In the past few years, I’ve been gorging on what I’ve termed gentle competitions (TV shows). Of coruse, the grande dame is The Great British Baking Show, wmich I used to watch when it was The Great British Bake Off with Sue and Mel. Once they were pushed out, I was done. I felt it was sleazy and of course Paul Hollywood stayed because that’s the kind of man he is. I lost all interest once they were gone, but that sparked my love of competitive reality shows.
Here’s the thing, though. I don’t like the ones where people are nasty to each other or snippy behind each other’s back. I used to watch Chopped, and while I liked it in general, I started to beccome aware of the pattern that made it easy to gues swho was going to win. Not only who was going to win, but who was going to be cut after each challenge. If someone said they were confident they were going to win, they were gone. Anyone who exceptionally nasty was gone. But, on the other hand, anyone who was mildly brutish stayed. It got boring by the end, if I’m to be honest.
K and I were talking about these shows because she enjoys them, too. She mentioned that she started watching them once the pandemic hit because she just wanted comfort and warmth. I agreed with her vigorously. With the world being what it was, there was nothing better with hunkering down and bingeing a competition show. I preferred British over American for the most part.
I have watched so many of them, and now I know what I like and what I don’t like in a show. I will note that it’s different for different situations. If I’m working on something else, then I want a show that is lowkey. That means one that has a set amount of competitors each episode and then just whittles them down a la Chopped. One of my favorites in that genre is Sugar Rush. It’s the epitome of comfort food. You can consume it without much thought, and it’ll keep you satiated for an hour or so. There is nothing brilliant about the show, but it’s just a delight to watch.
The other way to do these shows is to have a group of contestants who last for the whole season. I confess, I prefer this to the different contestants per episode format because I can actually develop opinions and feelings for the contestants.
I will also say that when I see a bunch of diverse people on the show, I’m immediately boosted. It’s become the norm, which makes me happy. It shouldn’t even be a factor, but, sadly, it still is. What do I mean when I sy diversity? POC, obviously, but also gender in the competitions considered masculine (which, sadly, are most of them. Even cooking shows are considered masculine because–patriarchy), sexual orientation, gender orientation, and even age.
When I look at the contestants and see a panoply of faces staring back at me, One of my favorite shows concerning diversity was Next in Fashion with Tan France and Alexa Chung (Pakistani and Chinese descent, respectively)–ok. I just Googled and it’s coming back after being cancelled. YAY! Wait. Alexa is being replaced by Gigi Hadid? WTF???? I have many feelings about that. I may have to post about it later, but it’s highly suspicious that the 39-year-old fashion designer was replaced by a model/TV personality a dozen years her junior.
K told me about a show called Drink Masters–it’s on Netflix. I didn’t think much about it because I don’t drink, but I decided to check it out because she really liked it.
Here’s the thing that I like the least about these shows. The emcee/host is usually a stand-up comedian who is given truly dreadful ‘jokes’ to utter. I put jokes in quotes because they are often not funny. I’m not blaming the hosts because I’m pretty sure they’re not the ones writing the jokes.
Honestly, I don’t know why this has been the format. Yes, Mel and Sue were the hosts of The Great British Bake Off and they’re comedians, but that doesn’t mean it has to be that way forever more. I feel like it fails more often than not, and I have shut off a show or five because of it. I wouldn’t mind if they just got rid of that role altogether–or at least tone it down.
I mention that because I love Tone Bell as the host of Drink Masters. He’s warm and inviting, and he made me feel immedietaly comfortable with him. Yes, he’s a stand-up comedian, but he wasn’t spittingout forced jokes throughout the show. He also wasn’t hyper and running around all over the place. He was laidback and chill, and I would have a drink with him–as long as that drink was non-alcoholic.
He had an easy rapport with the contestants, and you could tell that they liked him, too. Seriously. He was exemplary as a host. He started a bit shaky, but then just got better and better with each episode. He related to the contestants and seemed to really care about them. He is easily my favorite host of asny of these shows.
Then there’s the two judges. Julie Reiner and Frankie Solarik. They are both pioneers in the industry, and they had an easy camraderie that really shown through as well. They gelled, all three of them, and I would watch them host/judge any competition show.
As I said, I don’t drink. That’s the reason I breezed by this one, but the competitions weren’t just ‘make a drink’. They had to make food, too. They had to work together with their fellow competitors. They had to do many drinks in one round. There were quick eliminationn rounds, too, that if the contestant won, they were safe for the rest of the night.
I was immediately enraptured with Suzu because he was Japanese and gay. Then there was Meredith. She was also gay–and looked like Rachel Maddow (very much my type). There were two black women, too, LP and Kapri. There was an Indian man, too–Raj. That wasn’t even all the diversity! We were smimming in diversity.
I did not mention that Tone is black, too ,which I absolutely love. It’s usually a white dude, which can get tiring after some time. Tone kept it real and it felt like he was being a performance version of his authentic self. I could see the contestants respond positively to him, which put them at ease.
The judges were forthright in their critiques. They were generous with their praise and they were searing in their criticisms. They never went over the line into cruel, though.
I found myself teary-eyed when somenoe had to leave the shtow. I really cared about most of the contestants and wanted the best for them. They seemed to want that for each other, too. One tiny nitpick with the show–they edited one of the contestants to appear as if she were catty towards the others. It was clear she didn’t really feel that way when I actually heard more of her talking. I know they want to drum up the tension, but why? That’s not why I watch the shows. I don’t want the contestants going at each other throats. I prefer it when they are supportive of each other.
I enjoyed this show tremendously. I went into it highly skeptical if I would like it because I do not care at all about drinking. But the show was about so much more than that–and I loved every second of it.