The Great British Bake Off Nourishes My Soul
I recently started watching the Great British Bake Off (it’s been rebranded as the Great British Baking Show for American audiences because of … reasons). I’m not British, I rarely bake, but this reality show made me cry. These are some of the reasons I love it.
FYI, this post is not sponsored by PBS, Great Britain, or anyone else. It’s subsidized only by my yearning for kindness and mutual humanity.
Note: I’ve only watched the four seasons on Netflix in the United States. Even if the show changes, I want to document my pure affection for it at this moment.
1. The show doesn’t try to convince you this is an epic, life-changing opportunity.
Maureen’s kids won’t starve if she gets sent home. Fred doesn’t need to win so he can get a kidney transplant (although that’s largely because England has universal healthcare). Unlike so many competition shows, GBBO doesn’t try to artificially raise the stakes. It’s as if every morning the cast and crew gets in a big circle and holds hands and all together they say, “It’s just baking, guys.”
2. Contestants are competitive, not vicious.
There’s always that one guy. You know the one. He’s the guy in your Sunday softball league that’s yelling at an ump just trying to make $12 an hour.
None of GBBO’s contestants are like that. But that’s not to say they don’t care.
There is frustration, there is joy, and there are tears. But there’s no screwing each other over. No one is putting thumbtacks in their neighbor’s fondant.
3. Contestants never fight with the judges.
There are some close calls on GBBO. I mean, if someone bombs the Signature and the Technical Challenges but kicks ass in their Showstopper Challenge, do they beat the guy who was mediocre all weekend? If this was Island of Sexy Drama (a reality show I’m pitching to Fox), eliminated contestants would have to be dragged off the set.
But not once have I heard a grandmother from Liverpool snipe, “My Swiss Roll was way better than Tiana’s. She should be going home!” No, the only times contestants disagree with judges is when they feel sure they should have been the one to go home.
4. The Judges
5. The Hosts
This is Sue (right). She is lord of the dance.
This is Mel (right). She keeps things in the tent totally metal.
Sue and Mel are here to make puns and remind the bakers that it’s all gonna be fine.
7. There’s an element of chaos.
These people are really good at baking. They talk about what eggs do to dough and what temperature jam needs to be and they SIFT THEIR FLOUR for God’s sake.
But sometimes, things just don’t go to plan.
And there’s nothing more relatable than someone looking at the oven and going, “No! Why is it doing that?!”
9. All kinds of Brits compete.
People of all ages and races and backgrounds compete in the Great British Bake Off. They bring their different experiences and ideas and tastes into the tent and turn classic baked goods into something uniquely their own.
I’ll leave you with this GIF of a few of my favs from season three.