Don’t Hate Me, but I Don’t Get the Hype Over GBBO!

published May 14, 2018
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(Image credit: Mark Bourdillion/Love Productions)

People are obsessed with the Great British Bake Off (aka GBBO). This show debuted on the BBC in 2010, and is now into its eighth season, with seasonal and celebrity spin-offs, too. The premise: Pit amateur home bakers against each other in an elimination contest over the course of the season as they face numerous baking challenges. The show is so popular that it’s acronym, GBBO, has become a household nickname and it’s credited with renewing an interest in baking culture in Great Britain. So after much persuasion, and I hunted down some episodes and watched them.

What I’m about to say is going to be extremely unpopular, so I’m just going to say it: I don’t get the hype!

I’ll admit: I’m not much of a cooking show person to being with. Most of the American cooking contest shows are too roll-your-eyes dramatic for my taste and, honestly, I don’t like watching people be stressed out or get criticized. Why is it fun to watch people race around and get yelled at? I have enough stress in my life without worrying about these poor strangers. (I did watch Hell’s Kitchen for a while because my friend’s husband was a contestant — he almost won! — but lost interest without the personal connection.) So even before starting this show, I was prepared to feel “meh” about it.

And meh I did feel.

My 3 Biggest Issues with the Great British Bake Off

1. It’s hard to follow the accents.

First of all, and this is slightly embarrassing to say, I found it hard to follow the accents; they’re just different enough that I found myself squinting at the screen to hear better, which obviously makes no sense. And when things require that much concentration I either need to be fully engaged (lights off and everything, the way I watch The Crown or Downton Abbey) or I’ll tune out.

2. It’s not terribly exciting.

Secondly, despite all my complaining about overly dramatic American food TV, GBBO swings too far in the other direction. The drama is just not dramatic enough — I need a little something more. Talented home cooks are just like, normal people; I’m not particularly interested in them. And baking is, let’s be honest, a very meticulous and slow process. Adding the history bits to fill in the hours waiting for biscuits to rise made me feel like I was in school (and history was probably my least favorite subject).

3. They skip over the interesting parts.

Finally, we don’t see the most important part. By letting the contestants go home to live their normal lives and practice during the week, we miss out on all the experimentation. Sure, stuff still goes wrong on the show, but we don’t see it go horribly wrong — because those kinks are often worked out ahead of time and we don’t get to see it. Instead, most of what we watch is other people watching ovens. Thrilling.

Now, in my searching I did accidentally watch a newer spinoff, with celebrities baking for charity. That was actually funny! Plus, they weren’t mean to each other; they even sort of helped each other out. Entertaining people good-naturedly failing at baking — I can get behind that.

More on Great British Bake Off

What do you think? Do you spend hours watching the show or flip right by it?