Amanda Fortini Strips Away The Pioneer Woman’s Veneer

It only took nine months, but it appears Amanda Fortini, author of The New Yorker’s  ambiguous Pioneer Woman exposé*, has belatedly acknowledged what Drummond’s critics have known for years…Ree’s wily. Why the Harvard-educated writer was last to the “little ol’ ranch wife” party is fodder for a future post. Arguably it’s more about the narcissistic faux Pioneer Woman taking advantage of Fortini’s naiveté, playing off her youth and inexperience ostensibly to garner a favorable story.

Last week, Fortini returned to The New Yorker, this time its blog, and revealed after viewing Food Network’s Pioneer Woman show, that her light bulb had finally been switched to the on position. In stark contrast to her admittedly misguided first impression, Fortini who has the undeniable advantage of knowing both Pioneer Woman personas, the one Ree wants people to see and Rachel Purnell’s Food Network vision, summed it all up very nicely… as fake. Yes it seems, Amanda got the memo this time around.

In her post, Fortini reasons that Pioneer Woman’s uneasiness within the medium of television stems from Ree Drummond’s underlying deceit about her less than pastoral lifestyle. With the pressure of lights, camera and profits, the real Pioneer Woman is unveiled and as it turns out, she’s not a particularly compelling woman. In fact, the real little ol’ ranch wife of Pawhuska is quite ordinary, if not boring. Her on-camera personality is non-existent and her cooking skills are dubious at best. Sadly, she’s set back this country’s women’s movement at least a hundred years with her cloying adulation for her husband and the resident “men folk.”

Fortini notes too viewers’ incredulity. From the comfort of their living rooms, Food Network’s fans are allowed a peak into the Pioneer Woman’s less-than pioneering lifestyle, one replete with commercial grade kitchen appliances housed in a multi-million dollar custom-built television studio. Armed with not one, but two professional cameras, Ree lollygags about the prairie in a $50K Ford Expedition snapping photos of staged ranch scenes. According to Fortini, many are starting to question Ree’s schtick, but some stalwarts remain. Whoever believes Drummond’s an actual pioneer woman keepin’ it real needs a serious reality check.

Fortini’s analysis states a litany of reasons why the show has fallen on its face notably Pioneer Woman’s palpable discomfort in her own skin when she’s “recites” the very script she, as a consulting producer, authored. Yet for all the headway she makes, at one point Fortini falls back with a polite slap on Ree’s plagiarizing wrist, referring to the Pioneer Woman’s recipes as “derivative.”  Uh, no, they’re lifted and sources are not credited.

Perhaps the real lesson in all this is for Amanda herself. Remaining objective and fact-checking both sides of a story instead of discounting critics as “poisonous and obsessive”  should be her mantra moving forward. The Pie Near Woman, Pioneer Woman Sux and this blog have been exposing Ree’s internet hoax for years. Fair warning Amanda, press releases are paid advertisements designed to showcase clients in the best possible light, hardly lone sources for articles destined for publication. Bartlesville, Oklahoma isn’t affluent any more than Ree Drummond is a Pioneer Woman.

* O Pioneer Woman, The New Yorker


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42 Responses to Amanda Fortini Strips Away The Pioneer Woman’s Veneer

  1. J-anonymous says:

    Thanks for linking to this or I would have missed it. What Ms. Fortini doesn’t seem to get – or her thoughts haven’t evolved that far yet – is not that tv isn’t her medium while the page is… it is that a blog is controlled. Anyone can (and is) taking the photos, writing the blog posts, cooking the food and pasting it all together into a fairytale on the blog. How easy it is to have a team of how many all pretending to be Ree when no one can see inside their computer screen. But on tv, poor Ree is front and center, up there all on her lonesome, having to find and recite the words and create a lifestyle that she obviously doesn’t live. Ms. Fortini still doesn’t seem to have gone that one step further and realized that the lifestyle and the blog are all fake and a team effort to create a fiction.

  2. Lily says:

    Thank you so much for this. Not that i needed to be vindicated, because i know the truth, but still nice to see. Now i need to go read her original. It sounds like Fortini went soft on PW, but it is still a start.

  3. Lily says:

    Omg, finally!! I didn’t know about this. I hope the light continues to spread and people wake up. I have to say, i am disappointed and disgusted with The Food Network. Thank you so amuch for this.Not that i needed to feel vindicated, because i/we know the truth. But it is still nice to see.

  4. Concerned Citizen says:

    Thanks, just want to say how fantastic this site is — a public service! — help protect us from this Ree Drummond juggernaut!

    I’ve been trying to call this faker out on various review sites since I accidentally picked up her cookbook a while back — spotted immediately this gal is a total fraud. A few moments of googling showed me just how MUCH of a fraud she is!

  5. Cath says:

    I just posted on Fortini’s followup and they have kept it there (Sorry, it was long and the format did not allow for paragraphs).

  6. ameliaJake says:

    I am very glad you referenced Ms. Fortini’s post in the New Yorker blog; for one thing, I was impressed with the author for speaking up about an article from the past.

    When Ree first started posting about the ranch, I read her story. What I liked were the pictures of the actual Oklahoma countryside and learning a bit about modern ranching. I could tell this was not a typical ranch family, but not being knowledgeable about anything doing with cattle and saddles and burning off the fields in the spring, I found the posts interesting.

    I thought of her ranch as an Oklahoma Shangri-la that could be visited in people’s minds when they wanted a little break from their reality. To me, the ‘keeping it real’ motto was the equivalent of a wink and a nod.

    Everyone knows how the blog evolved and I guess a lot of people got hoodwinked. So maybe the TV show has worked out for the best – sort of a home-school visual aid.

  7. I’m glad someone with a wide, diverse audience has told the truth about everyone’s pseudo-ranch wife, but I wish she stated it more bluntly instead of gently mentioning the “derivative” recipes and such. Glossing over the facts softens the truth about PW, a truth people need straight, not mixed down into a more palatable mush that won’t ruffle too many (gilded) feathers.

  8. poppy says:

    I’m having a fun time commenting over on Amanda Fortini’s blog post. I wonder how long my comments will stay up, lol.

  9. Mary Beth says:

    A few days ago MW posted a link to the blog “What We Talk About When We Talk About Food” .In addition to describing PW’s shenanigans he posted the following. “One dude in particular would always cut and paste the title of someone’s post into his comment so that it said “That [title of post] looks great!” or some variation thereof, every single time. On hundreds and hundreds of blogs, like a tireless little spambot. ….The thing is, he now has like 12,000 followers on Google and Facebook, and gets tons of comments on his posts. That transparent, shamelessly impersonal, nearly mechanized pandering in the service of utterly lackluster content worked.”

    Does anyone have a clue as to the identity of the blogger he was talking about? My interest was piqued. (I think that is a more tactful way of saying I’m nosey.)

    • The Marlboro Woman says:

      Could you please clarify who you are referring to as “MW” because I do not recall posting this link. Thanks, :)

      • anon. says:

        It was in your Wick Fowler chili post. If you click on the link “more and more people”, you get to the blog post with that title.

      • poppy says:

        @MW- In your chili post on the 23rd of Jan, you linked up to A Cook Blog.

        I think Peter was talking about Daddy Scratches in his post. He’s really annoying and one of the first to comment on lots of blogs. He also has 1,700 Twitter followers. That is my edumacated guess.

        • The Marlboro Woman says:

          LOL, thanks guys. I had forgotten the name of his blog. :)

        • Mary Beth says:

          Poppy and anon thank you so much. I checked out the Daddy Scratches blog and you are right it is incredibly dull. I’m going to go watch some paint dry for some excitement.

    • ionasky3 says:

      I’m pretty sure he’s talking about Closet Cooking. That guy literally says, “That looks good” on a bunch of foodbloggers posts again and again. The thing is, do it enough times and most bloggers feel guilted into visiting his blog in return and leaving comments. His recipes are all mostly copied from somewhere else, or he doesn’t cite where he comes up with something. His writing is poor. But he was recently a Blogger “blog of note” so he gained tons of new followers because of that.

  10. Humanista says:

    For those of you who live in Oklahoma and have seen a locally produced show called “Oklahomans” ( a one-hour special that airs a few times a year on whichever station they can get it on), our darling Ree is rumored be one of the 3 or 4 people featured on the next one. I’m sure they will fawn all over her and she will repeat all her usual lines.

  11. Rechelle says:

    Okay – I read it. It’s a mite too diplomatic for my tastes. Good Lord Amanda! She pulled the wool over your eyes! Why not stick a steak knife in hers? It would certainly make for a better read!

  12. Rechelle says:

    No way! I’ve got to go and check out that blog. I am so excited to hear this!

  13. Suz says:

    How appropriate that this article hits the web right before next week’s 92Y event in NY.

    • The Marlboro Woman says:

      Plus her BHTTW novel comes out in paperback on Feb.14. Perfect timing.

      • Suz says:

        I saw that, too. I’m stuck on the couch today drinking water and clear liquids for my little over-50 procedure in the morning (sorry — TMI). But that explains why I’ve been all over the internet and just shaking my head. I noticed all these little book blogs making the BIG announcement about the paperback. AND, if you pre-order or something like that, REE will include some special recipes to go along with the book. There’s some folks out there really working it for the ranchfolk.

        I also found a current pic of PW & Laddie & the Senator’s Wife — I’ll see if I can find that again. Not that it’s anything you’ll want to look at….but when I saw the photo, I wondered how her little followers would feel knowing she parties it up with the OK socialites on the weekend and moans “poor me” on the blog.

        • Charlie says:

          I love it how she’s referred as The Senator’s Wife when it should be State Senator’s wife. Libby Dole & Calista were The Senator’s Wives.

  14. Denise says:

    As a former newspaper journalist and now a freelance writer, I have to say that as a whole, journalists are a very cynical group. And as much as they build people up, they love to tear them down. Look at James Frey and his “A Million Little Pieces,” and Greg Mortenson of “Three Cups of Tea.” The most harm to the Pioneer Woman won’t be financially, but emotionally. Can her ego handle the criticism? Can her family handle the harshness? There will always be people who want to believe a fairy tale. But more people will lose interest and move on to the next “star.”

    • The Marlboro Woman says:

      At last, the gild’s off the lily. Note Ree will bury her head in the sand just like she did with the Paula Deen news and the cries of plagiarism thinking if she ignores the situation, it will go away.

    • SSK says:

      Last week on the Today Show they were talking about how the Kardashian’s had knocked Paris Hilton off her pedestal and soon the Kardashian’s would be knocked out of first place by someone else. These folks who rise to sudden “stardom” will only be there for a short time. They’ll still be around, but they won’t have nearly the popularity or influence that they have at their peak.

      My first thought was how soon will someone knock Ree Drummond off her pedestal — and who will it be. Not many bloggers have the resources she does to buy her way into it.

  15. Mary Beth says:

    This is the first time I have had the opportunity to read Ms. Fortini’s New Yorker articles. I think the quote from Ed Levine of “Serious Eats” describes her the best. “She’s quietly, insanely ambitious.” – and he’s supposed to be her friend.

    • The Marlboro Woman says:

      Ree, as she’s prone to do, targeted Levine as a top-notch blogger worthy of an on-line friendship. Levine bought into it but obviously had no idea he was being used as a means to Ree’s self-serving ends.

  16. It had to happen one day. We can’t be the only smart women on this planet. Ms. Fortini should have ended her article with Fooled me once, shame on you, Fooled me twice, shame on me. But then, we have supreme court judges who believe that corporations are people, oh wait, those were men, scratch that. Anyway, I’m glad to see women waking up to the stupidity PW puts out. Life is good today.

  17. Bee says:

    This is very interesting. The New Yorker is the place for fraud to be exposed. It must be circulating among the NY foodies and within the network that the show is a bust. The demographics must show that no one other than the wannabees are tuning in. It is really painful watching the show. Attesting that the recipes are “derivative” is the author’s polite way of calling out Ree’s plagiarism. Ree has already made her millions, and the Drummonds are not exactly in the poor house to begin with. So it’s still an end run for Pdub.

    • Humanista says:

      Why do you think The Food Network gave her another round? I was so surprised the show came back after Christmas. And it’s no better, except she’s realized she needs to powder her shiny forehead.

  18. Kait says:

    Not too much of a skewering. Too bad it was only online and not in the magazine. I like that she didn’t allow her original article to stand for her though. Perhaps she knows something we don’t and when the PW ship sinks she doesn’t want to be painted with the “how could you not have know?” brush.

  19. Florista says:

    I’m glad someone was able to ‘out’ her in the press (no offense, MW, PWSux, or PieNear). Maybe that will give Ree a preview of the karma coming her way…

  20. egReegious says:

    It’s very interesting to read Fortini’s original post last May, and then read the recent post. I think the scales have fallen from her eyes. I agree that the FN shows are unmitigated disasters, but the sheeple still eat them up.

    • Hellen Wheels says:

      I think there is some ass-covering going on over at Camp Fortini. That blog post, while not actually repudiating her previous column, had a definite tone of backing away from the PDumb Kool-Aid.

      You know, kind of like when somebody f*rts in a crowd and everyone else backs away in order to disassociate themselves.