Maybe you aren't a reality show person. I'm not either, at all, which I think speak volumes of the entertainment value of MasterChef. I cannot stop watching this show.
In short, it's a roundup of 20 or so amateur cooks who have to complete various challenges and win the approval of a three-judge panel led by Gordon Ramsay. It deals we, the viewers, the following, and in spades:
- People cooking delicious food.
- People failing miserably and being completely humiliated.
- People crying.
- Flippant, dismissive asshole judges.
- PEOPLE CRYING ALL THE TIME.
- PEOPLE CRYING ALL OF THE TIME.
Seriously. I would guess that each hour-long episode features an average of least seven or eight instances of people crying, and that's a conservative estimate.
God I love this show. Season Three is currently airing on Fox. It's also on Hulu, if that's your thing. You should probably watch it. What follows is a list of my 15 favorite moments, complete with video, of the only reality show I've ever really cared about. Hope you enjoy!
(A note before we proceed: I've divided this list into three pages you'll need to click through. Sorry. Embedding 15 videos on a single page just turned out to be a bit much.)
15. FUNERAL POTATAHS!
As I said, I'm not a reality show enthusiast, but I'm peripherally aware of enough William Hung-ish characters to know that producers love throwing absolute ringers into the audition phases of the competition. And I mean, if you show up to American Idol in a wizard's hat and cape and shit, I don't feel bad for you because I know you're in on it.
This dude, though.
"heh! they're sure gonna love m'funeral potatahs! got m'casserole dish, m'piggy plate, got m'overalls buttoned up tight, th' whole nine yards! heh! shoot! sure hope they like m'funeral potatahs on account o' i made 'em just for them! h'ohhh boy!"
Holy shit. Cheddar cheese, mayonnaise and sour cream, baked in an oven. And, like, he's got a story behind it about family traditions and people dying and everything. MasterChef's producers are very good at their jobs, and they are also total assholes, which I guess sort of goes hand in hand. If they were not total assholes, one of them would have pulled him aside and said, "yeah, listen guy, that dish is something a pregnant woman in Wisconsin would crave for 3.5 seconds before realizing how awful it is, you probably shouldn't serve that to Gordon Ramsey on television." But nope, they let him go up there, and months and miles removed from the scene, I can still hear their snickering. "Haaaaaa look at that dumbass. You know I told him to wear those fuckin' overalls? Goddamn bumpkin. Ah ha ha ha ha. Alright, I'm gonna call the Santa Monica office, see if they got a widowed Marine with a cleft palate or something."
Also: the 0:33 mark is your introduction to Joe Bastianich, who is the greatest judge in the history of reality television. His game is "calmly and matter-of-factly making it known that he hates you and wishes you were dead," and there is no one better at it than him.
14. THE WORST DISH IN THE HISTORY OF THE SHOW.
So basically, once the audition phase ends, we get into the meat of the show, in which 20 or so amateurs dork around in the MasterChef kitchen for 15 episodes or so until the judges finally decide that one of them is less profoundly awful than the others. They have to cook something within a given theme and with limited ingredients in a short timeframe.
It isn't rare, then, to see one of them just totally shit the bed. They'll bake an apple pie without a bottom crust, or accidentally put raw meat on a plate, or something. This, about halfway through the second season, is one of those times.
Erryn was given $500 worth of truffle to work with, but his plan totally went to shit, and here we see him walking up to Gordon with a plate of burned steak and the plastic molded vegetables you get with the Fisher-Price kitchen. It's the worst dish in MasterChef history to date. This show is full of spectacular failures, but in every other case they're sins of excessive ambition, or misguided ideas, or something.
But this is just, "I have fucked up horribly and have to at least put food things on this plate because the alternative is saying, 'SORRY CHEF NO FOOD LOLZ,' and race-walking to the nearest exit.." Erryn knows this. This is 35 seconds of, "welp."
At the end of this episode, the judges did something they had never done before. Gordon basically said, "look, you know who you are, just admit your dish was the shittiest and leave." Erryn did, and then he was gone. Watching him in this episode was like watching a pitcher bat, in that it was like watching me out there. These moments are indispensable.
13. THE MOST ANNOYING PERSON IN THE ENTIRE WORLD.
My relationship with cheerfulness is sort of tricky. On a scale of 1 to 10, I'm probably like a 7, or a 4 on a shitty day. I prefer to hang out with people who register somewhere between 6 and 9 on the cheerfulness scale. In fact, sometimes a 9 is awesome to be around.
But if the needle nudges just a little bit north of there -- like, 9.1, 9.2, etc. -- I start getting wary. And past that, my tolerance of this person just totally goes off a cliff. 9.2? You're all right. 9.5? I have got to get away from you because I just can't deal with you.
This gentleman is a 10 on the cheerfulness scale. Like, even watching him for 30 seconds on television made me hate him. Unfortunately for me, he also exhibits the dreadful combination of a) radiant and b) unfunny. So not only are you doing the "inanimate objects are boobies" thing, you're doing it with eggplants in a kitchen full of things that are round? Heh!
By the time he delivers the "like a fat kid wants cake" line with the degree of zeal and confidence that suggests that he doesn't know or care that like every spazzy Cartoon Network show has been spitting it for over a decade, I want him to fail. So badly, and from such an irrational place. I want him to trudge, head hung low, through a cavernous, dimly-lit corridor while someone mournfully plucks a guitar.
And that is exactly what I got! I love you, MasterChef.
12. DAVID'S LISTERINE FACE.
I promised you plenty of crying, so here is some crying.
This is actually a clip from the short-lived reality series, "Searching For America's Next Mouthwash Vizier," in which contestants were judged by how ably they could gargle with Listerine. David eventually won after defeating such competitors as Cindy, who kept fucking up and swallowing it, and Harold, who wedged the top of the bottle into his middle ear and kept smacking the other end with the base of his palm until producers intervened and told him to stop. "You are not the next Mouthwash Vizier," said Gordon Ramsey. "You aren't even a Mouthwash Vassal. Please remove your spittle bib and leave the Mouthwash Fiefdom."
11. FRUIT SHOT!
So MasterChef decides to drag these folks, most of whom have convincingly demonstrated that they should never ever be placed in a meaningful position of culinary authority, to a high-falootin' dinner party, where they are to impress the bourgeoisie with a fancy dessert.
To no one's surprise, they end up with the lowest-falootin' dessert ever. Like, almost zero faloots involved here.
It's basically just a Reese's cup full of random cut-up fruit. Now, if you've seen any of Hell's Kitchen, you know how pissed off Gordon Ramsey can get. That's how he first staked his claim on American television: by screaming at cooks until they got rattled and made further mistakes so that he could scream at them some more.
This is a different Gordon Ramsey, though. He says here that this is the worst thing that's ever left any of his kitchens, ever, and yet he doesn't even come close to DEFCON-1. He doesn't even say "fucking," he says, "freaking." I get the feeling that after episode upon episode of profound MasterChef ineptitude has just worn him down.
Or maybe it's just this country and all our shitty food. Our cold floppy bologna that swims in its own saline solution in the plastic blister pack, harboring the shackled souls, not of one dead animal, but rather the disassociated fractions of a dozen ghosts. Our mayonnaise, which we can't refrain from glopping all over every damn thing. The cream cheese in our sushi. The millions of pounds of gray, shapeless ground beef we devour without seasoning it first. America is a living, wheezing nightmare of food, and this is no place for a man like Gordon. You can hear it in the tortured strain of his voice, even if it's blanketed in a tone of common disappointment: he needs to go home.