Wednesday, June 20, 2012

MasterChef Observations

:: Christine Ha is the winner. Goodnight, everybody!

Okay, she's not the winner yet, I just don't see a future where she isn't the winner of the third MasterChef actually occuring. As per usual on American talent competitions, you have to keep in mind that it's only 50% about talent; the rest is about finding someone likable and sympathetic with a great marketing hook. Christine Ha is very likable and sympathetic and has a great marketing hook because she's very talented, very sweet and nice, and also blind. And I think once the judges tasted her first dish, they immediately started looking at her as someone who would make a great winner: a blind MasterChef! Someone who struggled with a degenerative illness that attacked her eyes, lost her sight, and overcame that to become a great chef who can't even see her own cooking. It's a triumph! The Good Morning, America piece writes itself!

Okay, okay, sorry to be so damn cynical about it. Honestly, I like Christine, and she obviously knows what she's doing. She comes across as a very nice and easy to like person who has a rare gift for flavor combinations and who is somehow able to make gorgeous dishes. I just think the editing and the excitement about her on MasterChef dehumanize her a little bit and turn her from a person into a Media Story or a Plot Device for a Reality Competition Series. They want to paint everything she does as a triumph merely because she lives and copes with being blind. It takes away from what she does (and does well). I'd like to see them be able to say "Wow, your talent is amazing!" instead of "Wow, your talent is amazing and you're blind!"

But yeah, I think she's going to win if only because she's the easiest one to market, and that's very important for a competition that desperately wants to pretend it's an American institution and creates amazing winners you never hear from ever again if you even remember who they are. It's much easier to build excitement than it is to translate that excitement into financial profits.

:: I see Ryan is this season's villain. Too bad he's so bad at it. He's not interesting or evil, he's just stupid and douchey, and has terrible taste in clothing (it wasn't even cool to wear Zubaz in 1992, it sure as hell isn't now). Another entitled white trust fund baby waving his dick around, and he hates Monti because she won't translate his clumsy and horrible sexual interest as the compliment he probably seriously believes it is. (The older I get, the more impatient I am with men who think "I really want to sleep with you" is supposed to be a comment on a woman's worth or character and that she should take it as such.)

:: Speaking of Monti Carlo, I didn't like her until last night. I agreed with Joe that a lot of her is shtick, and her "This is what I think housewives looked like in the 1950s but with catseye glasses" hipster thing is the female equivalent of 15 years ago when a bunch of guys saw Swingers and started wearing open bowling shirts and straw hats. I find that kind of thing irritating, and I found her desperation and lack of confidence a bit grating because it tended to come out in over-the-top reaction shots. But after watching her shine last night, foiling both Ryan's attempts to get her kicked out of the kitchen and his creepy sexual comments, I am totally on her side. Not that she needs me on her side, but I now feel invested in her success.

:: People I want to go home: Ryan, Tali and his idiotic hat, maybe Becky (she talks about how great she is an awful lot for someone whose food wasn't even tasted by the judges until last night, but she was also very, very efficient on the line).

People I think I like so far: Josh, Scott, Stacey.

People I'm totally rooting for: Christine, Monti, Felix.

Will I also be blogging about Hell's Kitchen? Nope. Too frustrating. But I sure do think Celemenza should be leading that blue kitchen!


Kelly Sedinger said...

DO you get the feeling that after the first season, the producers took Joe Bastianich aside and said, "OK, you can keep the poker stare, but stop coming off like Captain Asshole"? He seems like so much more of a human being this year (which started a bit last year).

SamuraiFrog said...

Every season he gets closer and closer to being recognizably human. He was impossible to like that first season when he was just a cold snob, but now he's relaxed a bit and the stare comes across like his shtick. I'm sure somebody told him to work on that.