Entertainment » Television

'At Home with Amy Sedaris' Hilariously Skewers Cooking & Crafting TV

by Jason St. Amand
National News Editor
Sunday Oct 22, 2017

The popularity of HGTV and Food Network shows, especially among gay men, has been on the rise for years now, with hosts becoming a celebrity in own right. It's a surprise it took so long for a parody of those super saccharine and cheery do-it-at-home programs. But Amy Sedaris proves to be the perfect person to pick apart these addictive shows, hilariously skewering them with her brand of demented comedy. (Fans of "Strangers with Candy" will be pleased.)

From the jump, it's clear that "At Home with Amy Sedaris," which premieres Oct. 24 on truTV, is ball of energy; the kind of humor only Sedaris can bring. It's a breath of fresh air in a TV landscape that is otherwise populated with dark prestige shows and "comedies" that play out like mini-dramas.

"Fish: Wondrous creatures of the sea. Exciting to catch, delicious to eat," she says in the first episode "TGIF," later adding, "Fish: A strange, cold-blooded, and limbless creature that thrives in the stuff we drown in. A thing of nightmares. But when battered and panfryed, scrumptious!"

Decked out in a nautical themed apron, Sedaris explains various types of fish, including red snapper.

"[It's] known for its abundance of mercury - perfect if slowly poisoning a loved one is on the menu," she earnestly says. She finally settles on serving river fish.

"Always a crowd pleaser, assuming the crowd loves river fish," Sedaris says.

A scene from "At Home with Amy Sedaris." Photo credit: truTV

"At Home," co-created by Sedaris and Paul Dinello (he also starred in and co-created "Strangers"), is the perfect platform for Sedaris to share her off-brand twisted comedy. Here, she's in full control, spoofing everyone from Martha Stewart to the legendary calming PBS painter from the 70s, Bob Ross. More than the glossy and high production value of today's crafting and cooking shows, Sedaris pays a clear homage to the talents of yesterday - artists who hosted their own homemaking shows on local TV around the country.

In several interviews, Sedaris said she's wanted to make "At Home" since she was a little girl and that local entertainer, Peggy Mann, helped inspire the show.

"I always thought it was going to be more of a PBS show with interesting people in front of a live audience," she told The New York Times. "But it was hard to fill 24 and a half minutes and not go in for laughs, and we were boring ourselves. So now I'm a bored housewife on a funny show."

Indeed, "At Home" is relentless with providing laughs. The show features a number of guests, sharing their own crafting and cooking tips. One recurring segment is "The Lady Who Lives in the Woods," which has its own theme song containing the lyrics: "Her bathroom is a hole in the dirt that she dug, and her friends are a raccoon and a slimy spring slug."

In "TGIF" she shows us how to gut a fish. In "Gift Giving" she teaches the audience how to make jewelry out of rocks, or as she calls them "nature's diamonds." While these segments are funny in their own right, The Lady Who Lives in the Woods gets an extra dose of weird as she passive-aggressively talks about her silent partner, Esther. In the "Gift Giving" episode, Esther has her friend Ariel over and The Lady Who Lives in the Woods is none too pleased.

"Esther has a new friend over today, Ariel, who tells me her area of study is moss and lichen," she says as the women giggle. "I would assume, given Ariel's expertise, she would know that although lichen is often confused for moss they are not in the same genus.

A scene from "At Home with Amy Sedaris" Photo credit: truTV

"Of course moss, although often overlooked, is a hardy and stable plant, rich in character. And lichen is a Johnny-come-lately fungus, who like most fungi, can not be deepened upon," she angrily adds, turning herself towards Ariel. "Isn't that right Ariel?"

Sedaris pulls double (triple!) duty on "At Home," playing multiple characters, including neighbor and friend, Patty Hog - a feisty Southern woman - who shows us how to cook lamb chops (or, as she calls them "little baby feet") from her country club. On top of Sedaris' multiple performances, "At Home" also boasts a stellar lineup of special guests, including "Strangers" costar Stephen Colbert, Rachel Dratch ("SNL"), Cole Escola ("Difficult People"), Jane Krakowski ("30 Rock"), "The Leftovers" star Justin Theroux and many more.

If "Strangers" was winking at 70s and 80s afterschool specials, "At Home" takes things further back and riffs on the notorious public service announcements of the 50s. In one scene, Sedaris shows two young children a video on the dangers of crafting, which includes scissors to the head, vaginal bleeding and snakebites. After the violent clip ends, the kids are mortified but Sedaris is chomping on popcorn, proclaiming, "I never get tired of watching this film!"

With its bright set, resembling a cozy home full of adorable crafts, "At Home" is the comedy we all need in this dark time. Sedaris is a master at toeing between spoofing crafting shows and honoring them. Her signature brand of holding a funhouse mirror up to America's ideas of normalcy plays brilliantly here, resulting in a half-hour show that is the perfect vehicle to escape the troubles of today. So pull up a chair and let Sedaris teach you how to make a cake for a birthday party.

"Sure, they might already have a cake but if they forgot, then you're the hero. And if they didn't forget then pretend you're having a seizure and fall into their cake," she says. "Now when you arise from the floor covered in buttercream, not only are you the person who quickly rebounded from a seizure, but you're also the one who saved the day with a backup cake. This also works for meatloaf!"


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