10 Reasons to Watch The Great British Baking Show (No, Seriously)
Reality TV is the museum of social decay. Gary Oldman
Reality TV is the perfect antidote to people who don't have enough self-centered douchebags in their life.
Ever since the creation of HBO 1983 broadcast of An American Family Revisited: The Louds, reality television has been on television. This broadcast was actually the inspiration for The Real World, a series about college/post-college adults that continuously make horrible decisions and fight with each other. It is true that we have been absolutely obsessed with the concept known as reality TV.
In 2018/2019 alone there are over 50 reality television show debuts. This includes "staple" shows like The Voice, Survivor, Shark Tank, Dancing with the Stars, Hell's Kitchen, as well as new niche reality television shows like My Cat from Hell, Married to Medicine, Ashlee+Evan, and Dopesick Nation. I don't think it's necessary to say, but we are absolutely drowning in borderline-sociopathic, "me-focused," ego-driven television. It's hard to turn on the hundreds of channels these days and watch anything decent, certainly anything reality-based that's decent. We've all heard the question, "You have hundreds of channels and you cannot find anything interesting on?"
No. I cannot.
So, just like many others in 2018, I traipsed over to Netflix in order to find a little entertainment. Behold, The Great British Baking Show (Bake Off). From here on out, I'll write it as GBBO. At first glance, it looks a lot like any other baking/competition reality show, but it is so much more.
Debuting on August 7, 2010, GBBO grew in popularity around series 4 when it made it's way over to the BBC One channel. The show has become a cornerstone of British television as it encapsulates the British baking culture while pulling contestants from all over Great Britain, Ireland, Scotland, and more. Multiple cultures are represented and it truly is a nail biter down to the final showstopper each series.
Here are 10 reasons why I love The Great British Baking Show, and why you should too:
1. It is the most wholesome reality TV show you will ever tune in to.
In contrast to many of the American shows you will see, this show is as wholesome as it gets. If you have kids that are even remotely interested in baking, or in seeing something through from start to finish, this is a great show to have them watch. Even my toddler seems to enjoy the pace of the show (I caused my own problem now that he knows "cupcake" and "cookie" as words). There is an air of friendly competition, the language is G-rated, and it's truly a beautiful process to watch the competitors work.
2. It is still one of the most suggestive shows out there.
Despite it being family-friendly and clean, the puns are crazy and suggestive. The hosts, Sue and Mel (I will talk about them a little bit later) are absolutely full of hysterical puns and dad jokes. The delivery is so dry (you could almost say it's British) you will find yourself gut-laughing. Just take a look at a few of these lines:
3. Candidates are supportive of one another.
You read that correctly. These candidates ACTUALLY care and help each other out. In many different episodes you see how much they bond over time, and when something goes wrong the others are willing to lend a hand. Of course, it's still a competition, but I have not heard one bad word said about another competitor. You may be thinking, "That's great J.T. Of course they don't say it to the other's faces, but what about in the separate interviews?" Not even there. It's an upbeat and positive show all the way through.
4. It's beautiful and inspiring.
Quotes like, "My kids are going to be really proud, and my husband is going to be so proud. It's weird because I'm never actually proud of myself, but I'm actually really proud of myself" are laced throughout the competition. They are not scripted. These bakers really have something to be proud of and, if there's anything I've learned from watching a multitude of this show, amateur bakers are harder on themselves than any other profession. When they succeed they are genuinely happy!
5. Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry are international treasures.
The brazen comments of Paul Hollywood, combined with the calm and comforting nature of Mary Berry create a combination of judging that is absolutely second-to-none. The two of them are not only amazing judges, but coach as well. Paul has a steely blue-eyed stare that truly makes you shudder, but it's all in good fun. Mary brings a flare to the competition unlike anyone else. They balance each other out, they do not quibble, and they judge from a strictly objective viewpoint. It is amazing to hear what they look for in each bake (challenge), and they let you know about it so you don't feel as though you are in the dark.
6. The hosts, Sue and Mel, are absolutely iconic with a positively punny dispositions.
Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins host the majority of the series. In the series that Netflix produced, Sandi Toksvig and Noel Fielding picked up the roles. Mel and Sue have a gregarious nature and a natural bond that extends from the screen into your living room (or wherever you are watching the show). They bring a banter that is necessary to the heat of competition. They make the competitors laugh and enjoy what they are doing, despite the high level of stress that is inherent in the competition. They are punny, they are light, they are what perfectly rounds out this show. Sandi and Noel bring just the same amount of flare. Is it different, well as with any host change it is, but it's just as perfect!
7. You learn so much about baking.
The show is not simply a show and tell. It's not "Look at all the amazing things I can bake." The lessons you learn during the shows airtime makes you feel more knowledgeable and truly creates a feeling of "I could do this too." You learn about the different facets of baking including chemical reactions, measuring and mixing, different styles of baking, old school versus new school, and so much more. I come out of this show having learned more than any American/Americanized baking show ever taught me. They do not simply show you how to do something, they explain why it is done that way, and you clearly see the results.
8. The oven watching.
At one point during every bake it seems as though all the competitors of GBBO can do nothing but sit and watch their bake in the oven. This creates a tension in the viewer as it's a battle between relaxation and edge-of-your-seat-eagerness to see what happens next. The tension created is welcome in a show like this. Too much running around and your exhausted and cannot watch any more, too little and you are bored. They hit the mark just right. Plus, it's a lot of fun to watch grown men and women sitting on the floor in front of their ovens like kids waiting for the cookies to bake.
9. It's delightfully British.
Yes, there are other lists that say the same thing, but only because it's true! Everything from the weather to the proud heritage showcased in each bake is refreshing and entertaining. I enjoy everything about Great Britain, from the humor to the food, and this show encapsulates it perfectly.
10. The "Soggy Bottom."
As stated before, Mary is extremely polite when it comes to criticism. Of course, as you are probably well-versed, this makes it worse sometimes. One of the biggest criticisms she hands out is that the bake has a "soggy bottom." Any time a pastry crust is involved, you can bet there will be at least one comment about a baker's "soggy bottom." This, to Mary, is the biggest crime of them all and she will let you know about it! It has, just like Paul's handshake, become a staple of the show, even if it's a criticism.
The GBBO is now available on Netflix with subscription. I promise, you will not be disappointed!