Trust me, this Food Network reality show over-delivers.

By Dina Gachman
Jul 03, 2020 @ 9:30 am
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Photo Illustration Kelly Chiello/InStyle.com; Photos: Food Network

Over the past few months, romantic comedies like Something’s Gotta Give or Love & Basketball have become a much needed escape, providing a few hours of levity by reminding us that, once upon a time, we weren’t all stuck at home wondering when life would return to “normal.” But watching movies like How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days for the 15th time can get old, no matter how distractingly gorgeous Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson look in every airbrushed scene. So just when I started longing for new rom coms to watch, I found just what I was looking for on, of all places, the Food Network.

When my husband and I watched the first episode of Amy Schumer Learns To Cook, it felt like someone had handed us a cocktail and told us to put up our feet and relax. The half-hour show takes place in the kitchen of a country house that the comedian and her husband (James Beard Award-winning chef Chris Fischer) are living in during the coronavirus quarantine. They filmed the first and only four episodes in early May, often while their son, Gene, napped. The result is a low-budget, on-the-fly cooking show that feels like the romantic comedy we need now.

Yes, it’s funny. Yes, they’re adorable and in love. And yes, the food and cocktails look delicious. There is no “meet cute,” though, and the show takes place long after most rom coms end — when the couple has moved past the flirtatious dating stage, and is deep into the married-with-a-baby stage. (They were married in 2018 and welcomed their son Gene in 2019.) Somehow, despite this fact and despite the occasional comments about the pandemic and quarantine and the instability of the world outside, it still feels romantic (I also quickly developed a crush on Schumer’s laid back husband, whose chilled out persona balances perfectly with Schumer’s comic energy). The kitchen they’re cooking in is no state-of-the-art Nancy Meyers kitchen, but that’s part of the show’s charm. It’s messy, which is a state of mind and decor I think most of us can relate to right now.

Unlike so many celebrity moments over the last few months (Ellen DeGeneres Instagramming that she’s bored in her gorgeous home, Kim Kardashian sharing a photo of one of her "14 gorgeous freesians [sic] on the ranch," or Madonna waxing poetic in a bathtub filled with flowers), Amy Schumer Learns To Cook feels at least semi-relatable. 

The show also “stars” their nanny, who helps film the episodes with a handheld camera and occasionally giggles at Schumer’s jokes. The rest of the footage is captured by cameras attached to the ceiling or mounted on walls, and Schumer and Fischer hold up pieces of cardboard with handwritten cues like “Brunch” or “Peach Bellini” to let us know what they’re cooking up next. Like most rom coms, there’s a formula that makes it easy to watch. In this case: They make a cocktail, then they cook and flirt, and then they eat and flirt. The End. In between, their son might make a cameo wearing a chef’s outfit, their dog Tatiana might eat some peas off the floor, Schumer might joke about her cellulite or tease her husband about his fennel fixation (his love of fennel is a running joke throughout the series). Schumer also occasionally calls a famous friend like Danny DeVito or Jennifer Lawrence, adding an element of surprise before they go back to chopping onions.

Given the protests against police brutality and systemic racism that are taking place across the country, watching a white comedian learn to cook in a country home may not be your first choice for escapist entertainment — and that's fair. But you can rest assured that despite her murky past, Amy's recently been using her platform to raise awareness and take action against racism, and she's doing it in ways that feel authentic, like urging Instagram followers to donate to anti-racism causes, or donating $100K of her own money to Colin Kaepernick’s Know Your Rights Camp. Her actions don’t feel forced, which is also one of the reasons the show feels so relatable. There’s no pretense. It’s just Amy Schumer, wearing three-day-old sweatpants, quarantined and cooking blueberry pancakes with her husband while trying to entertain us.

With Amy Schumer Learns To Cook we get the escapism of peeking in on a celebrity's actual personal life, while also getting the reassurance that, just like us, they’re at home, stuck in the kitchen, waiting for normalcy, whatever that means now, to return. The show might not be a traditional romantic comedy, but it gives us what rom coms, at their best, can provide: a little levity, a few laughs, and the sense that as long as the characters are in love at the end, everything might just turn out OK.

Amy Schumer Learns to Cook is available to stream on Food Network.