chapter  8
25 Pages

Authentic reality TV

The case of MasterChef
WithAnnette Hill

This chapter analyses audience engagement with a specific kind of reality food talent format: MasterChef. It discusses the talent show that uses the inter-generic space of reality television to balance the construction of entertainment, in this case a talent competition set in a televised studio, with the real world spaces of amateurs and professionals within the world of creative labour. The empirical research on production and audience practices for MasterChef offers an alternative perspective to the criticisms of the affective labour of participants and audiences of talent shows, and the overtly critical reception of food talent formats. The chapter focuses on audiences in order to explore the mediated authenticity in a food talent show. The research shows how food talent formats can have a go-anywhere quality and create a sense of locality and regional specificity for authentic food cultures.