I came across this article a couple weeks ago, and it made me think about the value of cooking shows. I watch the Food Network a lot. In fact, Bobby has complained that's all I watch. And it is, mostly.
I like cooking, but that didn't really start until I was in college. My mom taught me how to make a few things - scrambled eggs, pancakes, spaghetti, boxed mac-and-cheese and rice-a-roni. Were I out on my own, I could feed myself, no problem. But I actually learned about how to cook via the Food Network.
The shows may make everything look easy, and that may be false representation, but it also makes you a little more willing to try it out. And then there's the fact that they are often showing a technique that you can use when cooking similar foods - Rachael Ray tought me what a roux is, and I learned about tempering from Alton Brown. It's that kind of knowledge that allows me to better understand what's happening when I watch people cook now.