Saturday, I spent 45 minutes torturing J. He deserved it because he suggested I watch the Gordon Ramsay Americanized Masterchef. We had some degree of hope because we adore the BBC version of Masterchef. The conceits of both are the same – people with limited experience working in restaurant kitchens compete for the opportunity to actually work in a restaurant kitchen. Everyone starts by having an hour to cook their signature dish. Beyond that, the executions are completely different.
Why the British Masterchef is awesome
This is probably a treatise on why British reality tv is better the the US version. What’s great about the BBC version is that it focuses on the cooking and not the people. Most of the people have similar stories – home cooks who have a great dish, short order cooks in fast food restaurants, career changers – so BBC focuses on what makes their signature dish good or bad. They talk about balance of flavors and plating and things that actually matter to a restaurant. Moreover, for every contestant they feature you see the dish and its critique. As the series goes on, the contestants get winnowed down by doing things like working the line in a real restaurant. On that score, the critiques are thoughtful. In the two seasons we watched, we didn’t see anyone get moved forward because they had a sob story or were good television (e.g. being crazy ass drama queens). And finally, why BBC Masterchef kicks Fox’s Masterchef’s ass? No one, no matter how bad the food, spits it out.
Why Fox’s Masterchef Blows Chunks
Or more accurately, why Gordon Ramsay gets a personality transplant when he comes to the United States. This Masterchef is every damn reality competition trope you can throw at the TV. Evil, screaming, British person who cuts everyone down (dialed to 11). Arrogant, cocky dudes. People with sob stories of dead parents, children or spouses. Stupid ass suspenseful music. The thing is, even on a technical level this show goes very very wrong. The pacing is completely off. They actually show the food and critiques for about three people. The rest is just quick cuts. And like any American reality competition, the judging is completely arbitrary. In only one case does the quality of the food relate to the contestant getting chosen. The rest is because “they have the passion to make it.” Heaven forbid they actually have the competence to make it.
I’ve gotta say, I’m walking away from this show because J doesn’t want to spend 45 minutes a week hearing me scream.