As someone who doesn’t watch a terrible amount of free-to-air TV, I must have missed the boat on the latest obsession with reality TV. We have always had some form of entertainment about ‘real’ life, Survivor, The Block, Australian Idol, The 7pm Project and the list goes on. Yet something seems evidently different with the latest phenomenon of My Kitchen Rules.
Reality TV and cooking shows have been around for years, yet MKR has found a specific taste (excuse the pun) or element that immediately encapsulates your attention and draws you in. You invest yourself as you watch these people race against the clock and turn against each other, religiously watch and follow the series every night it’s on. 7 Network hit a goldmine with something as simple as a cooking show that generates widespread discussion in the public spheres.
The show has its own hashtag and live twitter feed, Facebook page, magazines with the recipes from the show, it is watched by millions across the country. So why are we all so obsessed with this show? With reality shows? What makes it so worthy of discussions across twitter, Facebook, and even day to day conversation? Is it the superficiality, like tabloids? Something to keep us entertained, ‘mush brain’ TV? Or is it because we can relate to this slightly warped sense of reality? They cook on the show, we cook in our homes! Making the ordinary entertainment worthy, to make us feel like our lives can be like theirs, if we buy what they show/cook our cooking too, can be “to die for” (in a french accent)
But where do we draw the line on reality as entertainment? The promo for next week’s episode showed one contestant cracking under the pressure in their ‘instant restaurant’ competition, clearly distraught and upset. Is this an invasion of privacy? To showcase extremely private moments for our entertainment? The intense scrutiny these contestants are under clearly is damaging to these people, and all so we can have a good show. Do they push these people too far?
Watching the show with my family, my father noticed on one of their mad dash to buy ingredients, they were driving without wearing seat-belts. Whether or not they were actually driving anywhere, or it was simply for filming, portraying these contestants driving recklessly is a careless mistake that affects the shows public image.
From all the discussion’s MKR draws, most is critical, as is the nature of the show. It is so much easier to pick out the negatives and complain than to search for something to praise. “Oh Carlie and Tressnae are such ******’s” or “Kelly and Chloe are such smart mouths”. On the show they portray these people in a certain way, thanks to editing and whatnot, which generates these discussions and fury within us. It provokes us, and invites us to hate them, but at the same time they could make us like them and root for them. Both generate discussion, and thus generate viewers. Any press is good press right? MKR is TV shows that recognizes the importance of social media and the public sphere’s generation of interest in gaining viewers, and is succeeded in doing so.