The Great British Bake Off, a BAFTA Award–winning television series, exemplifies the best of what reality television has to offer: sweets, critiques, and layers of British humor. The UK show has propelled 24 different international spin–offs, along with similarly structured series such as The Great Pottery Throw Down and The Great British Sewing Bee

How can a show centered around competitive baking garner over 10.7 million live viewers, coming second only to a series produced in 1985? Well, in my viewing of GBBO, I think there’s a cogent, collective desire for wholesome content. In a chaotic world in which the events of Brexit, the 2016 United States Presidential Election, and the precarity of the French Presidential Election have profoundly deteriorated a collective sense of security and consistency, we need uplifting reality shows like Bake Off.

The popularity of The Great British Bake Off with Americans just goes to show how starved we are for humane reality programming where people aren't fucking and sucking in night vision or throwing each other under the bus in savage competition

— Anna Khachiyan (@annakhachiyan) December 30, 2017

The two hosts, Paul Hollywood, a bantering dad type with witty, offhand comments, and Mary Berry, an 82–year–old ball of warmth and positivity, form a perfect duo to carry the show forward. Recently, GBBO moved from BBC to Channel 4 and received a new host to replace Mary Berry: Prue Leith, an esteemed restauranteur with a different but still enjoyable charm. 

At the onset of every new season, 10–12 amateur bakers are chosen to compete in a weekly elimination process in which they must engage in three different types of baking challenges that showcase their ability and potential for baking. The first challenge of an episode, the signature challenge, demonstrates the bakers’ tested recipes. The second challenge, the technical, exemplifies the abilities of the contestants to bake only from a bare–bone recipe. The final challenge, the showstopper, asks the contestants to create a work that incorporates the week’s recipes with a more formal presentation. This simple structure has allowed for countless moments of folly and fortune, as some bakers race against the allotted time to complete the expected task. 

Despite its reputation for lighthearted entertainment, The Great British Bake Off has had its fair share of dramatic moments in its history. Well, at least as dramatic as a show about baking biscuits can get. In season five, one contestant took out another contestant’s ice cream from the fridge and all hell broke loose.  

In the future, when you’re looking for a respite from the hectic nature of midterms, The Great British Bake Off will give you just the right amount of excitement and general wholesomeness to get through the day.


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