Bill Maher on the Midwest: 'We have chef Wolfgang Puck, they have Chef Boyardee'

Among things you won't find in flyover country, according to ol' Bill: "those trendy bars where the inside looks like the outside."

Among things you won't find in flyover country, according to ol' Bill: "those trendy bars where the inside looks like the outside." YouTube

We're very sorry, but we're about to make you read about Bill Maher. 

Because the man did something quite frankly impressive this weekend, pissing off Republicans and Democrats alike in a rant about Amazon, class disparity, and the differences between red and blue states.

Encouraging a booted-from-NY Jeff Bezos to consider moving Amazon's headquarters to the Midwest or the South rather than the coasts, the HBO host argued that "the flyover states have become the passed-over states," and that the only jobs out here are "guarding prisoners or murdering chickens."

"The blue parts of America are having a big prosperity party," Maher... jokes, technically? And yeah, MN is blue, but we're taking offense here on behalf of our fellow flyover states. "While that big sea of red feels like their invitation got lost in the mail—and they still use the mail."

(I, for one, am proud to use the mail. You ever gotten a package from a pal when you're having a shit day? It feels really nice! Maybe Maher just doesn't have friends who care about him, who can say!)

Elsewhere in this revolutionary "some places are like this; other places are like this" routine, he tackles Midwestern cuisine: "We have chef Wolfgang Puck, and they have Chef Boyardee."

He has a few additional cringe-y, pro-gentrification hot takes on food: Once you get an Amazon, "Asians come and open a Chinese restaurant! And then Jews come, because there’s a Chinese restaurant!" Also, you'll get “one of those trendy bars where inside looks like the outside.” (We have at least a few of those.)

"There's no Real Housewives of Toledo or CSI: Lubbock," he adds. "There are no red carpets in Wyoming, and no one ever asks you, 'Who are you wearing?' Because the answer is always: 'Target.'"


We don't have to tell you this, but apparently it bears repeating: Good food isn't something that's specific to the coasts; the attitude that good food is specific to the coasts is. There's nothing wrong with buying your clothes at Target, and if there was a Real Housewives of Toledo, people would probably tune in every fucking week.

Parts of Maher's argument ring true—I don't think many would argue that "we have a problem in America called spatial geographic inequality, which means that the most affluent and educated people are clustered in just a few cities." But elsewhere in the condescending monologue, the man with the most punchable face in liberal America argues that Amazon could buy the whole state of Mississippi—the poorest state in the union—and rename it "Amazippi."

This is the quality content you're missing if you don't have an HBO subscription, folks. And we can't help wondering if that sort of sneering self-satisfaction contributes to the very disparities to which Maher is referring. Maybe it's he, not Bezos, who could stand to take a trip to a flyover state or two. 

For the record, red states, the Midwest—they aren't one massive conglomeration of filthy poors who need a new megacorporation to come save them. For the record, some of us are more than a little skeptical of what an Amazon HQ would mean for our cities. 

Sure, we dunk on Wisconsin from time to time, and yes, we've picked a fight or two with Iowa. But that's like picking on your kid sister: It's okay when Midwest media does it because we know what's up. Some of us like living in the Midwest.

And anyway, maybe Maher isn't exactly the hot shot he thinks he is. In the words of (New York-based) Food and Wine senior editor Kat Kinsman:

Anyway. You can watch Maher's monologue in full below, if that's something you're into.