I am far from a reality TV junkie, yet am completely addicted to the current series of My Kitchen Rules. What's more, MKR is the first reality TV show that I have ever watched along with my kids, who are aged 9 and 12.
The series, set to culminate in the Grand Final this Sunday night, has been marred by controversy. One team was asked to leave the show after insults and threats flew across the dining table. This incident (and the nastiness that led up to it) reinforced my view that reality TV stars do not make good role models.
To my surprise, there are not one, but two, MKR teams that full of qualities that I would be happy to have my kids aspire to.
Stella and Jazzey are 21 year old waitresses from WA who were eliminated from the MKR competition last night after having made it all the way to the semi-finals. I would be very happy if my kids in any way resembled them in 10 years' time.
They are an ideal example of what 21 year olds can be like – including learning recipes from YouTube! They are ambitious but not at the expense of their friendship or their mental health. Unlike myself at their age, they are unfussed by not knowing everything. Even as they reached the semi-final , they felt no need to put on pretentions, being happy to admit that, on their waitress wages, they have limited experience with cooking high-end ingredients.
They are confident in their abilities and happy to wing it when faced with a challenge. (I don't know whether they coined the term 'urban cooking' but they used it with pizzazz when describing their ability to make dishes up as they went along).
Even when watching the show from the comfort of a couch, it is clear that MKR is no walk in the park. Stella and Jazzey are not afraid of hard work but know how to have fun while getting it done. They made light of impending disasters, laughed at themselves when needed and enjoyed the thrill of getting so far though the competition (including Stella's clear fangirl moment in meeting judge Manu).
Even when things got stressful (and it did for the friends on several occasions, including last night's semi-final dessert disaster when their ice-cream didn't set), they opt for positivity and teamwork. Jazzey praised Stella's last minute improvisation and there was no hint of blame or disharmony. Instead of bemoaning their elimination, they said: "Like, if this was the Olympics, we'd get bronze medals." That's the sort of resilience I want my kids to have, right there.
While other teams were tearing into each other or collapsing under the stress of that every-present count-down clock, Stella and Jazzey supported each other to get the job done.
Their friendship is obviously strong. They say they met in Year 7 and have never argued in the kitchen. I hope my kids find that sort of friendship during their teenage years.
The other MKR team I hope my kids are inspired by are Henry and Anna, who have one of the best sibling relationships around. Talking with their local Tassie paper after being eliminated prior to the semi-finals, Anna says: "We both went in with the head space that if anything did go wrong between us that we would walk away because our relationship is more important than a cooking show."
As a parent of kids who often wouldn't give each other the time of day, let along that kind of respect, I confess to pointing out this bond several times over the nights we have been glued to the TV watching MKR!