Paula Deen is kicking her post-scandal comeback into warp speed. Just a week ago, the prodigal Southern butter belle launched her subscriber-only, “real as it can get” site of her celebrity, and by midday today, she’ll be sitting on Steve Harvey’s couch as he announces her new role teaching culinary arts at his mentoring camp for young men.
The episode, billed as yet another “no-holds-barred sitdown,” begins with a reframing of the celebrity chef’s image after last year’s reports of alleged racism and her subsequent pleas for forgiveness. “[S]he’s saying, ‘Look, I made a wrong. This is who I really am, and this is how I want to present myself,’” says Harvey. The TV host says she’s “agreed to take as many boys as I want to fly down to Savannah, and teach them culinary skills. That, to me, is how you get something from something.”
It’s also probably how you get angry adults, who are entrusting their children to someone who planned a “Southern plantation wedding” complete with servers purposefully dressed to look like slaves from an “era where there were middle-aged black men waiting on white people.” Camp workshops also highlight “the importance of nutrition and physical fitness,” and while culinary skills are culinary skills, the Root wonders, moreover, why “the Neelys, G. Garvin, Carla Hall, and the countless other black chefs” had on their schedules that he had to go for a “so-called reformed racist.”
We’ll see how the TV appearance shakes out, but it seem as though Harvey has been primed for disaster. In a teaser for the show, he says he doesn’t care how people respond on the internet. “Now, when you blog about me, put also in the blog — can you please type, right after you get through typing, that I don’t give a damn,” he says, which really doesn’t feel like trolling at all.