Max has developed something of a niche in gastronomic entertainment. From Selena Gomez’s Selena + Chef to The Big Brunch hosted by Dan Levy, as well as Magnolia’s Joanna Gaines on Silos Baking Competition, the streaming service has left no appetite unsatisfied. What Am I Eating? With Zooey Deschanel is the latest addition to the celebrity culinary sphere.
Deschanel’s program is a departure from traditional cooking show formats, instead taking on an educational form aimed at debunking food myths and addressing the dilemmas we face when it comes to eating and grocery shopping. “Every time we do something on the show, we learn something,” Deschanel explained in an interview with Variety. “We don’t want to scare anybody about what they’re eating. We want to give people ideas, inspire people and do it in a fun way. This is something people can watch with their kids.”
The show originated as a digital short-form series titled Your Food’s Roots, which aired for three seasons on the now-defunct Facebook Watch. This earlier venture planted the seeds for the questions Deschanel wanted to explore on a more profound level. In What Am I Eating?, each episode centers around a specific topic, addressing subjects like fats and oils, organic produce, greens, cereal, grains, and chocolate. The series delves into various food-related arenas, extending beyond cooking to encompass health, sustainability, and food democratization. It’s exactly the kind of content that would excite Deschanel’s alter ego, Miss Jessica Day.
What Am I Eating?’s premise aligns well with Jess’ goals as an educator. New Girl’s Season 3 episode “Menus” tackles environmentalism as Jess attempts to organize an Ocean Conservation Day field trip for her students — a hands-on experience to help foster their understanding of the ecosystem. In keeping with the theme of waste conservation, Episode 2 of What Am I Eating? explores options for preventing produce from going bad, whether it’s through rescuing overlooked fruit on public land or extending its shelf life in the form of homemade jams and dehydrated products. This line of thinking is very similar to how Jess approaches the world, so it’s not far-fetched to think that she would implement these preservation methods into her own life.
Deschanel’s series also adopts a bright and educational format reminiscent of popular PBS programming like Bill Nye’s, which utilizes colorful graphics and easily digestible language to resonate with viewers. Each episode is brimming with a sense of child-like wonder that is punctuated by a variety of goofy puns and jokes. The first episode, “Big, Fat Lies” includes an animated sequence of butter and margarine boxing against each other in a “fat vs. fat smackdown.” It’s exactly the kind of humor that would resonate with Jess, as seen in Season 3’s episode “Thanksgiving III,” when she and Nick (Jake Johnson) laughed at an animated evite of a turkey and pilgrim.
Jess would wholeheartedly embrace What Am I Eating? in all its whimsical glory, finding it an ideal avenue for inspiring and educating students about healthy eating, sustainability, and making thoughtful food choices. And there’s no doubt that her unwavering passion would naturally spill over into Apartment 4D — even if her roommates might not share that same level of enthusiasm.
What Am I Eating? With Zooey Deschanel is currently streaming on Max.
Dianna Shen is a TV Writer at Primetimer based in New York. Her work has been featured in Paste Magazine and Decider, among other outlets.