Why do people like Master Chef?
I’m a person who enjoys watching Master Chef Australia on Channel 10 most nights, despite my inability to cook (but my ability to eat makes up for it). Master Chef is the new reality-TV craze, apparently, raking in about 1.5 million viewers a night. I know a lot of people like it, but why exactly do people like it?
If you think about it, all it really is is a bunch of nobodies cooking. What’s the twist? Um … they have to cook with coloured aprons? Hmm no, that can’t be it. I don’t know, there is no twist. I guess the twist is that they’re cooking for prize money. Wait, this happens all the time in restaurants, but I don’t see anyone getting excited about watching that.
And thus is the premise of reality TV – taking something completely ordinary and dramatising it one hundredfold to make money. Sometimes I laugh at the ads or the teasers just before commercial breaks because it’s just so ridiculous – a dramatic voice over similar to those over suspenseful crime shows will say something like “After the break, the judges will taste the cheescake….<insert epic music>” Ohhh the suspense! The undue riveting drama that’s about to unfold! Our minds will be blown!
All jokes aside, there really something is very addictive about it. I think it’s because it’s a ‘nice’ reality TV show that everyone can enjoy (besides bulimics?), where nobody’s humiliated or demeaned *coughBiggestLoser*, everyone keeps their clothes on and no stupid romances arise *coughBigBrother*, it’s not cliché *coughAustralianIdol*, and the premise isn’t completely stupid *FarmerWantsAWife*.
However, because I’m Doro and I always find something to complain about, I do have a few gripes with Master Chef.
I know Channel 10 has to make money and I don’t blame them for being greedy bastards, but it’s gotten to a point where they’ve stopped trying to be subtle and the advertising is just screaming at you in the actual show rather than in the commercial breaks.
For example, the paper towels that Matt Preston endorses. That used to strictly be in the ad breaks, but I facepalmed myself when Sharnee dropped her ingredients and had to clean them up. With what? WITH HANDEE ULTRA WIPES OF COURSE! And then you see Matt Preston chuckling because he’s thinking “Excellent, a chance to show off how great these wipes are!” and he goes to help her clean up. Too bad they edited out the part where he tripped her over so that he could do that. Oh and let’s not forget that they then used this scene in the actual ad for the towels. Smooth.
Even last night’s product placement was a bit ridiculous, where the team challenge was to cook on a plane. I had in my head that they’d be up in the air and the passengers would be eating and judging the food, because the judges were saying “Yes, buckle your seatbelts! 9000 feet off the ground! More plane puns!”. Otherwise, they could just do the challenge in a normal kitchen, right? But oh, I was wrong. Not only were they just placing already-made food on a plate in a stationary plane on the ground, but the judges were in fact outside of the plane on the ground and tasting the food. So why couldn’t they just do an ordinary challenge in the kitchen where they’re not allowed to use raw fish, fresh herbs, whatever? I’ll tell you why: because how else are they going to advertise Qantas?!
Of course, it’s reality television and the rule is that someone always has to cry. But honestly, sob stories and tears have no place in the kitchen (unless you’re that guy in the pasta ad who weeps when he cooks, or you’re chopping onions). The thing I hate most about reality TV is that people’s weaknesses are exploited for the sake of entertainment. For example, in Australian Idol particularly, someone would say how their mother is dead or badly mutilated or something and the judges will just continually press the topic until the waterworks are switched on.
This isn’t so much the case in Master Chef, but especially in the earlier episodes, there would be someone crying about something every time. It’s particularly annoying when the reason that they’re sobbing has absolutely nothing to do with cooking. But oh well, it can’t all be fun and games, right? Seriously though, when someone says that their dish was inspired from their dead mother, what can you say after hearing that? “This is a horrible dish that made me projectile vomit”? No, it’d be insensitive to criticise a dish after being told it has some emotional or sentimental meaning! They’ll immediately lose viewers who are incredibly sensitive about everything and will be offended by anything unorthodox!
Oh and then there’s the dramatisation of when someone can’t handle the pressure anymore, which consequently leads them to cry. How thoughtful of the camera crew to rush after them and zoom in on their distraught faces, so that us viewers can be entertained by another human being’s misery. (On a side note, I did feel sorry for Callum when he broke down – someone cut him some slack, please! I can just imagine him just going crazy one day and butchering everyone with chef knives because the judges keep yelling at him. Now that would make great TV!)
I only have one thing to say about this: the time when Matt Preston threw Aaron’s plate on the floor and said it was disgusting <commercial break> …ly good. I wonder what Matt Preston would do to a disgustingly cute baby?