Reality TV: why MasterChef Australia stands out in an oversaturated crowd

Everyone enjoys watching a bit of reality TV once in a while. Whether you are a proud fan of Love Island or your guilty pleasure is watching Made in Chelsea it is hard not to be gripped when watching and judging the lives of other people. One of my favourite reality and competition shows of all time is MasterChef Australia. For those who don’t know, MasterChef is a reality tv show in which people who have a passion for cooking compete to win a grand prize that will jump-start their career as a chef. The show began in the UK and today is broadcast in 60 countries around the world. What then distinguishes MasterChef Australia from other TV shows and from other versions of MasterChef?


MasterChef Australia was voted the most popular reality series in the world by the Global TV Demand Awards in 2021 and rightly so. The show has been on air for 14 seasons but the first 11 are superior. At the heart of the show is the dynamic trio of original judges Gary Mehigan, George Calombaris and Matt Preston. Each judge has a unique charm: whether it be the long-running jokes about Preston’s Corvette ties, the knowledge and love for Greek food that Calombaris has as a result of his heritage or the mix of Mehigan’s English and Australian humour, they all contribute massively to why the show has been so popular. The judges take the pressure out from the competition and create a positive and uplifting environment that sets the show apart from the other versions of MasterChef. It is also clear that the original judges are close in real life and Preston commented that they had all ‘formed a lifelong friendship’ after walking away from the show together in 2019 when they were refused a pay rise.


This warm atmosphere is carried into other aspects of the show such as the soundtrack and the narrator’s commentary. While the English version of MasterChef feels cold and sterile, the narration of Ian ‘Lofty’ Fulton displays both the passion and hard work of the chefs as well as the professional vibe of MasterChef incredibly well. The soundtrack also creates a different energy to that of the English version as the catchy pop intro in Australia is more fun and playful than the intense instrumental theme song of the original. Have you ever wondered whether your favourite contestant on a TV show achieved their dreams despite losing out on the grand prize? One feature I love about MasterChef Australia is the fact that at the end of the show they tell us exactly this. A lot of the time the contestants are working towards their goals which is inspiring. As a result of this segment, the production feels genuine and not clinical like other reality TV shows can sometimes.


I think that the format of the show also contributes to why I love MasterChef Australia so much. The production takes place over a much larger number of episodes than the UK version as each contestant is eliminated one by one. Although this makes the show a commitment to watch, it also allows the audience to get to know the contestants more naturally over time as you would in a real relationship. The show cycles through a weekly format which airs from Sunday to Thursday each week. Each Sunday and Wednesday features a challenge day where the judges test the contestants on their cooking knowledge through a variety of tests such as the mystery box challenge or team trials. On Monday and Thursday, those who perform the worst in the challenge get placed into an elimination battle which sees one contestant leave the show each episode. On Tuesday, the contestant who performs the best in one of the challenges faces a professional chef to win the benefit of immunity from a future challenge. The variety of these challenges means that there is never a dull moment and the audience is kept on the edge of their seat throughout the season. In addition, the show features a range of guest judges each week such as Nigella Lawson and Gordon Ramsey who return each year with new surprises for the contestants. The fact that all the guest judges return so frequently speaks volumes about how enjoyable the filming experience must be and this comes across while watching at home.

 MasterChef Australia is truly worth watching at least once if you enjoy reality TV shows and gawking at amazing food. Even if neither of these things are true, the friendly atmosphere that the cast build and the editing which creates drama and tension are enough to warrant everyone to give it a go. The camaraderie of all the contestants is something that I think is missing from a lot of good television these days and makes the show feel like a breath of fresh air.



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