials and then remembering there's nothing in the refrigerator except dijonaise and Sunny D.
Background: The female-centric Oxygen Channel was launched in early 2000 as a joint partnership between a former Nickelodeon executive, the sitcom superproducers behind Roseanne and The Cosby Show, and, most famously, Oprah Winfrey herself. That's right, we don't hear her talking too much about Oxygen anymore, do we? That's because only a few years after launching the channel, she distanced herself from it and later divested herself entirely before it was finally sold to NBCUniversal in 2007. Since then Oxygen has become a sort of go-to for reality shows about faded stars or ill-behaved tramps.
Original Programming: No really, out of the thirteen shows currently listed on the Oxygen website, ALL THIRTEEN are reality shows. Many of them are fashion- or celebrity-oriented, like Jersey Couture, The Glee Project, Hair Battle Spectacular, and newer additions like All About Aubrey and Tori and Dean: Home Sweet Hollywood. Past shows have included the scripted (!) sitcom Campus Ladies and a personal favorite guilty pleasure, the Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency, but the crown jewel of the Oxygen lineup has always been the Bad Girls Club, better known as Why The Terrorists Hate Us.
Reruns: Oxygen's schedule is filled with reruns of things like Law & Order: Criminal Intent, America's Next Top Model, Roseanne and—bless their hearts—Living Single. Plus tons of movies (romantic comedies mostly).
Why It's the Best: Unlike main competitor Lifetime, Oxygen has a youthful, high-spirited appeal and its existence provides the perfect hormonal counterbalance to Spike.
Why It's the Worst: Reality shows aren't going anywhere, but JDMA aside, the least Oxygen could do is produce watchable ones. And do you remember when the network first started and it had that permanent advertising bar at the bottom of the screen? That was pretty ahead of its time, and not in a good way.
Official TV.com Verdict
Easiest decision yet: Food Network for sure.
But now it's your turn! COMMENT BELOW and tell us your verdict: Food Network or Oxygen? And make your case! What do you love or hate about each channel?
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Want to catch up on past battles? Head over to the America's Got Cable archives.