Has MasterChef US jumped the shark?


So, I’ve been keeping up my recapping “duties” over on Squidoo for MasterChef US Season 4, but it’s definitely been more of a chore than a fun task this summer. I haven’t liked the tone of this season from the start, as I feel there has been a nastier, darker, more competitive undercurrent beneath it all than in the past.

Sure, last season we had a few completely unlikable losers, namely Tali and Ryan. But they were such a bumbling pair of misfits it was fun to see them go down – and go down before they could stink up the rest of the show with their presence. There were also competitors you could see grow close and encouraging of each other, sharing joy and sadness and encouraging each other on, like Christine, Stacey and Felix.

When Christine came back to be a guest judge in one of last week’s episodes, it immediately brought a smile to my face to see her again and reminded me how much I missed of the season three atmosphere (even if I’m rather disappointed in her new cookbook they were plugging – more on that in another post). And yet, even with Christine the show seemed to turn ugly and mocking as the Season 4 contestants were “pranked” with blindfolds and the judges were shown mocking their forced blindness. Way to make fun of the differently-abled, and in front of last season’s blind winner, no less.

The show this season is plagued by growing and brewing controversy as well. First, accusations of sexual harassment by production crew and judges started appearing online, in the blog of a Top 100 contestant, Marie Porter. Producers at FOX have denied the claims, but others who were there have spoken up to support Marie’s statements. (We’ll probably never know the full story given confidentiality agreements signed by contestants.)

Then, viewers have been wondering how the show will deal with an upcoming, already-filmed episode featuring Paula Deen – the celebrity chef drowning in bad publicity and losing sponsors left and right following a lawsuit brought against her and her brother for racial and sexual discrimination.

But even if FOX is able to re-edit or somehow work around the Deen fiasco, there’s more bad press brewing as love-her-or-hate-her contestant Krissi Biasiello has been called out by local the Philly press for her own racist “Tweets”. Screencaps in an article by Daily News staff writer Molly Eichel show Krissi making racist (and rape) jokes on her now-deleted Twitter account “krissiloud”. The article was posted on June 27, and it took until July 1 for Krissi to issue what I see as a rather weak fauxpology on her official MasterChef Twitter account:

“I’m very sorry for any offensive posts I’ve made on social media. It was never my intention to hurt or offend anyone and I deeply apologize”

Somehow that doesn’t seem quite good enough, Krissi. Jezebel has picked up the story as well, so it’s looking like things could get increasingly ugly if Krissi is in the competition much longer or doesn’t really step up to issue a more honest and real apology for her behavior.

At this point, the only contestants in Season 4 I really find likable, (apparently) genuine and whom I want to see make it to the end are James and Luca. And I can seriously say I’m quite thankful now I never made it past that casting call for the show in the Fall…this is NOT the kind of show, atmosphere and attitudes I would want to be associated with personally whatsoever.

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