Blown Away Review: Netflix’s New Reality Series Puts Art At The Forefront Glass Act

3.5

Summary

Respect for a craft and a lack of silly reality-TV theatrics puts art at the forefront of Netflix’s new show.

The Netflix reality show is not exactly a refined art form, which you’d think would make it incompatible with such a delicate art as glassblowing. On that note, does anyone aside from glassblowing enthusiasts actually know anything about glassblowing, beyond its artistic and occasionally abstract results? I suspect not. And if that’s the case, Netflix’s new series Blown Away has you covered. It’s a gently competitive and refreshingly unsensationalized look at the making of art in an incredibly specific and intricate way, and the promise of lucrative prizes for the winner helps bring those elements to the surface.

When you build a show around something like glassblowing, there’s always a tricky balance to find between clueing the audience in on what they’re seeing while letting the personalities of the contestants come to the forefront. Blown Away finds that balance well, allowing us to see the imagination behind the designs, the preciousness and fragility of the craft, and the pride of the presentation. These are all elements given equal weight within the process, but luckily the end results speak for themselves.

Some of the pieces constructed throughout Blown Away are stunning and made more so by a shared knowledge of not only the process of its creation but what it means to a particular artist. Through expert judges who clearly haven’t been given the tiresome mandate of being as harsh and snarky as possible, viewers are able to appreciate the processes — thought and physical — that bring these ideas to life. There’s something to be said for allowing a craft itself just as much time and attention as the crafter, and the competitive reality format strikes me as a particularly good place for it.

Will its subject limit its audience? I have no idea. I’ve never met anybody into glassblowing. But almost everyone I’ve met has an appreciation for craftsmanship, skill, hard work and beauty, and Blown Away revels in those things. If Netflix are going to consume the reality-TV market as they have many others, I hope it’s with more shows like this.

Jonathon Wilson

Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.

10 thoughts on “Blown Away Review: Netflix’s New Reality Series Puts Art At The Forefront

  • July 18, 2019 at 4:36 am
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    This show is not based on who is the best glass blower. Januse,’s work was far better than Brenda’s on all competitions. Plan to be disappointed this is a feminist show and is not true to the best glass blower…. speaking from a woman I was very disappointed.

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    • July 20, 2019 at 12:49 pm
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      I agree with Kristina (above review) absolute BS! The winner only won because she used feminist & religion issues or made up topics that made no real sense, also it seems to be more women judges, then men. She made a egg that couldn’t fit in the pan, and a chalice that was disproportionate, the winner was obviously based on issue and not skill. I will not waste my time on season 2. I i think that Janice should’ve been the final two, not Deborah. Very stupid ending!

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      • July 20, 2019 at 2:07 pm
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        And the “chalice ” didn’t look like a chalice. A chalice is usually gold or silver. What she made was more reminiscent of a vase.

  • July 20, 2019 at 1:54 pm
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    Brenda did not deserve to win!!!!! She didn’t even deserve second place, maybe third. I don’t know what the judges were thinking. I do know that they recognized Januse’s work was on a much higher level than hers, so were they just trying to create controversy. I just call bs all around. I’m very disappointed in the result in case you care what the viewer actually thinks.

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  • July 20, 2019 at 8:56 pm
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    I loved all 9.9 episodes until the wrong finale winner was picked. What an awful let down

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  • July 22, 2019 at 3:38 pm
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    I liked the concept and all the amazing things that almost look impossible to make. Unfortunately winner of the series was not based on talent. The whole social justice aspect of the winner took away from the art of glass blowing. They did not seem like a nice person, bad mouthed other contestants, treated their helpers poorly, and disrupted others while they worked. I almost stopped watching after the first episode because I had a feeling who would win. I stuck through the whole season and when the winner was chosen I felt as if I wasted that segment of my life watching the show. I would not waste my time if they decide to pick up other seasons. Halfway through the series I was looking to see where I could sign up for a glass blowing class. Their choice of the ‘winner’ crushed any desire to try glass blowing. In the episode where they paired up nobody was sent home because the worst glass blower was in the winning team. Could have been a great series but winner was not based on talent but their views.

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  • July 22, 2019 at 7:17 pm
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    who knew there was so many feminist glassblowers??

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  • July 23, 2019 at 1:19 pm
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    Im sorry but this was a amazingly well done… piece of LGBTQ/Liberalism propaganda. debra was talking **** on literally every male in the show, and while she is very good at what she does, she didn’t deserve the win.

    first off the team round was a highway robbery, Debras chalice looked like complete **** being disproportionate and simple while the “concept” of religion and science being a opposite duality was dodgy at best, while the others was a concept of multiple different opposite dualities combined into one (heavy/light, solid/clear, strong/brittle, black/light) and done beautifully and i think the judges knew that and ignored it to push the LGBTQ/Liberalism message they didnt even eliminate the others because they blatantly robbed them.

    Secondly (and more importantly) while debra is incredibly skilled and should be recognized for her skills it is complete bull s*** to LITERALLY ADMIT that Janusz Po?niak is the better glass blower, then turn around and give the competition to the LGBT, transgender, sexist, feminist for her “concepts” when she was pushing the same “concept” the entirety of the show, its not original 8 times in a row. not to mention they claimed that their performance would be judged based off of their work throughout the show, which debra clearly lost in overall, dont get me wrong she did have some amazing pieces that should have won and did (the movement one in particular) but the overall average was definitely lower than Janusz (the hand sucked, the wine glass sucked, the chalice was tacky af, etc.). Finally i agree with Janusz final statement, the appeal of glass is that its glass what she made at the end while cool looking could have been made with ceramics it looked like ceramics not like glass. sure it was glass but she didn’t show off glass she showed off a transgender concept and won for it. It saddens me to say but again this show is just propaganda.

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  • July 26, 2019 at 10:54 pm
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    I strongly do not agree with the judges choice on who won this show. Janusz was a over all better person and glass blower then Debra. Debra should of went home back when she made that stupid stop sign. How she made it as far as she did totally confused me. I will not be watching anymore of this show if they make a second season. Why watch something when they dont even look at who is better but only pick a person because she is so well at talking about everything she stand against.

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  • July 29, 2019 at 3:17 am
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    Are you flipping kidding me?????? This show was orchestrated to get the desired PC results before a sigle oven was turned on. Talk about damaging the image of a great craft! Now I don’t even want any glass artwork in my home as it will remind me of this travesty. What an incredible insult to Janusz and Alex who were the real talent!!!

    The only thing that was “Blown Away” was this series credibility!

    Reply
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