Amidst the stresses of being a student, in addition to the old identities Hope College students maintain in their lives outside of school, there is plenty to be anxious about, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. With barely a week left of class, there is plenty of free time to look forward to as the school year comes to an end. Summer is always a strange time after having spent a year at college where there is scarcely time to breathe amongst the exams and the projects. It’s surreal when all of the busyness just stops and there’s a huge chunk of time not taken up by school. After my freshman year at Hope, I came home and, with a lack of any school work to fill my time, I read a seven-hundred page book in four days. When that beautiful day comes that this academic year winds down, I don’t plan on reading another hefty book (though it certainly is on the to-do list); instead, I will be partaking in my new hobby: baking.
In a previous article, I wrote every so briefly on my recent obsession with “The Great British Baking Show” (GBBS). I had begun watching earlier this semester as a way to wind down on the weekends and when I could carve out the extra time. Almost immediately, I fell in love with the series and had made it through two seasons before we were sent packing due to COVID-19. A few days after being home, I turned on the show in my parents’ living room and started a new season. By the end of my first episode, I had drawn a crowd and our couch was crowded to max capacity as the entire household had shown up to watch. Pretty soon, my family and I had made it to the finale. With rapt attention, we all watched as a favorite baker won. My family was hooked. Since entering into quarantine, my family has watched three seasons of the show and it doesn’t appear that we will be stopping anytime soon.
I’m sure you’re asking yourself, “Why is she so obsessed with a British baking show? There can’t be anything that special about it.” It’s hard to pin down an exact reason why this show is so popular among my family and I, but here are a few reasons why we love it and why you might too.
It’s so happy!
One of the most common remarks I heard when I was just introducing my family to GBBS was that it’s so lighthearted and positive. The most obvious indicator of this is at the end of many of the seasons, there’s a slideshow of all of the contestants driving around Britain to visit each other or bake together. Even though the show is a competition, it’s also the catalyst for creating new, lifelong friendships.
Everyone is on the same team
Yes it is a competition, but the bakers really do have the best attitudes about helping each other. Towards the end of each baking challenge, often there’s a contestant or two struggling to finish their bakes but you’ll see other bakers stepping in to help them. The prospect of helping one’s competition is quite a foreign concept to see in a competitive baking show, but it’s refreshing and so positive because of it. At the end of each episode, when it is announced which baker will be going home, there is always a round of group hugs and kisses on cheeks. There is true sadness for the end of the journey for all of the contestants that have to go home but it is so incredible to see the caring and optimistic spirit in the show
Contrary to many other tele-competitions of the sort that usually have some kind of monetary prize for the winner, GBBS has nothing. That’s right, there is absolutely no prize for winning the show. There’s no cash, cook book deal, sponsorships, nothing! The only thing the winner receives at the end is a massive bouquet of flowers and a commemorative cake stand. Because there is nothing to win, or lose for that matter, the contestants are on the show out of a pure love for baking and that is something that we just don’t see anywhere. There is always some prize or caveat to win, but these bakers really just want to prove to themselves that they can do well at what they’ve set their minds to.
It is remarkably soothing to watch contestants pipe frosting onto a cake or create chocolate structures out of molds. The bakers create some of the most beautiful, decadent cakes and it is truly incredible to see them create what they do in the small amount of time that they have, but that is just the problem. As an avid viewer of the show, I can only rely on what I see. My only complaint is that I can’t taste what the bakers create!
Unlike various other shows on Food Network, Great British Baking Show (sometimes called Great British Bake Off depending on who you ask) has contestants that are ameateur bakers, meaning that they don’t bake for a living. Many contestants have day jobs and baking is just a hobby they do with their free time. There’s so much variety in age, gender and background, and everyone brings something different to the table which just isn’t the case in many other similar shows. It’s truly a celebration of what makes everyone unique and letting them show off what unites them all: their love of baking.
As someone who has never considered herself much of a baker, it’s refreshing to see people on screen who don’t always know exactly what they’re doing. It’s also inspiring to see so many people who have gotten really good at baking even though it is just a hobby for them. In my own time, I’ve been trying a few of the recipes, and while they aren’t nearly as pretty as those on the screen, they are pretty delicious. While quarantine is not what anyone expected they would be doing this time of year, there us a multitude of ways to make the days just a little bit brighter, and this baking show is one of mine.
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