How Martha & Snoop Shook Up the Dinner Party in the Best Way

Most of my life, I’ve felt like a complete enigma. I’ve always had a super eclectic group of friends that don’t seem to go together. My taste in food, music, hobbies and design is all over the board. I like it that way. But when most of us look around we like to categorize people so we understand exactly who they are. Problem is, I never felt like I fit one perfectly and have always been drawn to people and things that didn’t fit one either.

Brands, like Lucky Strike, that shake it up by fusing totally opposite things?

Ballet performed to Jamiroquai?
Can’t get enough.

Dishes with night and day ingredients that somehow just work?
Heaven in my mouth.

Dinner parties with a super random mix of people?
Sign. me. up.

So when I heard that the queen of domestication and the hip hop shizzolator had a new cooking show coming on the scene, naturally I was intrigued. After two episodes of Martha and Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party, it still remains to be seen whether I’ll be an avid watcher, but I’m definitely curious to see where this goes. For those of us that love to bond with friends over a dinner, there are a lot of things that, in my book, this unlikely duo got right…and a couple where they’ve still got a ways to go.

5 things they nailed

  • Don’t try to be something they’re not. One of the best weddings I’ve ever been to was marked by solo cups, cheap beer (that wasn’t even iced down when the reception started), and a wedding dance to a Rush song. By all accounts, this super casual, kind of disorganized affair should NOT go down in the wedding hall of fame. But it killed because it was 10,000% true to who the bride and groom are. No one stressed about putting on a show, everyone embraced the chaos and 125 people loved every freaking second of it. Too often dinners go off the rails because the host tries too hard to make it what they think it should be. But Martha and Snoop keep it pretty real right down to their cooking styles, refrigerator music, stemware, grace and glittery table decor. Even though they might not be fully in a groove…yet…they bring their distinct personalities and flavor to the kitchen every time. And the mash-up is what totally makes it.
  • Embrace an eclectic guest list: To say this is an odd mix of people is the understatement of the century. Who would ever expect to see Rick Ross, Wiz Khalifa, Seth Rogan, or Ice Cube sitting at Martha’s dinner table? But my favorite get-togethers are the ones that blend people whose paths wouldn’t otherwise cross. It’s fun to watch people you’d never expect to mesh having fun and hitting it off. Besides, seeing Martha chill out from her usual buttoned-up persona is pretty damn refreshing. People breaking out of their shell is what makes parties interesting…and DIFFERENT than the usual stuff that fills our routine lives.
  • Get guests in the kitchen: By far, the worst part of hosting dinner is all the prep-work, especially when it all falls to the host. It’s also hard to quickly shift to that easy-going attitude that makes guests comfortable when you’ve been racing around cooking like a crazy person. Now I get that this is a cooking show, but I love how Martha and Snoop have their dinner guests right alongside them helping them cook. Who decided anyway that everything had to be done and perfect BEFORE everyone arrives? Maybe if we made dinners a joint activity, rather than a chore for one, we’d get together more often.
  • Have something to spark conversation. Making small talk can be really hard, especially with a motley crew like this, so it’s great they have something planned to get things going. The first episode’s Two Thighs and a Truth” game revealed little-known tidbits about each person and was a good way to bust the predictable pre-conceived notions the group had of each other. Episode 2, everyone brought something personal (from bras to toilet paper holders) and shared the story behind it, which offered behind the scenes, personal details you’d probably never get to otherwise. Just goes to show, starting a conversation isn’t hard when you’ve got something to spark some interest.
  • Keep it casual. One of the things that frankly has turned me off over the years is the picture-perfect detail and craftiness Martha usually brings to her soirees. But THIS dinner party, which has almost a backyard picnic feel, is definitely focused on the people and the fun, not the decor and etiquette. If you want people to really engage with the each other, they’ve got to feel relaxed, and so far the show seems to be hitting all the right notes on that front.

2 ways to kick it up a notch

  • Broaden the guest list: We’re only two episodes in, but so far Martha’s still kind of feels like the odd woman out. While mixing up the guest list can be really great, these are serious extremes which, at moments, still felt a tad stilted. Part of the entertainment factor is absolutely the sheer ridiculousness of it all, but hopefully, as the season continues, the guest list starts to include a few other notes. There’s a whole range in between hip hop and domestic bliss that could add even more interest and dimension, which might do wonders to bridge the gap between the two.
  • Take the conversation further: Having something to spark conversation is awesome. But games like this usually fall short because people don’t follow-up. You learn something surprising about someone, but if you don’t dig further, it’s kind of pointless. I personally would have loved to find out how in the world Ice Cube ended up going to school for architectural drafting. How did he decide on that? Why didn’t he pursue it? How in the world did he make the leap from that to rapping and acting? I get this is a cooking show, but there’s a million and one of those out there. And I doubt this is one people are watching for the recipes anyway. The brilliance of this one is using food as a medium to bring seemingly incompatible people together. Watching them laugh, find commonality and interest in each other is the most interesting part.
Whether the show will have staying power, who knows. But if these two can settle into a groove and build on what’s working, this could become another great example of the refreshing change rocking the overly engineered, intimating dinner party scene.

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