Making recommendations is a difficult task given that should the person taking your recommendation can ultimately indict you should they not absolutely love what you decided to hang your hat on. Restaurants, movies, books. I play my cards close to my chest for fear of talking something up to the point of no return, which is why I often give very meh answers when it comes to answering the question, “Heard any good music lately?”
There are there are some things you just can’t downplay when you become that infatuated with them. The song ‘Paris’ by The Chainsmokers, being one. And The Great British Baking Show on PBS being the other.
Reality television has a stigma to it. And without sounding overly-pretentious like someone who scoffs at American cinema, I think it’s safe to assume that American reality television is largely more dramatic and overly-edited than that in Britain. Sure, they originated Big Brother but we have Gordon Ramsay screaming at children and millions of people obsessing over
sex dungeons fantasy suites on The Bachelor.
Recently added to Netflix, The Great British Baking Show is the complete opposite of anything you’ve ever seen on American television. When describing it, I like to say that it’s the Xanax of reality-based television shows. It’s like 54 minutes of Easter, but you’re face-to-face with your aunt trying to act like you’re not hungover. Instead, you’re in the comfort of your bed watching master bakers (with my all-time favorites being Martha and Chetna) whipping up creations that will leave you with nothing but cravings.
I pressed play not knowing what to think. A show about baking? Please. The closest I get to baking is heating up a ham-n-cheese Hot Pocket when I’m too hungover to do anything else. And I even manage to mess that up. But when the show’s hosts, Mel and Sue, came on the screen with a calm music laid over shots of the English countryside? Well, I fell in fucking love.
One by one, you begin to learn the nuances of each of the contestants on each of the seasons. Between 12 and 13 bakers enter the tent and slowly widdle themselves down every episode by episode. For every Star Baker (an individual who stood out throughout that week’s episode), there’s one poor soul who gets sent packing with their spatula and apron in hand. By season’s end, three dynamos clash with one prevailing as England’s greatest baker.
The contestants are a happy-go-lucky mixture of optimists who refuse to beat themselves up over a burnt loaf or an undercooked croissant. Even the judges, Paul Hollywood and resident bad bitch Mary Berry, have an air about them that causes their criticisms to come off more as suggestions. With three challenges per episode, the contestants are faced with two choices: show up or ship out.
And despite the beautiful sweeping shots of the countryside and sleepytime soundtrack, the show doesn’t come without drama (or “dram-er,” because English people can’t pronounce their soft As). Thinking about putting large chunks of fruit in your loaf? Paul’s going to question you because he knows they’ll sink to the bottom. Put too much cardamom in your recipe? Mary Berry’s palate is the dopest. Part of your biscotti break off? You might as well tell the judges because they. see. everything.
This show simply doesn’t come without controversy. Season 3? Diana accidentally took Iain’s Baked Alaska out of the refrigerator and ended up getting him eliminated.
The very next episode, she mysteriously “fell ill” and removed herself from the competition. Host Mel got too close to your cake and knocked it over at the last second before the judges could see? Tough nuts. Season 4’s Ruby even denied being on Good Morning Britain because, per her tweet, “piers morgan is a sentient ham and frankly i’d rather die.”
Do yourself a favor. Go find your lost Apple TV remote. Go to Netflix. Take Friends out of your queue and replace it with a show you won’t regret going all-in on – The Great British Baking Show.
Ready. Set. Bake. .
Image via YouTube