Let me tell you about my new favorite obsession. It’s a show about baking.
No, really, a reality show where people bake. They just bake their little hearts out. It’s freaking fabulous.
Hear me out.
First let me explain that in Britain it’s called “The Great British Bake-Off”, but in North America it’s “The Great British Baking Show”, something to do with trademarks on words like “bake-off” and a certain company has a dough boy. (“Bake off!”and “dough boy” sound slightly nefarious when out of context, now that I think of it.) Also, the started showing it in North American when they had already had three seasons of it in England, so our first season is actually their fourth season. I am feverishly trying to find the first three seasons because I love this show so much.
Why do I love it so? Partly, because it’s so beautifully and wonderfuly British. Everyone is an amateur baker,and so impressively polite and gently with each other. They are all nice people who just want to do their best. American reality shows focus on unecessary manufactured drama and interpersonal conflict, and I have no idea why. (I work in a hair salon and am the mother of two daughters….I live that stuff every day.) This show has contestants that actually give each other a hand and seem genuinely delighted for one another when they succeed. It makes me teary.
Secondly, there’s no money involved. None. Everyone is just competing for the title of winner, if you can believe it. No one is giving impassioned speeches about why they “deserve” to be there, or giving the side-eye to someone else who “shouldn’t” be there because they aren’t one-legged and blind and need to go to India to perform kidney transplants on orphans. Its nice to see a competition that is genuine but not cutthroat.
And then there’s the food! Oh my god, the food! These people bake the most delicious looking, fabulous stuff! I spend the hour drooling and in awe. It’s not just because the “Showstopper” segment is eye-popping (you should see what these people can do with pies!), but because I want to make almost every single thing I see on this show. How do I make Italian meringue! I need to make my own puff pastry! Where have custard tarts been all my life?!? Why have I never heard of Kouign Amann??? It’s inspiring.
And lastly, I love this show, because the world in 2016 is terrifying. For the first time in my adult life, I have chosen to turn off the news….there is just too much heartbreaking, frightening and soul-destroying shit going on right now. And I have absolutely no control over any of it, and it makes me anxious and distburbed and apprehensive. This show provides one hour in the week that is a haven from all that; everything is sweet (literally and figuratively) and gentle and utterly civilized. Who wouldn’t like a world where the worst thing that can happen is that you have a soggy bottom?
And I appreciate that very much.