Padma, the Sympathetic Survivor

Not so long ago, Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi got roundly drubbed by Internet wisenheimers for dabbling in the world of sitcoms. She is regularly tweaked for being a triumph of sexy style over substance. The whole thing with the mystery baby has been no picnic, either. But, ultimately, she's gorgeous, famous, and well compensated, and that seems to even out the flak from haters.

Slate, however, recently did something unpredictable—it put the sympathy ball squarely in Lakshmi's court. This was accomplished by detailing and deconstructing the nasty and extraordinarily well-funded custody lawsuit being pressed against Lakshmi by ex-boyfriend and baby daddy Adam Dell.

Described by the magazine as a "detailed declaration of war," the suit is nasty, personal, and filed in the New York Supreme Court, which means that the details go public via the Internet almost instantly.

The summary version: "Its message to the public is that Lakshmi is cold-hearted and promiscuous (she wasn't even sure who the father of her child was, after all). To Lakshmi, the suit says two things. First, Dell is willing to outspend her. ... Second, by trumpeting his version of the story in the press and in the courts, he's attempting to mar Lakshmi's image and hurt her career as a cable host."

It seems that far from marring Lakshmi's image, the lawsuit is going to humanize her and garner sympathy from viewers and critics alike. Much like the battlefield, the world of lawsuits is a place ruled by unintended consequences.

Image source: YouTube