This week’s episode of Top Chef takes a step away from the food to focus more fully on mega-drama and frat-house antics—and has apparently lost some viewers in the process.

In a scandal that Television Without Pity has dubbed “Clippergate,” two of the five remaining cheftestants—whiz kid Ilan and pastry queen Elia—decide one drunken night to shave their heads; then, seemingly in collusion with Ilan, the brawny Cliff awakens the reviled Marcel and holds him down for a shearing (which, let’s be honest, he could use). But when Marcel struggles violently, whoever is holding the clippers (it seems to be Elia) decides not to carry out the prank, and front-runner Sam sits laughing at the scene while refusing to take part.

The awkward, painful-looking wrestling match continues for what seems like way too long before Cliff sets Marcel free. The next day, Cliff is dismissed from the show, and the others are given a stern talking-to for their roles in the joke-turned-assault.

Ironically, the judges rave more about the cheftestants’ dishes in this episode, which are deemed good to excellent across the board, than they have in any other. But flavor, creativity, plating, and all the rest don’t ultimately count for much in this episode’s elimination—and that’s disappointing to a food-oriented fan base that normally eschews reality shows. Is it simply impossible for reality TV to transcend its drama-mongering roots? For those of you who watch the show, did this or any of the previous episodes cause you to question your loyalty?

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