TV Review: Masterchef 2013 – Boys vs Girls

This column was originally published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 4th June 2013.

Call me old fashioned, but when it comes to reality TV cooking competitions, I prefer Masterchef. Sure, there are other (and higher rating) options available but I like my cooking competitions to be more about the food and less about human melodrama, double crosses and stereotypes.

So it was with a heavy heart that I witnessed the debut episode of the new season of Masterchef on Sunday night. Expecting the same old, comfortable format of previous years, I was horrified when judges George, Gary and cravat guy announced that the theme was boys versus girls.

Battle of the sexes? Really? Really? In a competition based on individual achievement, what relevance does the number of Y chromosomes have on one’s ability to prepare food for human consumption? What’s next? Battle of the blood types? Battle of the races? Plants versus zombies?

The episode began with the new array of kitchen cannon fodder arriving at the MCG for a showdown worthy of a place amongst the greatest competitions ever played on the hallowed turf: separating egg whites. Insert record scratch here. For the record, self-confessed cooking nerd Rishi bested opera singer Clarissa to separate 1kg of whites. Woohoo, boys rule!

The teams then rushed down, down (prices are down) to the nearest non-specific supermarket with only $204, representing the average family spend on groceries per week, to buy ingredients for a 3 course meal for fourteen. The boys had a few bucks more for winning the Great MCG Egg White Challenge™. I’m still not entirely sure about the link between the weekly expenditure statistic and the spending limit for a single meal, but who cares? It’s boys versus girls!

Desperation (for ratings) was the main scent emanating from the Masterchef kitchen as the producers immediately established the heroes and villains for the new season. Michael is the misogynist. Noelene is the eye rolling sarcastic divorcee. Jules likes to sledge the boys and call it like it is. A dispute at the supermarket over which ingredients to lose when the girls overspent led to the social worker labelling her teammates as “moles.” Wow, infighting already. It’s so My Kitchen Rules.

Clarissa is the annoying bossy one. As she dumped ingredients off the conveyor belt at the checkout, ethnic housewife with a heart of gold Samira was heard to utter, “Don’t let Clarissa touch my nuts”, without a hint of irony or innuendo. Unfortunately, this was the high point of the show.

To squeeze in yet another reference to the nameless supermarket chain sponsoring the program, the producers have also included an employee in the competition. Faiza, a veteran checkout chick with 8 years experience, saved the day for the female team by proposing that they half a clove of garlic to save 40c. Her employee discount card may have been more useful.

The fact that I am writing about the contestants and not the food isn’t a good sign for Masterchef Season 5. Falling ratings have prompted changes to the original format which replicate characteristics of its competitors. I’m predicting that Masterchef becoming more like the others will make it harder for viewers to distinguish it in a crowded reality TV marketplace. It’s been fun but I’m voting myself out of the Masterchef kitchen this year.

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Published in: on June 30, 2013 at 16:01  Leave a Comment  
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