Masterchef USA: A Complete Failure vs. Masterchef Australia
Masterchef is an older series that has inspired millions of people to cook. However, going on the third season of Masterchef US there have been more and more problematic areas when compared with other series, especially with what I think is the best series - Masterchef Australia.
Here we will look at the differences in content, production, judges, and contestants to see how different they are and what the problem areas of Masterchef US are.
A Large Difference In Content
Masterchef US and Australia have quite a large number of differences, but the most shocking is content. Firstly, the Australian version has 70-80+ episodes per season (a few every week). For the US version the first season had 13 episodes, the second 20, and third will probably be 22 for a total of 55 episodes in 3 years. This format alone leads to very large differences in content.
Masterchef US has a mystery box challenge or some field trip competition and then if there was a team challenge there is a pressure test, however lately in season 3 they have mainly been doing only solo competitions to weed people out.
Masterchef Australia has an episode 6 days a week.
Sunday: Challenge Night. Can be Mystery Box followed by an invention test, or a field trip challenge.
Monday: Pressure Test. Contestants battle to stay in the competition.
Tuesday: Immunity Challenge. Winning contestants fight against a real Chef to gain immunity.
Wednesday: Team Challenge. Contestants are split into teams and fight for a win.
Thursday: Pressure Test. The losing team fights to not go home.
Friday: Master Class. Everyone gets to learn from the Judges and guest Chefs, some winners get to go to a special master class to learn special things privately.
With Australia having a huge amount of content and the US lacking quite a bit, from content standards alone the the US starts failing in comparison.
Down below is a prime example of some of the main format, tone, and personality differences: Firstly, a Master Class. Secondly, the interaction with the judge. Thirdly, the interaction of the contestants.
The Gordon Ramsay Production Problems and More.
Gordon Ramsay seems to have different personalities based on what program he is on. In Kitchen Nightmares and Masterchef, he tends to be able to take a nicer line and be more sentimental. On the later seasons of Hells Kitchen he is a loud, bullying chef that underlines every error, impact, or shouting match with horribly cheesy camera effects or sound effects. However, what does the Gordon Ramsay production problem do with Masterchef?
Simply, it caters to the lowest reality TV standards.
1. In Hells Kitchen lately, most of the time a horrible chef will be saved over a good chef, especially if they scream and cause drama. This is purely to create an enemy - someone to hate and yell at.
In Masterchef US: Currently in Season 2 there is a contestant still in the game that should have left ages ago. He is incompetent, the chefs spit his food out, throw it everywhere, etc. The contestants keep saying "I don't know why he is here", and so does everyone else. This is to create an enemy and someone to cause drama for American reality TV standards, and I find it insulting and wrong on so many levels.
2. Misleading "next time on" clips. There are countless times in any of Ramsay's shows where it shows a clip of Ramsay screaming, someone crying, and something being broken, leading to it looking like someone messed up horribly and will go home. However, these clips can come from any time through the episode and be over 10 minutes apart from each other. Highly misleading in order to get a drama factor and get people to watch the next episode.
3. Misleading phrasing. This is a small issue. "Never before in Masterchef US history has _ happened" is a common wording from Ramsay. Interestingly enough as it is only the first or second season, it is true. However, it feels redundant and brings me out of whatever he was trying to say because it just sounds so ridiculous. "Never before have we ___"... Well, maybe if you had more than 20 episodes it would be surprising.
1. Joe. Just a restaurateur, can't cook, and was sued by his wait staff for 5 million for skimming their tips. For those of you who don't know, waiters are taxed on a percentage of sales projected as tips so he was stealing a lot of money from them.
2. Showing who goes into elimination rounds in the opening teasers. Really? You just ruined the whole first half of the episode because now we know which team losses.
There are more, but you can start to see the bad patterns if you watch it yourself.
Masterchef Judges: US vs Australia
In looking over the US judges we have Gordon Ramsay, Joe Bastianich, and Graham Elliot. Interestingly enough, they try to play Good cop, middle cop, and bad cop. Graham is nice to almost everyone, Gordon is nice at times, but sometimes bad, and Joe is just plain rude to everyone most of the time.
Masterchef US judges have very large personality differences from the Masterchef Australia judges. Firstly, the Australian counterparts never spit food out, throw plates around, nor throw tantrums when food isn't perfect - in fact they often try to help the contestant if they are really struggling. The US judges usually scowl and complain that it looks disgusting or is completely wrong.
The way the judges are presented are completely different too. In Australia they are mentors, teaching you how to cook and share their years of cooking experience. In the US they are harsh taskmasters that will flay you for looking at them wrong. Furthermore, you rarely learn anything from the US judges whereas you are constantly learning tips and tricks from the Australian show.
While both series like to have touching stories, the US one seems a bit more put on. Some of them seem pretty fake, or selected by producers to make good reality TV. This couples with some of the odd choices the judges make -keeping bad chefs with a lot of drama over good chefs that are nice to everyone for instance - to make it feel like a reality TV series rather than a the touching competition that Masterchef Australia gives.
Interestingly enough a lot of media has not been happy with the US series. The LA Times claims that the contestant's backgrounds from the US version were overly blown up for dramatization purposes, and Agence France-Presse found a few of the scenes of crowds to be edited to be made a lot larger than they actually were, trying to make it feel more important leading to a lot of questions about realism.
While I would not like to join Masterchef US for the fear of being thrown under the bus or sabotaged (or even judged poorly because I am not dramatic nor cut throat), I would love to be a part of the Masterchef Australia experience. The contestants are nice, form close bonds, and have even tried to sacrifice their dreams for other contestants. I could not imagine that from Masterchef US at all.
A Long Story Short
When comparing the US and Australian versions of Masterchef, there is a lot to be desired. To give a comparison with food: it is as if Australia was a high quality, hearty buffet and the US was an over-spiced, sometimes disgusting plate of food that you might eat when you are really hungry but are totally unhappy after the experience is over.