Douchebag Decree: Mike Isabella

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Fans of Bravo's Top Chef this season know there's been one "cheftestant" that everyone with a remote control and an appetite for snarkiness loooves to hate: Douche de la Semaine Mike Isabella. And what's not to hate? Mike I. (not to be confused with Mike V., who is slightly less hate-able) is arrogant, sexist, annoying, loud-mouthed, and just not that funny. So, not to be left off of the "Mike Isabella is a Giant Ass" train, I am awarding him this week's Douchebag Decree.

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Congratulations! You're a winner!

Read on for more, but beware: Spoiler (and Douche) Alert!

You saw that spoiler alert, right? Then it's okay for me to make joke about how Mike Isabella had better enjoy this Douchebag Decree, because it's the last award he's going to win for a while! Zing! That's right; Isabella was eliminated after last night's vegetarian showdown. Now, I did have second thoughts about kicking this guy when he's down, but then I remembered that, given his track record (remember when he made fun of Eli for having been a dishwasher?) he'd expect no less. So let's begin at the beginning, when Isabella revealed his douche-y tendencies in a flaming ball of sexism:

Whoa! No girl should ever cook better than him! Ever! Because he's the best and besides, boys are better at cooking than girls. Obviously clam-shucking talent is biologically determined. It's science. Mike's resentment of Jennifer C. continued to serve as a thread of douche throughout several episodes (he thought she was a pastry chef, he didn't respect her in the kitchen, etc.) including the hidden insult he hurled her way when he suggested she serve as the "tournant" of the military challenge. I had no idea that was a burn, but according to former cheftestant and current Bravo blogger Richard Blais it was a major dis. Said Blais:

I found it strange, that in tonight's episode, Mike Isabella suggests that Jennifer Carroll take on the role of "tournant."

It's an interesting approach and reveals a lot about Mike's character. We now are getting to know the cast a little better, and this play is vintage Isabella. Let's ask the "girl cook" to take on an archaic title that can best be described as a substitute teacher. Classically, it refers to a cook who works all the stations in other cooks' absence. A position of skill, sure, but not really of certified rank. A position that may be the proverbial glass ceiling for a woman in Mr. Isabella's mind.

That quote gets at the heart of what is so irritating about our award winner. Mike I. suffers from an almost complete lack of awareness when it comes to his own arrogance. It's one thing to be confident, cocky even (a' la the Voltaggio bros) but it's quite another to be shocked when someone else does well because you honestly believe you are better than everyone else. Oh, and then there is that faux hawk and that smarmy grin. No thanks.

Of course, in later episodes this season, Isabella's (and pretty much everyone else's) vitriol has turned toward the optimistic, cancer-surviving, older-than-everyone-else-so-obviously-terrible Robin. Sure, Mike boasted and bragged through just about every challenge, but he whined like a baby when he had to partner up with Robin a few weeks back:

So hats off to you, Isabella. You were a cheftestant (hey, it's Bravo's term, not mine) that we loved to loathe this season. You didn't win the title of Top Chef, but you'll always have this week's Douchebag Decree.

On a related note, there are lots of blog posts that detail even more of Isabella's douchetastic behavior. I couldn't resist including this photoshopped image via Karmic Kitchen:

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Some Pig.

Comments

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SO RICHLY DESERVING!

When he said that about Jen, my jaw dropped. Later in the same episode he said something about Robin being an "old lady" (granted, she's irritating as hell, but in a completely gender-neutral kind of way). TOTAL ROBODOUCHE.

The Washington Post ran a piece about Mike's recent wedding. Here's the lede:

In the current season of the reality show "Top Chef," Michael Isabella comes off as brash, cocky and a bit of a misogynist.

But it takes a while to learn to love the head chef at Zaytinya -- and no one knows that better than [his bride].

Talk about damning with faint praise!

(here's the link to the whole article):

 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/story/2009/09/18/ST2009091802431.html?sid=ST2009091802431

 Becky Sharper www.harpyness.com

Becky Sharper www.harpyness.com

His wife also said in this article...

"Obviously they've taken some bad parts and are focusing on his loud and crazy intenseness," Nemeth says. "But if you know Mike, know how he is, you know he's just joking around."

I talked briefly to him last night at Zaytinya and he was extremely nice to my companions and me. It's a bit harsh to say that he has a "swarmy" grin. I can only imagine if people said that about me and quite frankly, my feelings would be hurt. That's pretty personal. Just remember, when it comes to television...it's all about the editing. Before you decide to call someone a douche, meet them. Watching people on television is like first impressions, like judging a book by its cover, like like, oh you get my point. Be nice. Life is too fucking short.

Pig Picture

As someone who deals with both pigs (volunteering here: http://fortheanimalssanctuary.org/) and misogynists (wall street white dude privilege every working day) I have to say, pigs would be offended at the comparison.

They are cute, funny, smart, and playful. Douchebags assume they are all of these things, and therefore achieve none of them. For similar reasons I don't call jerky men "dogs" or women "catty"...I mean, we put all our crazypants-ness on other critters but really, humans are the craziest and douchiest of them all. And they don't look nearly as cute as these darlings:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/43452239@N03/sets/72157622570830364/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/43452239@N03/sets/72157622446042781/

You are right! Pigs rule!

Marcy,

I agree with you that pigs are waaay cuter and nicer than douchebags. I just thought the photo was so funny I couldn't resist! You are totally right about the awesomeness of pigs though. We spent quite a bit of time googling "teacup pigs" yesterday in the office, in fact!

Thanks for the cute links!

~Kelsey

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Kelsey Wallace, contributor

Ask me about our Comments Policy!

Piggies

And don't forget smarter...much much smarter ;)

Teacup Pigs = Fake

BTW to anyone out there let alone who might consider buying one of these 'fad' teacup pig pets, that's all fake. Breeders lie about how small they're going to stay. It's been known for years, and yet journalists still don't fact-check because they want a cutesy segment and don't care about the animals involved. Who end up dumped when they're full-grown pigs.

Here's the Best Friends article on it:
http://network.bestfriends.org/campaigns/foreverhome/13370/news.aspx

Just more greedy breeders.

Douchebag on deck

I am torn about Mike I. being gone, only because Eli is fixing to step into the recently-vacated Top D-bag position, and I can't listen to one more second of his whining. Isabella was an unrepentent jerk and way too impressed with his kitchen skills (really, leeks as a main course?), but Eli is both far more entitled-seeming and far less entertaining. It was definitely a race to the bottom with those two, but I almost wish Eli had gone first.

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Andi Zeisler, cofounder and editorial/creative director

Comments Policy: Like to hear it? Here it go!

I am afraid you are right.

After watching (belatedly) all of last night's episode, I too was wishing Eli would get sent home. And you are right that he is way less entertaining than the douche-yet-kind-of-funny Mike Isabella. Why does it seem like all of the contestants love Eli so much? He is a major whiner. Fingers crossed he goes home next week, or at least cuts down on the complaining. Why can't they all take a lesson from Kevin and be super nice and adorable?

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Kelsey Wallace, contributor

Ask me about our Comments Policy!

Mike was not the one that

Mike was not the one that asked Jen if she was a pastry chef, it was Ron. Also Mike and Jen have been friends for years and knows that she is capable of great things. I think Mike was not fully aware of the meaning of tournant, he is not a cooking school chef. He did say that he thought Jen was the problem in RW so that is maybe the only true douche thing he has said about her, everything else was pretty much toungue and cheek. He's kinda stupid so give him a break.

I notice you didn't try to

I notice you didn't try to defend his line about how he couldn't get beaten by a girl.

"He's kinda stupid, so give him a break" could apply to most misogynists in the world. It's a "kinda stupid" response on your part, in my opinion.

Becky Sharper www.harpyness.com

Becky Sharper www.harpyness.com

Even so...

I might be misremembering the pastry chef dig, but I think that Mike I. acted plenty misogynistic enough throughout the rest of the season to justify this Douchebag Decree. Tongue in cheek or not, he was disrespectful to the women (and some of the men) on the show and his being "kinda stupid" doesn't justify that behavior.

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Kelsey Wallace, contributor

Ask me about our Comments Policy!

I might be the only man on this site.

BUT SERIOUSLY THIS ENTIRE "MOVEMENT" FEMINISM COMPLAINS ABOUT THE MEDIA'S PORTRAYAL OF WOMEN. BUT IF YOU LOOK AT MOST TV SITCOMS THE GUY IS ALWAYS A DUMBASS, FUMBLING, IDIOT. (FAMILY GUY, SIMPSONS, KING OF QUEENS.,.,..,.). ARE ALL MEN LIKE THAT IN REAL LIFE? OR IS IT A MEDIA DERIVED IMAGE? THIS WHOLE SITE OR MAGAZINE OR WHATEVER SAYS POOR ME THE BIG MEDIA GIANTS ARE RUNNING US OUT OF BUSINESS. HAVE YOU EVER CONSIDERED THAT YOUR MESSAGE IS TOTALLY OUT OF DATE? NO ONE STILL THINKS WOMEN HAVE IT WORSE OFF THAN MEN? EXCEPT THE FEMINIST RUN MEDIA WHICH YOU ARE AGAINST?????????? THIS KIND OF HYPOCRISY IS EASILY SEEN BY YOUNG PEOPLE. FEMINISM IS SO BAD, SO ROTTED OUR EDUCATION SYSTEM. THAT WE CAN'T EVEN TALK ABOUT THESE REAL ISSUES BECAUSE THEY MAY OFFEND THE FEMALE HIERARCHY. THE NUMBER OF THINK TANKS ARE INCREASING IN ORDER TO TALK ABOUT THESE ISSUES. LIKE THE FAKE WAGE GAP.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jIo-EHQqSFo

HAVE YOU EVER THOUGHT TO YOURSELF AT THIS MAGAZINE THAT MAYBE YOU ARE HOLDING ONTO A DYING IDEOLOGY? THAT MAYBE THIS WHOLE THING WAS INVENTED BY SOMEONE IN ORDER TO SEPARATE MEN AND WOMEN IN ORDER TO DIVIDE US TO BECOME BETTER SLAVES TO WHO RUN SOCIETY?

I LOVE ANTI MEDIA SMALL PUBLICATIONS BUT NOT IF YOU'VE GOT IT ALL BACKWARDS. GET OUT OF PORTLAND!! HAVE WRITERS FROM MORE THAN ONE WALK OF LIFE. NOT JUST MIDDLE CLASS WHITE GIRLS WITH TATTOOS.

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2008/07/save_the_males.html

WAKE THE F*** UP!!!!!!!!!!

Hmm

Gotta love useless bitching in all-caps. Who doesn't love someone who yells everything they say? Whee!

This Little Piggy

Sorry I was a little late to this subject but I'm the one who chopped that hog photo. It's much easier to chop a hog than a douchebag. My apologies to pigs everywhere.
On the subject of cutting Mike a break for his comments, that he's really a nice guy blahblahblah. Mike signed up for this show. This is the sixth season and we all know how the game is played. If you want tv face time (and they all do) you have two ways of getting it, through your food or through your mouth. Mike obviously went the mouth route. Does anyone here think Mike I is as smart as Kevin? Did anyone see one of the behind the scenes videos of Mike I freaking out because the producers woke him up to berate him for his behavior early on in the show? When the producers of this show have an off camera talk to you, you know you have a problem. Even funnier? Mike freaking out that he wouldn't be one of the helper chefs (thus no final shot at face time) for the finalists. I think this Bag de Douche was well deserved for this Asshat.

I hate douchebags as much as

I hate douchebags as much as the next guy, but Mike Isabella really doesn't seem that bad to me. Is it his accent that kills you all? The V bros. seem to respect him oodles...that says something, no?
I know, I know he's stupid because he even didn't know leeks aren't proteins =)
But I agree in one point, if Mike I. expended as much effort on cooking well and not being such an ass as he does, he might be a good chef.