Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Masterchef Australia eclipses reality ratings with a good cause

3.7 million viewers tuned in to watch the final episode of Masterchef Australia on the weekend. A record breaking figure of almost one in five Australians.

Even towards the end of the Masterchef season, more people switched on their tellies to see Poh, Julie and Chris take it out instead of watching the Blues finally get it over the Marones.

I'd like to stop and question why this program has eclipsed the first season of Idol in 2004 and achieved the highest ratings for any non-sports broadcast since OzTAMs current television ratings system began in 2001.

Masterchef is no Big Brother, it hardly feeds people's voyeuristic fettishes.
Neither does the show engage viewers at a material level- people aren't lassoed into voting to keep their favourite cooks in the competition.
Nasty judges who try to make viewers laugh at contestant's misfortunes were also strategically absent.

Instead, every night families could sit back and watch a safe, 'family' show with everyday, 'real' people (or at least as real as you can get in reality TV).

We were all anxious when Poh sat in the waiting room while the judges tasted her traditional Malaysian dish and we all cried when Julie achieved her wildest dreams and won the inaugural title.

Good things happened to good people, contestants cried tears of joy- not of sorrow or distaste- and the judges garnered viewer's respect as they each proved to be knowledgeable in their field.

On the whole, Masterchef was a well produced program and I think it is healthy to see such good spirited shows flourish while the not so "nice", 'win at all cost' programs may be seeing their last days out front in the rating race.

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