The Great British Bake Off: The Ultimate Television Series


Ellie Snow, Staff Writer

I’ll preface this review by confessing my analysis of The Great British Bake Off may indeed carry a strong bias. I’ve been a loyal viewer of the UK-based baking competition TV series for about five years now, and I do not take slander against this masterpiece lightly. All my life, I’ve been painfully drowning in the television sea of overly-dramatized–dare I say trashy–American cooking competitions. Then I found, as most seasoned viewers call it, The Bake Off.
 A door to an entirely unique universe of reality baking was opened up for me as I watched twelve bakers work tirelessly–not only for their own success in the competition but also for the survival of their fellow competitors when in need of a helping hand. I was introduced to a world where courteous and televised baking no longer remained mutually exclusive. The contestants didn’t have to be petty or out-for-blood to last in a competition. On the contrary, this beloved European series represented the height of civilization.
A gentle and amiable soundtrack accompanies a beautiful balance of intriguing bakes and lighthearted entertainment as the bakers embark on three demanding baking challenges following the episode’s central theme (i.e. bread, biscuit, vegan, etc.). The judging of the piercingly blue-eyed Paul Hollywood and the eccentric yet gentle Prue Leith is consistently fair, considerate, and constructive for the bakers. Without a doubt, I can attest that not once have I disagreed with their chosen elimination. This in itself holds a factor in the show’s excellence. Even when one is saddened by the loss of a favorite competitor, viewers are, for the most part, left feeling understanding, accepting, and in agreement with the results of each episode.
Mind you, this by no means characterizes the show as a snooze-fest. The producers are never ones to shy away from some classy, good old fashioned drama. I can recall the indescribable frustration rushing over me midway through Season 1 as Diana, one of the contestants of said season, took a fellow baker’s ice cream out of the freezer to make space for her own, without informing the baker to whom the ice cream belonged. I found myself flushed with red-hot anger as she refused to apologize for destroying someone else’s bake. To my delight, it was revealed in the next episode that Diana would not return to the competition. (They claim she’d fallen ill, but I hold my own theories.)
I’m not ashamed to admit Nadiya’s victory in Season 6 left me teary-eyed, as I’m certain it left many viewers in the same state. Every Friday at 5 AM for ten weeks, I would watch her pour her heart and soul into every bake, and at the end of the road, I was proud to see her hard work pay off. Even if baking shows aren’t your cup of (British) tea, the lessons of resiliency and strong work ethic displayed on The Great British Bake Off are enough to warrant consistent viewership.
Set on the grounds of a luxurious English estate, The Great British Bake Off transports viewers to a world free from all troubles: The air is fresh, the spirits are high, and the only care in the world entails producing a baked good to be proud of. In confining times like these, an escape to a universe of carefree and wholesome British baking seems an adequate pick-me-up.
After a good long while of watching Bake Off, it’s evident the season’s journey belongs just as much to the viewers as the contestants. Every season I gain a family. The judges become parental figures. The bakers grow to be my siblings in a sense, each with their own trademark skill or quirk. The hosts grow to feel like close friends as they brighten each episode with their witty remarks reflecting classic British humor. With the end of every season, it seems I lose that family. Though the sting of this annual loss is quickly forgotten, there is a lingering sense of blissful satisfaction and happiness for all the bakers’ progress and the excitement for a new season.
In one year’s time, the cycle will repeat itself: I will witness the creation of culinary masterpieces and cringe at the sight of suspenseful failures. All along the way, I’ll enjoy learning my own fair share of baking types and British slang. The Great British Bake Off is an experience like no other, and I’m quite chuffed to call it one of my all-time favorite television series.