A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know MasterChef Junior is a family friendly cooking competition featuring contestants age 8 to 13. Contestants are under stress and pressure, asked to cook under time constraints for judges. One is eliminated on each show; viewers will watch kids react and even cry. The young cooks are working with knives and hot food, so there's a possibility for injury. Drama is amped up with music, camera cuts, and strategic pauses. For the most part, judges are gentle with criticism, always praising contestants' efforts and talents while pointing out deficits in their dishes. Contestants likewise treat judges with deference and respect. Very young viewers may find watching other kids compete stressful; older ones are likely to be inspired to pick up a knife and a spatula themselves.
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What's the story?
Kids invade the kitchen in MASTERCHEF JUNIOR, a pint-size version of the MasterChef amateur reality cooking competition. Kids age 8 to 13 are given ingredients, instructions, and time constraints and must produce dishes that are tasted by host Gordon Ramsay and his chef cohorts, Joe Bastianich and Graham Elliott. On each episode, kids cook together in the vast MasterChef kitchen as the judges (and sometimes their parents) watch; judges then taste each dish and offer the cook feedback. On each show, contestants are eliminated until the last one standing wins the MasterChef Junior trophy.
Is it any good?
If nothing else, this series will make kids watching believe they can cook, too -- and may inspire them to get in the kitchen and give it a shot. Since Gordon Ramsay is known more for his expletive-laden tirades than for gentle mentoring, it's likely that everyone who turns on MasterChef Junior will be tensed up waiting for him to let loose on some poor 9-year-old who left out the salt. Fear not: Ramsay, Bastianich, and Elliott have dialed back the harshness they occasionally show on MasterChef. Contestants are always praised for their efforts and for their talent, even if the dishes are failures, and criticism is restricted to gently noting problems with a dish.
A kid is eliminated on each show, and it can be hard to watch their childlike, genuine reactions. Some burst into tears, and others run into their mothers' arms. Parents and kids alike may find this painful to watch. The most enjoyable moments of MasterChef Junior are less fraught: the smile on a young face when his macaroons are praised, the joy a 10-year-old displays when Ramsay says he could serve a dish in his restaurant, the impressive competence displayed by chefs who can barely reach the top shelves of the pantry.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how one gets to be a "master" at anything. What makes a "master" cook? Time? Talent? Experience? Practice?
Does it make you upset to see contestants eliminated? Do you think eliminated contestants should get a prize for competing?
On MasterChef Junior, contestants are competing for a trophy. Would you like to have this trophy? Why or why not? If no, what would you rather have for a prize?
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