Opinion TV

Berate British Bake Off

This post contains spoilers regarding the winner of The Great British Bake Off 2017.

And so, another year passes us by, and another collection of delectable cakes and intense baking sessions leave the British public guilt-ridden as we inevitably ruin our already-half-arsed diets. Ah, yes, it’s another series of The Great British Bake Off. The entirety of Britain becomes a single entity as we give up our Tuesday evenings and spend our work breaks discussing the cracking foundations of Steven’s multi-layered meringue, or how Kate somehow managed to turn the tables so significantly in the semi-finals, and not forgetting how Liam’s exit made the entire show seem that bit less joyful.

This new and – of sorts – the revamped season has now come to an end. With the cake having only just come fresh out of the oven, Sophie has been crowned as this year’s winner of The Great British Bake Off. Though Prue already beat me to this.

All said and done, though, I’m not here to discuss this season specifically. I’ve spent year after year slowly making my way onto the GBBO bandwagon, eventually growing to enjoy the show. Yet I’m still sat here asking myself the same question – why?  Why do I enjoy this tripe? Why does the entire concept of this seemingly mundane show get me broody for foody, desperate to have a bun in the oven? By mere logic, this entire show should be as unappealing to me as the latest Michael Bay film. Sorry to go off on a tangent here, but I feel I need to tell you all an advert for the latest Transformers film popped up on my television just as I was writing this. Nobody can escape the sexplosions. That’s a portmanteau of sexism and explosions, by the way.

Man, I sure do hate Michael Bay. Wait a minute – what? Oh, yeah – FOOD. And there we have it – I fucking love food. Being one of the most consistently significant things in everyone’s existence, food once again unites us. If you’re sat, watching GBBO, all the while thinking about combining that several-month-old peanut butter in the kitchen cupboard with the more recent tub of Nutella before adding coco pops to it, chances are that you, too, love food. Or you have an ever-present binge eating disorder like myself.

*Stay on topic, Manpreet* – (Jonathon, editor.)

But, fortunately, I’ve reached that stage where I’m aware of various external stimuli influencing my every thought. So I know when I see a bunch of bakers on-screen that I’m going to want some snacks. I’m also going to want to finally try out The Mighty Boosh, thanks to the BBC handing the show over to channel 4. Despite this having been a displeasing change to many viewers it seems to have panned out reasonably well. Probably because we now have ad breaks in which to get snacks, am I right, or am I right? We’re obsessed with food. Why wouldn’t we want to see a barrage of desserts and pastries on our screens?

But is our love of food alone enough to justify giving our attention to what, on paper, sounds like such a dull excuse for a TV show? Surely we’d be better off indulging the sweet parts of our brains by just eating instead? Though doing this would inevitably serve to leave us feeling guilty about our own health and self-image. And, so, there’s only one natural conclusion. We’re all a bunch of sadistic bastards.

There’s no feeling quite like watching someone pour their heart, soul and batter mix into an elegantly elaborate cake, only to see the buttery biscuit foundations of it crumble in the final moments. Or seeing someone trying to prove their worth as a baker and, ironically, incorrectly proving their bread dough. We love it. And the best of those amongst us can and will argue that we’re not so cold-hearted and callous. That we genuinely share the heartbreak of a disastrous dessert during the show-stopper – myself included.

But admit it – there’s nothing more obscenely entertaining than seeing people’s efforts shatter around them during the final moments. Though, of course, everything here is under the guise of a reality cooking show, for which we’ve all been trained to adjust the depths of our sympathy accordingly. I’m not the sort of person to go around laughing at people failing in REAL LIFE. Because this show isn’t real, right? Right?

Well, it is, obviously. And I suppose that leads to my next point as to why people resonate with such a seemingly dull show – these contestants are us. They’re all normal, everyday people, just like me or you (sorry if you’re reading this, Your Majesty). These groups of lay-people turn their ordinary lives into something extraordinary by showcasing some genuine talent. If you’ve seen the show at least once, you’ll see that some of these people are truly talented. They inspire us all to pursue our passions and do what we love, because who cares what the heck anybody else thinks? Unless it’s Paul Hollywood stood towering above your slightly decayed rendition of the Tr-Eiffel Tower, Gollum eyes ablaze and shaking hand half-cocked, it doesn’t matter if you don’t succeed.

Week after week, we follow a group of the same individuals and see them both triumph and fall short on various occasions, and yet, just as with previous seasons gone by, three of these individuals have still made it to the finals. That’s what life is – a series of ups and downs. If we aren’t doing things incorrectly sometimes then we’re not doing the right things.

The Great British Bake Off sounds pretentiously dull on paper, and it might even seem it at an initial glance. But if you delve a little deeper beneath that initial layer of artificial whipped cream, you’ll see there’s an entire world’s worth of varying ingredients, combinations and concoctions, waiting to be tried and tested. Of course, everything has to be tried and tested before it can become triumphant.

The Great British Bake Off has concluded with this season’s finale having just aired, and the 2017 winner revealed. What did you think of the finale? And why have you stuck around, week after week? Leave a comment with your thoughts and we’ll tweet with our responses.

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