Making It Australia
10's brand new craft show may just be the perfect antidote to lockdown blues.
I was in the room in 2008 when then-Programming boss David Mott told media that 10 was putting a cooking show onto primetime TV and ditching Big Brother.
Had TV lost the plot?
But I happily ate my words when MasterChef Australia became a big fat hit. Since then television has put forward all kinds of daft reality contests… from dating to glass-blowing to pottery and building with Lego.
So why not a craft-based show?
Enter Making It Australia, a format produced & hosted in the US by Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman.
You know the drill: make something amazing in timed challenges, try not to get eliminated before the other guy and you might win $100,000 at the end. Throw in some cheeky hosts -Susie Youssef and Harley Breen- some supportive judges, colour, movement and diverse contestants. Hey presto, we have a show.
What’s the end point, I have no idea…?
And yet it works so well that it may just be a lockdown antidote. If MasterChef taught Australians about plating up and sent kids into the kitchen, Making It may well do the same for crafting.
The setting is an inviting rural barn, reminiscent of The Great Australian Bake-Off‘s shed in which our ‘makers’ enter, full of wonderment. There are 13 of them skilled in various disciplines: sculpting, metalwork, props, costume, party planning, animation, architecture and more. As Plumber Dan tells us, “Making & creating is my way to feel special, my way to feel different… some people are fantastic at running. I’m gifted with being amazing at making and creating.”
The format entails two challenges: a Faster Craft followed by a Master Craft. “Patches” are given out to challenge winners, although I’m unclear of their purpose or value aside from reminding me of being a boy cub.
In the premiere the “Faster” craft is actually a 3 hour challenge in which each must build their Secret Beast. There are colourful pandas, octopus, wolves, drop bears and even a disco themed bat. I think.
The contestants are, like Lego Masters, loveable geeks who vary in their ages, ethnicity and sexuality. Inclusivity is matched by optimism, with contestants often seen to be helping one another despite being competitors. Whether working with wood, metal, paper, glitter or clay, there’s almost something for everybody here.
Judges Deborah Riley & Benja Harney accentuate the positive, finding something nice to say even when a design is a little under-done. Yes there’s a clock, hokily with a ticking screwdriver, to add jeopardy before someone is predictably eliminated by episode’s end.
But hosts Susie Youssef and Harley Breen are a breath of fresh air as a hosting duo, reminding us they are pretty dodgy at their own craft skills, peppered with bad puns. It just may be enough to make you pick up a hammer, paint brush or Bedazzler (don’t pretend you don’t remember).
I don’t always feel the need to watch a Lego model in progress (or for that matter a panna cotta) so much as sitting back and enjoying Lisa Simpson’s completed diorama or Peter Brady’s working volcano (again, don’t pretend you don’t remember) -but I accept that there are plenty who surely do.
Making It Australia is made just for them.
Making It Australia airs 7:30pm Wednesday & Thursday on 10.