It’s chilli con carnage on MKR.
It’s chilli con carnage on MKR. Channel 7

MKR recap: The secret ingredients to longevity and success

UNLIKE recap writers and industrial refrigerators, it's hard for TV producers to keep things fresh.

Nineteen episodes into a series in which you've already had arguments, sexism, belly-dancing, pashing, crying, and deep-fried brains, there's not a whole lot more you can do to make things interesting.

But if, like me, you've watched 18,000 episodes of reality television, you know there are some sure-fire ingredients that add flavour to the drama curry, and Wednesday night's episode is a perfect example of that.

Get A Dead Relative In On The Action

With the exception of skill, talent and charisma, few things help a contestant in a telly competition last through the early rounds like the mention of a loved one that has, shall we say, stepped out of the kitchen.

For Courtney and Valerie, that's Poppy, Valerie's father. In case you missed it because you were encased in lead and buried underground, there's a book full of Poppy's curry recipes and a photo of him on the kitchen wall.

This is his treasured lyrics to Achy Breaky Heart.
This is his treasured lyrics to Achy Breaky Heart. Channel 7

Barely a minute goes by without somebody mentioning Poppy, and his book pays off with both judges scoring 10 out of 10 for Courtney and Valerie's goat curry main.

It's easy to get a perfect score when your main ingredients are love, chillies, and a paternal ghost from the spectral realm.

Be Heaps Cultural

To a vaguely Indian-themed production music soundtrack, Valerie and Courtney perfectly embody the essence of contemporary India with their food, family closeness and gorgeous decorations.

It's fair to say that their guests, however, struggle a bit with the whole southern Asian cultural thing.

Namast-haaaayyyyy.
Namast-haaaayyyyy. Channel 7

Granted, this is the first opportunity I've had to see a pale scruffy Irishman say "Namaste" with his hands in pranamasana, but while waiting for entrée in the dining room, the other guests' Bollywood dancing lessons stray a teeny bit from the Balti dish of authenticity.

Referring to the hand gestures in Bollywood dancing, Chris asks: "Is that where you screw the lightbulb and pat the dog?" I don't know a lot about Bollywood dancing, but I do know it's really, really important that you don't mix those two things up.

"I don't know how to pat dogs," comments Mell, surprising nobody.

I think that’s how you check if they’re pregnant.
I think that’s how you check if they’re pregnant. Channel 7

Turn Up The Heat

Normally in reality TV, "turn up the heat" refers to manufacturing some sexual tension between people who have otherwise little to offer, but in this episode it means chillies. Lots of chillies. Great heaping fistfuls of the spicy little bastards.

It’s what Poppy would have wanted.
It’s what Poppy would have wanted. Channel 7

A few mild ones go in the garlic chilli prawn entrée, with the rest of the temperate zone's annual chilli harvest going into the main course. The recipe is simple: chop thirty-five kilos of chilli, stir, and simmer gently until this face appears:

Hmmmm, needs more ambulance.
Hmmmm, needs more ambulance. Channel 7

Have Someone Say They're Not Here To Make Friends

Ah, it's finally here. Eventually in every single reality TV competition, someone will remind people that they're not here to make friends, and today that person is Mell.

"We're not friends", she says, in case anyone is under the impression that friends sit at a dinner table and snarl whenever anyone speaks.

"I know you think I'm a bitch" she adds, showing that she's much better at reading a crowd than a menu.

It's probably up to someone with youthful, flexible features to react on our behalf at this point. Take it away, Demi.

There’s no disdain like pre-Botox disdain.
There’s no disdain like pre-Botox disdain. Channel 7

Get A Favourite To Fail

When you have appealing, charismatic, talented, beautiful people like Courtney and Valerie in your televised skills competition, you can't just have them gliding through every challenge like a hot marble through butter. You need jeopardy. You need drama. You need a sloppy liquid dessert with little bits of carrot in it.

Without failure, our favourites have no opportunity to rise, phoenix-like, from the flames of insufficient cooking time to the greater heights of possible semi-final citizenship. They cannot shimmy into our hearts without showing that they can overcome a hot cup of carrot-lump tea. They may stumble. They may fall. But they shall live to ogle Colin and Darren again.

Long may they ogle.

Jo Thornely is a writer who loves it when you explain her jokes back to her on Twitter. Follow her @JoThornely

How the numbers stack up.
How the numbers stack up. Channel 7
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