My sordid 7:30pm affair

By Divya Balakumar

The waterworks are about to begin. The small one reiterates what is at stake, gesticulating like a rapper: ‘On the back of this, one of you will go home’—this one mostly states the obvious.

The large one stares down, eyeing each one of the 12 hopefuls as if he was choosing his dinner. His fingers playfully caress a non-existent beard—they rest on a shiny, mismatched fabric that suffocates his neck; the purpose of this accessory is unknown.

The 12 hopefuls display different facial expressions. Smugs, the one with eyebrows for a moustache, looks smug (as ever). The Blonde One we forgot was even here looks worried—is her weird, ‘super food’ concoction enough to keep her in the running? Is there enough kalequinoachiablabla? Bobcat Dude looks frazzled and, on cue, with a different backdrop, he announces to us: ‘I could be going home tonight’. The prospect is a relief, to me, because I hate his stupid ponytail. Where are men getting style advice from, these days?!

An explosion occurs on my TV screen, followed by unrelated visuals of Halle Berry being pregnant with an alien child. We also learn that the small one consumes multivitamins and loves ‘a good Pinot’. Fantastic.

The brief was simple.

‘Put yourself on a plate,’ they said. (But, that could be pretty gross and/or dangerous!)

‘We want you to RESPECT THE PRODUCE,’ they plead. (Would a ‘salute’ gesture suffice?)

‘Make it the HERO of the dish,’ they yelled. (Okay, guys, start thinking of a theme song for LobsterMan, quick!)

The medium one is clapping his hands and pointing to the 12 hopefuls. Cut to the giant clock; it looks like time is running out. ‘We

want a CRACKING dish,’ he demands, and then threatens that their FOOD DREAM could end here.

First up to the tasting table is Smugs.

‘I gave up studying finance to be here,’ says the smug one. ‘I’ve given it 110% today,’ he adds. Perhaps finance wasn’t the right choice, Smugs.

The large one teases Smugs; he puts a morsel in his mouth and reveals to us the poker face he’s been working on since 2009. He inspects Smugs closely from afar. ‘Do you think you’ve done enough to keep you safe?’

The Blonde One proceeds to the tasting table, but the small one shatters her confidence. ‘The elements don’t work together.’ The medium one has a mildly disgusted expression, but

The Blonde One is too pretty so he tries to be nicer. ‘What would it mean if you went home tonight?’ (All three are trained psychologists too, apparently.) Tears, a few tiny sobs, and a montage of her life outside the kitchen later, and we learn that The Blonde One gave something up… I don’t know, it was boring and the music was too slow so I stopped paying attention.

Happy music ensues, so I guess that means Bobcat Dude is safe?

‘If I call your name, please step forward.’

‘The Blonde One, your kalequinoachiablabla was undercooked, and that’s why you’re going home tonight.’

Tears. Big talk of ‘continuing my journey’. Hugs. More hugs. Shit’s getting awkward.

‘It’s time to leave the kitchen.’

Four seasons later, I still don’t know why I watch this show.

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