The Great Finals Stress Reliever

Recently, I was looking for a chill show to binge watch in the background and I stumbled upon something fantastic. If you’re looking for a relaxing, happy, and very British escape from the stress of your finals, look no further. The Great British Bake Off is a wonderful piece of entertainment. If you’re familiar with American cooking and baking shows, you might think a cooking competition would be a bit stressful. I’ve found that most American made cooking shows are highly aggressive and competitive. Contestants vie for high stakes prizes and often become frustrated with other contestants and the judges. American cooking shows are all about high stress and high drama, but The Great British Bake Off offers a refreshing alternative.

This show is a true delight. The premise of this little slice of heaven is a baking contest between 12 or 13 amateur bakers from all over the U.K. This diverse group of bakers has varied professional and personal backgrounds that endear watchers each episode. The bakers come together from their various walks of life each weekend, congregating in a picturesque white tent on a beautiful estate to compete in three challenges. For two of the challenges each week, the bakers get to prepare ahead of time, showing off their personal tastes and creative flair. One challenge is a surprise test of technical acumen set by the talented professional bakers who judge.

 

Each week, one baker becomes the “Star Baker” of the week, while another leaves the competition. While the bakers are given difficult challenges and sometimes face unforeseen mishaps, the competition is permeated with lovely Brits “Just trying their best” and “Carrying on” through challenges. While watching this, I was struck by the difference in attitude from the judges. I am used to celebrity judges on American shows ripping contestants apart and providing harsh negative feedback. Even the “grumpy” judge in GBBO, Paul Hollywood, consistently encourages his contestants to try new things and do their best. The judges offer constructive criticism, often using words like “stodgy” and “underproved,” but are genuinely excited to see the contestants overcome difficulty and improve each week. Judge Paul even gives players a coveted handshake (a rare occurrence that only happens a few times per season) when they accomplish a perfect and sufficiently inventive bake.

This show is a true joy. The contestants are a lovely and diverse group of Brits each season. Often, they forge genuine friendships with each other which is notated through a cute photo montage at the end of the seasons. Instead of a grand prize, each season ends with a party that each contestant’s family and friends attend. The winner receives a cake platter and lots of accolades. Not only is this show a treat to watch, but it’s also informative. I genuinely learned how to bake a pie by listening to all the helpful technical critiques from the judges and it turned out really delicious. If you’re looking for an escape from finals, watch The Great British Bake Off. You’ll escape to the idyllic British countryside and watch a charming group of amateur bakers employ their creative talents to create delicious bakes. And hey, who knows, you may even tap into your own love of baking!