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MKR’s beige finale

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Tuesday night’s MKR final was episode 48 of a My Kitchen Rules 2014 marathon that stretched back to Australia Day.

That’s two more episodes than last season, and well more than 2012 (37 eps), 2011 (33 eps) or 2010’s first season which featured a paltry 16 eps in an era before the show discovered the real magic of home restaurants and manufactured drama.

So if it felt like MKR was bigger and better than ever this year, it was, as long as you are happy with that phrase being a euphemism for ‘longer’ and ‘bitchier’.

Just not bitchier in, you know, an interesting or real way. Come the last night, the supposed rivalry between the teams was forgotten because it was so transparently manufactured by the producers in the first place.

Instead, the MKR Grand Final was two hours and 20 minutes (officially) of cooking. Good cooking. But beige television. A pasta panic here. A bone in a trout there. But essentially was a five course cook off with so little interest that Uel’s pigeon squabble joke was a highlight.

The MKR Grand Final was two hours and 20 minutes (officially) of cooking. Good cooking. But beige television.

The cooking battle lacked battle. The teams weren’t facing off, they were back to back with a wall between them, and for all their interaction they may as well have been in different states.

Perhaps they should have been. Cooking in their home states. Home kitchens. Home restaurants. But no.

My Kitchen Rules has one masterful concept that makes it the rightful claimant to the Most Popular Reality Program Logie that it won on Sunday. It has the single best ‘audition’ rounds of any reality show in the world.

The genuinely brilliant device that is the home restaurant rounds provide the perfect blend of backstory and Cinderella-esque before-shots that singing show chair turns and building odyssey before-shots dream of delivering.

The problem has always begun once the teams run away from home to arrive at the mystical MKR Headquarters. It sounds like the base of operations for an evil organisation plotting world domination, and in many ways is, except far less interesting. Maybe they need laser sharks?

Last year MKR tried a surreal restaurant reincarnation round to change things up. This year they souped-up (geddit?) the food truck concept to food semi-trailer and served Australia some television road kill. It turns out that My Kitchen Rules kind of suffers once it is removed from the titular “my” kitchens.

Then lightning struck twice. MKR went back to the homes. For the quarterfinals, five teams engaged in the “ultimate” home restaurant round. It had just enough of a twist to be different – two choices for each course on the menu – and it worked. Those five home finals were tense, fraught and full of mistakes. This was the drama – manufactured or real – that we loved.

Then they went back to MKR Headquarters. Still no laser sharks. Just cook-offs with suspiciously close results. The semi-finals were three courses of relentlessly efficient cooking, in quiet rooms, aside from a little social media hater-feeding banter. Bullying it wasn’t.

Interesting it wasn’t.

Come the grand final, Pete and Manu’s pronouncement that the teams would serve up five courses felt like a life sentence. Was Manu’s purple velveteen jacket to be the most interesting thing we saw all night? Certainly it seemed, compared to the finalists.

Well-travelled (and occasionally ridiculed) friend Chloe and Kelly.
Well-travelled (and occasionally ridiculed) friend Chloe and Kelly.

Chloe and Kelly were wearing black aprons just in case you didn’t get that they are VILLAINS. We know this because while they started the season making clunkingly awkward boasts about their travels, after some tutelage they learned to parrot bitchy commentary just like Ashlee & Sophia (a.k.a. 2013’s Spice Girls) the pair that the producers so hoped they would take after. Unfortunately their ability to snipe on demand meant they were asked to do it so often that the effect was diluted to the point of insincerity.


So how did we get such a characterless final? The initial casting was great. This show gets the foundations right. Yet the finalists were so very uninspiring.

And confusion. One media outlet actually suggested the final had been rigged to ensure the Western Australian pair faced their rivals. Except their notional rivals were actually Helena and Vikki. Oops!

Which brings us to Bree and Jessica, mums most notable for being mums and having “the biggest MKR meltdown ever” (TM) on board the MKR food truck and for Bree calling her partner Jessee, pronounced in such a way as to rhyme with her own name. They succeeded as much by failing to stand out as by cooking.

So how did we get such a characterless final? The initial casting was great. This show gets the foundations right. Yet the finalists were so very uninspiring. Aside from their cooking, which was impressive, but since when has MKR been about cooking?

In fact when all the other contestants came back in the room it reminded us of the characters we’d lost.

Carly Saunders (left) and Tresne Middleton.
Carly Saunders (left) and Tresne Middleton.

Carly and Tresne were blonde and bubbly and then when they were due to leave were also gay and proud.

Josh and Danielle were Heston-wannabes who became  incredibly conformist right up until they too were due to leave when they were suddenly gastronom and proud.

Deb (alongside Rick) was naughty nanna and Uel and Shannelle were cute as a button, while Harry and Christo were comfortably daggy mates. David and Corinne were there because the Edelstens weren’t available and because they had a bold-as-brass form of bitchiness that kind of worked.

Helena and Vikki were the twinning twins who share a brain, which was cute (until they twost) and Thalia and Bianca were the precociously talented Tasmanians who cracked under the pressure of carrying dishes down a flight of stairs.

All were more interesting than our finalists. Only Paul and Blair the ruthlessly efficient teachers, could have competed with the beige on offer in episode 48.

The final itself featured impressive cooking but the drama was woefully underdone.

“You both created five courses of spectacular food” pronounced Pete as he summed up the night. “Tonight there was no talk, it was all action” claimed Manu. They were right, but unlike the food, the final lacked spectacle, or action, or drama.

In ratings and advertising dollars, Seven will score higher even than the mammoth 52 out of 60 that Chloe and Kelly claimed or even the 54 out of 60 that Bree and Jessica needed to claim the title. But they will know the final failed to live up to the competition.

The champions said it was the most amazing thing that had happened to them in their lives.

Sadly the final wasn’t even the most amazing episode of the season.