Whether it’s the thrill of a Mystery Box Challenge or Joe’s snide comments on a dish that misses the mark, “MasterChef” found a way to attract viewers by the millions, including me. I love Gordon Ramsay as is, but add in the appeal of seeing ambitious home cooks as contestants, and I’m hooked.
“MasterChef” was a success from the beginning in 2010 and continues to be a top contender. This season proves to be just as successful for this top American cooking show in terms of ratings and my personal weekly dedication—the question is, with all the cooking shows on TV right now, why is this one so great?
“MasterChef” Always Tells a Good Story
The main reason I can’t get enough of “MasterChef” is because of how I can connect with these contestants. I love hearing their backstories and I feel like I get to know the contestants on a personal level. I love getting to know what inspires each of them, and I often find I share certain things with some of the contestants. I end up rooting on these particular contestants on their journey, as if cheering on part of myself at the same time.
My family and I love Willie “Big Willie” Mike, a lovable 25-year-old church music director from Houston, Texas, who comes from humble roots working in the ministry. As the vast majority of people in the world, and thus likely a large portion of viewers, believe in one faith or another, we can all connect with Mike’s dedication to his church and his warm personality.
I’m a Home Cook Too
I don’t have a personal chef and I haven’t spent years in culinary school, so I can identify as a “home cook.” Seeing other home cooks producing such tantalizing food week after week always keeps me coming back (and telling myself, “hey, I could do that!”)
Learning to cook from my mother and her mother before her, I relate to the contestants’ love for cooking and desire to do something more with this passion. No one can follow that passion for you, and these contestants are willing to go on national television to see their dreams through—or not, which is particularly heartbreaking for the characters I’ve “gotten to know” and root for each week.
“MasterChef” Perfects Core Elements of Appealing TV
“MasterChef” is a dominant force on whatever evening the show’s episodes broadcast, which demonstrates the audience’s love of both the show itself and cooking competitions in general. It is comprised of mini competitions, which is an innate draw. I love to see how people innovate and perform under pressure to produce food that leaves me in awe.
Then comes the drama, which stems from tension between contestant personalities and their strategies for keeping or booting their fellow contestants.
This season, tension surrounds the eldest contestant, Leslie Gilliams, a 56-year-old stay-at-home dad from Malibu, California, who doesn’t hide his wealth and easy lifestyle. This laissez-faire persona and his competitive, sometimes boisterous, attitude drives many contestants to dislike Gilliams, and he is the target of criticism and attempts to send him packing.
I have to admit, it’s fun to see these petty arguments and tensions unravel between contestants, particularly as they try to send Gilliams to “the dreaded Pressure Test,” where Ramsay could eliminate him. Gilliams turns out to be a decent chef and top contender in several mini-competitions, so he hasn’t gone anywhere, much to the dismay of those who loathe his continued presence on the show.
I find Gilliams to be irksome, but I respect him as a cook and am glad that he’s still around. And OK, maybe I like that he’s still here to piss everyone off too—the reactions are priceless!
Between the show’s elements of competition, drama, and most of all, relativity, “MasterChef” perfected the trifecta of successful primetime television. If you’re a foodie, or just like competitions, tune in and see which characters you’d like to see race to the top of America’s top cooking competition.
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Photo: Greg Gayne / FOX