Nicole Paulhus
November 13, 2013 3:00 pm

“Hey, can I heat up my pie in your oven?” It was a simple request. More of a courtesy than anything. The kind of question you don’t ever anticipate someone saying no to. Like, “Can I use your bathroom?” or “Would you like fries with that?” Except, in this case, I did say no. Well, more accurately, I said, “Ummmm… I was heating up a frozen pizza and when I was taking it out, I tried to balance it on two spatulas, but then I burnt my arm and dropped it. It fell through the cracks and landed cheese-side down. So, long-story-short, no you cannot use my oven. It is covered in burnt cheese and sauce and I’m waiting for it to cool down so I can clean it without burning myself.”

Marco reluctantly heated his pie in the microwave and then we sat down to watch the MasterChef Junior season finale. With the frozen pizza disaster fresh in my mind, I was even more nervous than normal while watching the tiny chefs skillfully chop, sear and make pasta from scratch. Thus, here are ten reasons why MasterChef Junior makes me nervous.

1. Kids on TV Stress Me Out

I love kids and I love TV, yet watching kids on TV kinda stresses me out. I can’t help but wonder what the long-term repercussions of their temporary stardom will be. Not to mention the effect this type of intense pressure, spotlight and failure might have on their fragile 8-13 year-old minds. Yet, in this case, the fact that the kids are so young actually takes some of the pressure off. At the end of the three week competition, they all go back to their respective elementary schools. Their success or failure in the competition is not going to make or break their career. It’s just a fun experience. So, I’m choosing to believe that they’re all going to be okay and maybe even get picked on less in their respective elementary schools. Win-win!

2. How Much of This Is Editing?

During one of the episodes, I said to myself re: one of the contestants, “Wow, this girl is a mega-brat!” Then I was like, woah woah… take a step back. There is so much editing involved in reality TV. Stories and characters are created through the tiny amount of footage editors decide to show us. Sure, it appears as though this little girl is mocking her competitors while smugly chomping on gummy bears, but so many of her reaction shots could have been taken out of context. I’d hate to think that all of America is judging the character of a 9-year-old based on some creative editing. To be clear though, this girl was my favorite. Love me some tiny evil genius.

3. I Can’t Tell If They’re Being Coached

When adults sign up for reality shows, they know what they’re getting into, they know that their job is to fill a role and play a part. What about these kids? At one point 12-year-old Dara asks 9-year-old Sarah, “Do you even know what that means?” when Sarah tells her to “finesse”. Sarah sasses back that yes, she does know what “finesse” means, but I wonder… how much of what these kids say in the show is prompted by the judges, producers or their parents?

4. Knives, Stoves, Ovens, Oh My!

The kids on this show are all insanely skilled. They know what they’re doing and they do it well. That doesn’t stop me from worrying when I see them using a deep fryer or yielding a giant knife, though. I watch MasterChef Junior in the same tensed-up mindset as I watch a horror movie, just waiting in fear for one of them to lose a finger or splatter hot grease onto their adorable face. It’s like a really really tame version of The Hunger Games.

5. Is It Wrong To Force My Kids Into Cooking Classes?

The winner of this season (SPOILER ALERT), Alexander, claims that he prepares dinner for his family six nights a week. How great it must be to be Alexander’s parents. Get home from a long day of work, kick off your shoes and sit down to a five-star-restaurant quality Beef Wellington prepared by your middle schooler. There’s a fine line between treating your child like a servant and encouraging them to explore a new hobby, but I am 100% enrolling my children in cooking classes after seeing the amazing meals these kids are capable of preparing. And thus, an entirely new brand of stage/soccer/tiger mom was born.

6. Crap, What If My Kid’s a Crappy Chef?

What if I enroll my kid in cooking classes and he/she is really passionate about it but just super untalented? Then I’ll be forced to eat potentially disgusting meals six nights a week. I’m not good at disguising my emotions. This could be very problematic.

7. I’m Desperate for More Kid Versions of Reality Shows

I don’t watch a lot of reality TV, mainly because I don’t have cable and there is so much scripted TV to watch between network, cable, premium cable, Netflix and Amazon. However, MasterChef Junior got me and it got me good. If they start making junior versions of other reality shows, I will watch. I was one of the few loyal viewers of the junior version of American Idol (I see you Lucy Hale) and I watched every episode of Kid Nation (even though it made me massively uncomfortable).  My fear is that I already watch too much TV, I can’t add 10 child reality competition shows to the schedule. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing, even if that good thing is 10-year-olds being cute and scheming to win a trophy (let’s be real, the kids didn’t give a crap about the cash).

8. What If They Make Bad Kid Versions of Reality Shows?

Executives all over Hollywood are probably in meetings right now discussing the success of MasterChef Junior and attempting to adapt their reality franchise into a junior version. Some of these could be wonderful. I would watch the crap out of Project Runway Junior. However, what happens when Tyra Banks gets her hands on some insecure tweens, cuts off all their hair and shoves them down a runway in America’s Next Top Model Junior? I cringe. Speaking of reality shows destroying childhoods…

9. Has Anyone Checked In On Jon & Kate’s Plus 8 Lately?

Has anyone checked in with the Plus 8 lately? If so, how’s Alexis doing? She was my favorite. Colin too. And Hannah. Gosh those kids were all adorable. It’s a real bummer that stardom destroyed their family.

10. I Ate That Pizza

After I removed the dropped pizza from the bottom of the oven and scraped the destroyed parts off the top, I threw some shredded mozzarella on there, tossed it in the microwave and I ate it. While watching 12 and 13-year-olds make potato gnocchi, veal chop and “deconstructed” canoli, the fact that I, an adult, ate a pizza scraped off the bottom of my oven makes me more nervous than anything.

All episodes of MasterChef Junior are now streaming on Hulu. You’re welcome.

Feature image via BuddyTV.

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