WELL, THAT HAPPENED: Sweet Civility

By on October 6, 2015

Drama-filled programming… isn’t always the best?

Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry are the affable and polite judges of ‘The Great British Bake Off,’ (Photo: Telegraph.co.uk)

Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry are the affable and polite judges of ‘The Great British Bake Off,’ (Photo: Telegraph.co.uk)

Jackson, WY – There was a time, though many years ago, when my hangovers didn’t hit me so hard. I thought “South Park” was the pinnacle of good television and eating Chef Boyardee was a classy step up from ramen. However, as I get older and venture further and further away from the mistakes and mishaps of my youth, I find myself watching a lot more PBS.

I love PBS. “Masterpiece Theater,” “Antiques Roadshow,” you name it. Recently, I just watched a Ringo Starr interview that was quite enthralling. The opening title music of “Downton Abbey,” just some classical piano with strings, still excites me every time I hear it. And yet being 28, watching these white foggy-filtered British TV shows, I worry that my life is passing by too quickly. But, the worry quickly dissolves as I make a cup of tea, snuggle under a blanket and watch another hour-long episode of “The Great British Bake Off.”

Two weeks ago, I wrote about being unable to keep up with hot new shows, and for me that’s because I keep watching reruns of the “Bake Off.” The premise is no different than the 100 other cooking competition shows out there — a handful of amateur bakers gather together for a series of challenges that will pick them off, leaving one ultimate winner. The “Bake Off” of course only deals with baked goods. Breads, cakes, tarts, desserts, you name it. Hosted by comedians Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc and judged by Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry (yes, those are their names), it’s the most polite, lovely competition show I’ve ever watched.

The stark difference between British and American reality shows is on full display in the “Bake Off.” Contestants are never at each other’s throats or throwing one another under the bus. Instead, like proper British folk, they sigh and perhaps pull a frustrated face, and then get back to work.

In one particular episode, the bakers were making trifle — a layered desert comprised of soaked ladyfingers, custard and usually a fruit element. However, Deborah accidentally took Howard’s custard from the fridge and used it in her trifle. Howard, distraught by his missing custard, but unaware of Deborah’s bumble, looked downtrodden and moaned, “Oh no.” Deborah then apologized and the judges managed to judge them fairly by testing the custards individually.

And that’s about as dramatic as it gets. It’s amazing!

I will admit that I am not much of a baker so watching these Brits take a stab at making things I’ve never heard of, like religieuses and île flottantes, and seeing them excel puts me in a certain state of euphoria, not often conjured during binges of “Top Chef” or “Chopped.”

I think what sets apart the “Bake Off” is that it’s just so goddamn adorable. The bakers are all exceptionally polite and humble, and Mary Berry’s harshest critiques range from, “Oh dear, that doesn’t work at all, does it?” to, “I am quite partial to the almond, but not to the ginger.” And somehow, SOMEHOW I am absolutely riveted.

I guess it just goes to show how good television doesn’t necessarily need to be pumped full of copious amounts of drama just to make it watchable. And while I haven’t yet started voting Republican or contemplating dentures and/or religion, I am quite fond of clicking on a little PBS every once in a while for some good, wholesome programming.

God, I’m going to be single forever aren’t I? PJH

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