I’m truly not kidding when I say that there are two things in my life that will always make me happy without fail: my dog and The Great British Bake Off.
The Great British Bake Off (or The Great British Baking Show as it is stylized in the US and Canada) is a British baking competition where twelve amateur bakers compete each week to win “Star Baker,” in the hopes of making it to the final round and winning the competition. There are three rounds in each episode: the signature challenge, the technical challenge, and the showstopper challenge.
And it is the purest show on television.
Unlike most American cooking competitions, where the egos are almost as hot as the steaks and the challenges/concepts get more outrageous with every new series, The Great British Bake Off is a straightforward baking competition with people who are all supportive of each other and legitimately there to do their best. The show is slightly different not, as it moved from BBC One to Channel 4 in Great Britain, but for the seasons available on Netflix (aka the ones that I have seen), it may be the wholesome show on TV. Additionally, it also might be the most British thing ever. The competition takes place in a tent decorated with little Union Jack flags in the English countryside on the weekends. It’s filmed in the garden of a mansion that appears to be straight out of Jane Austen novel. During the week, the bakers carry out their normal lives, go to work, practice their baking and hug their families. No boiler pot, everyone-lives-together shenanigans here.
The show is hosted by two of my favorite people on the planet, Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins, who have made every pun and sexual innuendo one could possibly make on a baking show. They also react the way all of us would if we found ourselves on the set of a baking competition: sneaking bites of the food, reacting at the creations of the bakers with wonder and awe, sneaking bites of the food, bantering with the bakers, sneaking bites of the food, etc.
The contestants are also super British and adorable. Personally, I always love the little old men on the show, like Norman from Series 5 (the first season on Netflix). Most of the contestants are so accidentally hilarious. Like they don’t mean to be, but they’re just so adorable and pure that you’re not sure whether to “aww” or laugh or cry. Additionally, they’re always more than willing to help each other out. On American competition shows, if someone goes to help someone, there is always a cutaway of another contestant saying “this is a competition; why are you helping people??” But on this show, everyone is more than willing to lend a helping hand to their competitor.
And this is not to say there isn’t drama on the show. There have been episodes where people argue or accidentally use the other person’s ice cream or otherwise screw up another contestant’s bake, but it is much more satisfying drama because we aren’t constantly being inundated with it. It’s also just nice to see people be kind to each other.
And now we need to talk about the judges: Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood. (Which are actually their real names, which is just insane.) Mary Berry is truly the grandmother we all want. She’s the best woman on the planet and I just want to hang out and drink tea and eat her bakes. And truly, I don’t understand the thirst for Paul Hollywood (I get it; he has nice eyes, but chill), but he’s such a good man. They’re the best judges on any reality TV show and the fact that Mary is off the show now… I’ll never be truly full again.
A quick list of some incredibly beautiful moments from the show:
1. Paul’s bread lion. It’s important to me.
2. Mel and Sue fighting over food, specifically a bowl of mousse
3. Whenever Mel and Sue surreptitiously steal food from the contestants, eliciting a “same” from all of this
4. Nadiya having the best facial expressions of all time
5. Everything Norman did, including thinking pesto was exotic.
6. Whenever someone says they grew an ingredient in their garden, I weep
7. When Sue straight up squished Howard’s muffins??? With her elbow?? And he was totally cool about it????
8. James Morton’s jumpers and Mary Berry’s jackets
9. Mary getting exceptionally excited about the doughnut cocktail
10. And Val saying “When you bake, you bake for a reason. And you’re giving it to people, so you make it the best you can. You make it with love. And whenever I make anything, I stir love into it, I knead love into it, so when I present it, it’s something special.”
Thank you, The Great British Bake Off, for truly being the best show on television. If you’re ever taken off Netflix, nothing will ever be the same.