Out of the Kitchen

MasterChef Australia is a reality television phenomenon. Yet reality TV shows spread Zizek-like fantasies of life-changing success in what are really winner-takes-all markets: the losers are discarded and quickly forgotten. Australian Story‘s episode ‘Out of the Kitchen‘ chronicles the rise-fall-recovery of contestant Jules Allen who endured competition, high-pressure, isolation, small group conflict; and the psychological reintegration into everyday life. For Age entertainment reporter Michael Lallo, there are cautionary lessons about signing contracts, goal-setting traps, and survivorship and self-selection biases. Allen subsequently discovered purpose through work with Hagar International which does after-agency care in Cambodia, Afghanistan, and Vietnam. Allen’s journey is a metaphor for broader social changes underway in Australia.