By Ken Tucker
Updated August 27, 2009 at 02:50 PM EDT

I notice that a lot of the Comments on my colleague Archana Ram’s Top Chef: Las Vegas TV Watch are about Ashley’s irritation at having to compete in a challenge to cater meals for a straight couple about to get married. Most of the comments are anti-Ashley.

I’ll bet you anything that Ashley was following one of the rules of reality TV, if you’re a smart contestant, which is: If you want something to survive the editing process, say it over and over in as many provocative ways as you can. Ashley wanted to make a point about the unequal laws regarding gay marriage, so she articulated it in a variety of ways at various times. (For one example, look about 1:27 into this clip.)

But then there’s another rule of reality TV: If one of your contestants gives you a hot topic, you run with it. You edit as many of his or her comments into your show as you can, hoping… it will provoke the reaction that Ashley seems to have gotten from many EW readers. You know, either, “Yay, Ashley,” or “Why does she have to bring social issues into a cooking show?”

This runs the risk of boring your audience, of course. At a certain point last night, I was saying, “Yeah, I get it, I get it, Ashley!” But on some level, she can’t be blamed for the repetition. She was trying to be honest about her feelings, and Top Chef was trying to spice up an episode. (I mean, thank heaven Eve was sent packing: What a drab player. Half the time, I couldn’t even understand what she was mumbling.)

Did you watch last night? What did you think about Ashley?