For months now I have been bullied and pressured by my peers into doing something I had no previous interest in doing. Something that would drain my time, leave me confined to the sofa gaping gormlessly into space, something that in all likelihood would give me the munchies. I am talking, of course, about the Great British Bake Off.
Being young and impressionable with too much time on my hands, I recently gave in to the pressure. I decided to watch the two most recent episodes, in the hope that I could finally understand the #hype.
Regrettably, I thought it was a bit crap. Firstly, the programme was too formulaic. I quickly caught on to the fact that there would be three rounds in each show, first, bake something with a bit of autonomy, second, bake something based on a strict recipe, third, bake something time- consuming with a bit of autonomy, or the hyperbolically named 'show stopper round'. I was lulled gently into this comforting pattern.
The first episode I watched centred on the theme 'free from'. So, I watched contestants make sugar free cake, and dairy free ice cream. Overall, the main thing this episode was 'free from' was entertainment. There were actual scenes of contestants watching an oven to see if their food was ready. I was watching people watch an oven. This was an experience both Meta and boring. The second episode centred on pastry. Shortcrust and puff! Having more of a savoury tooth, I did find this episode a little bit more relatable, but nevertheless dull.
Apart from the tired and well-trodden formula, two other aspects of the programme left a sour taste in my mouth. The presenters, and the contestants. The presenters are utterly superfluous to requirements. I have been informed that they are meant to be funny, but I am quite unsure. There are already two judges deciding the course of the show, that is who gets to stay on to pre-heat another oven, so why are there presenters? This is a situation in which there are 4 people doing a job that 2 people are qualified for. Perhaps they are interns?
The contestants take themselves far too seriously. In the pastry episode, the intense Nadia laboured over her vol-au-vent, but she did not have time to put the filling into the pastry. Showing great stoicism, she presented them to the judges anyway, apologising gravely and profusely. The judges weren't angry, they were disappointed. Paul Hollywood softly crooned his dismay whilst Mary Berry, a woman with a striking resemblance to a lemon shook her head. Then they tasted them, and they were nice. Cue sobbing from Nadia. Am I missing something here? In a time of food banks this all seems a bit distasteful.
In fact, more than this, the show encourages the contestants to derive their self- esteem from Paul and Mary. If the food is deemed good they are in ecstasy, if not, they are inconsolable. What an unhealthy attitude to teach added to unhealthy food. They don't even win anything. They should at least get a voucher for Millie's cookies. In any case, I don't want a part of it anymore. After two episodes, I decided there would be no more.
I did not understand the hype. I like cooking shows. Come Dine With Me and MasterChef are two superior shows but they do not get the same cult-like fan base as Bake Off. I don't get it. To make matters worse, it is on the BBC so there wasn't even the solace of adverts.
I came away from my experience feeling robbed. Those are two hours of my life that I will never get back. 120 minutes to never repeat, wasted in this bubble of yeast and piping icing. And out of rage of my time being snatched away came both a realisation and a resolve. Life is short. And So I have decided never to waste a minute watching someone knead dough again. I will live life to the fullest, hedonistically seeking enjoyment wherever it comes, and saying yes to every opportunity. In many ways, the Great British Bake Off was pretty philosophically enlightening, so I'll be generous and give it a solid 2/10.
Overall, I have concluded that The Great British Bake Off is the most oxymoronic show ever. It is simultaneously the most numbingly tedious yet inexplicably universally loved TV show in existence. My lack of ability to engage in it does lend me to complete cultural isolation, but I'd say this is a fair (hot) cross (bun) to bear.