The Great British Bake-Off Entertaining Television

Ruthie Gustason, Co Editor-in-Chief

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If the 2005 Pride and Prejudice soundtrack was a TV show, it would be The Great British Bake-Off. Much like the sweeping lines in Dario Marianelli’s “Your Hands Are Cold”, each episode has an inexplicable way of soothing the audience as the bakers enter the tent at the beginning of the week.

For fans of Chopped and Cutthroat Kitchen, Bake-Off might not be your cup of tea. While the stress and competition of a timed cooking competition are still present in the tent, the show lacks literally any degree of animosity between the competitors. The competitors never have a bad word to say about one another, and they frequently lend each other a hand after finishing their own bakes. Their friendships often outlive the competition, with season reunions being held frequently. This sense of comradery between competitors is what fans value most about Bake-Off. You’re not just watching people decorate cakes; you’re watching people decorate cakes and become lifelong friends.

Though the contestants on Bake-Off might be all sugar and spice and everything nice, the judges don’t always follow their example. Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry (later replaced by Prue Lieth) have no qualms with being brutally honest about dry sponges, under-baked dough, and soggy pie bottoms. Berry often brings contestants to tears with her harsh critiques during pastry week, and it’s left up to the charming hosts, Sue and Mel (later replaced by new hosts so far beneath their comedic abilities that I absolutely refuse to write their names) to cheer them up and prepare them for the next challenge.

     Bake-Off is quite unique in the way it assesses the skills of its bakers. In addition to creative “show-stopping” challenges, the show features a technical challenge in which the judges remove all details from a recipe and give the contestants a short interval of time to execute the bake with vague instructions and few measurements. Often the bake is one the contestants have never encountered before, and they must trust their instincts in creating a bake fitting of the judges’ vision.

     The Great British Bake-Off has mastered the ability to control the competition’s stress levels in a way that allows the struggles of the competitors to be both interesting and completely relaxing to those watching at home. It’s the ultimate comfort watch, and the perfect background noise to a relaxing end of your day. Just a word of advice- don’t start a semifinal right before bed. You won’t be able to sleep until you know the identity of the winner.