MasterChef has lost the ratings only days into its latest season. And there’s a simple reason why. James Weir recaps.
MasterChef is bad for Australia’s self-esteem.
The Channel 10 cooking franchise was once a celebration of home cooks that made us all feel better about the crappy midweek meals we’ve been surviving off for years. Suburban mum Julie Goodwin – who was crowned the winner of season one when it aired over a decade ago – represented all of us.
Now, it seems like every contestant is a pro. Everything’s too fancy. They’re all using weird ingredients that none of us know what to do with.
Jerusalem artichokes? Ooh-la-la. Who are you cooking for – the queen?
The new season kicked off this week and flopped in the ratings. Pulling in just 545,000 metro viewers, it was beaten by the premiere of Seven’s The Voice (843,000 metro viewers) and Nine’s Lego Masters (672,000 metro viewers).
Dubbed Fans Vs. Favourites, the latest instalment pits a group of newbies against a group of former contestants. It has been a rough 12 months for Channel 10 – with several of the network’s tentpole shows likeThe Bachelor and The Bachelorette completely tanking.
MasterChef was once considered a television juggernaut, and the network thought it could recapture the magic of early seasons by bringing back inaugural winner Julie Goodwin. It was a last Hail Mary and even that hasn’t worked.
Because she’s now outnumbered by contestants who keep making ritzy dishes that none of us regular people can cook.
Julie Goodwin is all of us. She’s the only one keeping it real. It’s like when you go to a party alone and you’re surrounded by people who are too cool, leaving you immediately full of regret and wishing you’d gone with a more daring outfit. There’s no shame in being a Julie Goodwin.
If you own one of her cookbooks, you’ll know how simple the recipes are. The woman doesn’t muck around. She’s a busy mum of three and she doesn’t have time to do several trips to different specialty grocers to source mystical ingredients.
Remember when she appeared on the first season? She cooked normal food and when she’d present it to the judges she’d say, “Ah, yeah, I usually make this for my boys when they get home from sport”.
The same can’t be said for her fellow contestants.
On this latest season, most of the returning faves are actually now professional chefs and have opened their own restaurants. One of them did time at Heston Blumenthal’s famed three-Michelin star kitchen.
Even some of the amateur newbies are too lavish for their own good.
The priorities of the show are now all out of whack. Julie’s there cooking for a teenage footy team and everyone else is cooking for Sydney socialites.
Looking around at the other contestants, the woman is racked with feelings of inferiority.
This week, she was up against two of the newbies – and she was shaking with nerves because she was worried she wasn’t as swanky as they were.
“These guys are really good cooks. I don’t know if this cauliflower soup is enough,” she stressed.
You’re Julie freakin’ Goodwin! You won the first season! You shouldn’t be concerned about these nobodies!
But she was.
Even that outrageously handsome judge Jock Zonfrillo had to give her a pep talk.
“I need you to just let it wash through your brain … You’re not an OG. You’re a winner,” he said.
“But what you are, more importantly, is a classic. Okay? And classics never get old. Classics are very hard to beat.”
Reality shows just aren’t what they once were. These days, everyone’s a little too polished. They enter the competition knowing exactly how they’ll play the game.
The early seasons of MasterChef were like the early seasons of Big Brother – normal people who didn’t know what they were in for. That was also back in the day when not everyone was hot. It was a simpler time, BV (Before Veneers).
Now people are going on shows hoping to fast-track their dreams and launch media careers. Or to just get into amateur porn.
Pretty soon, even on MasterChef, there’ll be at least one contestant every season who’ll parlay their kitchen popularity into a career as an OnlyFans model.
There’ll be nude pics of them holding their Spatchcocked chicken. And racy videos of themselves using a croquembouche to cover their … croquembouche.
Twitter, Facebook: @hellojamesweir
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