“Oh Lord, we thank thee most high, so please do listen. We’re about to eat fried chicken that will make our fingers glisten. But watch out for Martha, because she’s about to lose … because Snoop’s chicken is soaked in chronic and booze.” — A blessing from the archbishop of VH1, Snoop Dogg
In the trailer leading up to Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party, Snoop and Martha wake up in a bed together in full jim-jams, and Snoop declares, “I’m not high, but whoever gave us this show must have been.” Martha simply adds, “America has spoken.” Both things are true: This premiere episode exists in a fever dream where Snoop Dogg hosts a party for his pothead friends, then an older white woman accidentally wanders in and decides, What the hell, these guys are fun, let’s cook some food, play some games, and I’ll tell these young bucks how to brine a chicken … wait, is that Seth Rogen?
Indeed, Martha, America has spoken. In this time of great strife, we demand that two of our most famous celebrities gather ‘round a TV stage kitchen separated by their two opposing styles — Joanna Gaines shiplap and copper for her, pimp purple and a rapping fridge for him — and sorta teach us how to fry chicken in barbecue potato chips. Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party may not be the show we need right now, but an hour that starts with a Tanqueray-and-Ciroc cocktail, comes back from commercial break with Ice Cube strolling onstage, and ends with three rappers, a comedian, and a 75-year-old lifestyle icon gathered around a cluttered dinner table like the kids from That ‘70s Show … well, that is absolutely the show we deserve.
The premise: Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg are an unlikely pair of biffles (no really, they are), not because they have a surprising amount in common, but seemingly because they have nothing in common. One is a husky-toned ice queen, while the other is a lovable rapper who speaks in verse! One loves a nautical stripe, while the other carries a personalized bedazzled pimp cup! One smokes a lot of green, the other buys her greens for $30 at the farmers’ market! However, they share a love of food and good company, so why not have a cooking show?
But don’t call this a cooking show: The very best thing about Martha and Snoop’s new show is that it’s really just a dinner party for a weird and rotating group of friends. Think of it as one part educational, one part reality TV, and one part late-night talk show, scattered with weed and rolled up with giggling guests.
As for those guests: The premiere episode welcomes Seth Rogen as Snoop’s sous-chef and Wiz Khalifa on Martha’s side as our wacky hosts battle it out to claim the Chicken Frying Championship Belt. Does said belt look like I made it for a freshman-year Spanish-class video project? Yes. Does it matter? No, because this is a show that prefaces its chicken-frying competition with a liquor drink of the night, Kathie Lee and Hoda style. Snoop says he’ll be making “The Laid Back,” to which the live studio audience — oh, did I mention there’s a live studio audience that appears to be filled solely with young professional women? — calls back, “With my mind on my money, and my money on my mind!”
The recipes: The Laid Back consists of Tanqueray No. 10, apple-flavored Ciroc, pineapple juice, and a splash of club soda. That’s the clearest recipe we get all night. From there, the guests arrive with gifts — a fire extinguisher from Seth, a big ol’ bag of Khalifa Kush from the namesake himself — and everybody gets down to frying some damn chicken competitively.
Let me tell you about Martha Stewart’s smack talk. Sometimes she says things that make me incredibly nervous like, “I can’t lose to the hood.” But more frequently she says things like, “The competition will be as hot as the oil in which we are going to fry.” Snoop doesn’t seem to need smack talk — at this point in his life, he is a sweet meme of a dad who acts as the straight man, while his zany friend Martha asks about sausage parties. Subverting expectations: Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party is here for it!
Martha & Snoop is also here for actual cooking, and though it’s not really about that recipe life, it’s surprisingly educational if you’re used to the MasterChef variety of cooking shows. Brining a chicken? Martha taught me that means soaking it in a cold saltwater solution for two days. Seth is shocked: “You always have a bowl of chicken in ice water in your refrigerator?!” Brining the chicken removes all the impurities, Martha says, simultaneously proving that she’s one self-aware minx: “Look how beautiful and cold and white it looks.”
From Snoop, I learned that he is my culinary kindred spirit. While Martha’s chicken goes for a buttermilk bath after a two-day brining period, Snoop’s main objective is to finish his fried chicken in under 12 minutes. When he starts in on his lemon-pepper seasoning, Wiz mentions (while vigorously washing his hands, since they’re actually cooking) that it reminds him of some lemon, ginger, and cayenne concoction he and Snoop have had before, which Seth immediately identifies as a couples’ cleanse: “That’s the least gangster thing I’ve ever heard.”
Let’s be honest: Snoop is here to crumble a bunch of barbecue potato chips onto his chicken and throw it in a cast-iron skillet full of popping oil. He’s also here for the facts. One of my favorite things about this episode is the two times Snoop and Martha just turn to camera to offer up topical bits about fried chicken. Snoop shares a rousing tale (complete with onscreen graphics!) about how President Obama derailed his L.A. motorcade in 2011 to order a No. 9 at Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles. “And with those wings and waffles in his belly,” he says, “the president now had the fire to resolve to take out … Osama bin Laden.”
Martha, a woman who doesn’t mince her words, says simply that it was Scottish immigrants who brought fried chicken to America, but it was “African-Americans who improved on the recipe with novel spices and seasoning.” Or as Snoop translates, “The African-Americans took that bland-ass chicken and made that thang do what it do.” Indeed. And with Snoop and Seth’s wings fried, Martha’s chicken dunked in flour and fried with a splatter guard, and the knowledge that Martha once fed a chicken vodka and then cut its head off, it’s time for this show to do what it do.
By far the best part of the Martha & Snoop premiere is when the hosts and their guests — including Ice Cube, who stops by and genuinely surprises everyone but Snoop — sit down around a table to eat dinner and play party games. Watching celebrities actually eat food and tell little-known facts about themselves over a meal that may or may not actually be laced with weed: Entertainment is that simple, my friends. Martha and Snoop propose a game called “Two Thighs and a Truth” where everyone at the table shares two lies and one true fact about themselves.
Martha guesses that Ice Cube dropped out of college, as opposed to the true fact that he graduated from an architectural drafting school, but she mostly makes up for that old-white-lady guess by correctly asserting that Snoop’s best subject in high school was calculus — oh, and by sharing how she was struck by lightning three times as her truth. Apparently, once was through her sink, once was through her phone, and the third time we’ll hopefully get more details on in the future.
Because surely the most important thing we learn tonight, aside from lessons on friendship and open-mindedness and rappers’ juice cleanses and potato-chip brines and two-day chicken baths, is this: “Going to jail does not make you stronger. Only lightning makes you stronger.”
Up-and-comer Anderson Paak comes out to rap us out of TV’s weirdest little premiere because why wouldn’t there be a musical performance, too? Even though Ice Cube ultimately declares the Fried Chicken Championship a tie, we don’t need a winner. When it comes to the friendship of Snoop “Juice Cleanse” Dogg and Martha “Struck by Lightning” Stewart, we’re all winners here.