The Great British Baking Show is universally adored, and for good reason. Even the worst bakers of the bunch are still downright amazing. Everything the contestants create is not only complex, but visually stunning. It’s fun to watch it all come together. But we all know that about 90% of the population could never make even the simplest Mary Berry recipes the way these bakers do. Enter Nailed It!: The baking show for…the rest of us.
Based on the Internet phenomenon of average people trying to recreate elaborate Pinterest projects, Nailed It! challenges three home bakers to create intricate, over-the-top recipes. The results are not only horrible, but hilarious. If you aren’t watching this show, here’s why you should be.
The premise is simple, yet entertaining.
Like any cooking show, there are judges. Host Nicole Byer doubles as a judge, along with master pastry chef Jacques Torres, who serves as head judge. The third judge is a rotating guest, but always a legit expert in some part of baking and confectionery.
The three bakers compete in two challenges during an episode. The first is called “Baker’s Choice,” wherein the contestants choose one of three baked goods to recreate. The first episode had cake pops in this challenge, all themed around love, dating, and marriage. The winner of this challenge, whoever “nails it” the most (and believe me, I’m using that term very loosely), gets to wear the golden chef’s hat for the remainder of the show.
The second challenge, “Nail It or Fail It” challenges the contestants to make a super elaborate cake from scratch. Each baker gets extra help via the “Panic” button, where they can get help from one of the judges for three minutes. Plus, whichever contestant failed the hardest in round one gets an extra dose of help with another button, such as “Nicole Nags,” which sends host Nicole Byer to annoy the crap out of the other two contestants for three minutes, or “Freezerburn,” which causes the other two bakers to have to freeze for three minutes.
The winner of the second challenge (based on the cake’s appearance and taste), wins $10,000, which is shot at the contestant through one of those money gun things.
Out with the snooty, in with the realism.
There’s a $10,000 prize on the line, but the stakes for this show feel almost laughably small compared to your average cooking contest, like Chopped, aka the most intense (but still awesome) show on the Food Network. The attitude on the set is the polar opposite of something like Chopped. No one is really in a hurry, despite having only a couple of hours to create insanely difficult cakes. While the contestants try to do well, no one seems very stressed. They know they’re not going to “nail it,” and they’re having fun with it.
The judges are definitely not Paul Hollwood from GBBS. Nicole Byer, while judging, has taken shots of vodka, hit on the producer, and made fun of contestants. Which she’s great at. When one person tried to call her dessert “avant garde” but said it wrong, Nicole did not let it go. Observe:
The show is also self-referential in a way that works well with the tone. Not only is Nicole hitting on producer Wes, but she’s constantly giving him hell for not wheeling the cakes out on time, and we see him frantically running around, ducking down, and just generally doing his job. And because this is a Netflix show, Nicole jokes at the end of an episode that she has to go get ready for the next episode, “which starts in a few seconds!” Then she frantically runs off set to “fix her hair.”
We’re laughing with them, not at them.
Sometimes there are shows where laughing at people can feel really icky, like they’re not in on the joke. (Looking at you, old episodes of American Idol.) Here, everyone knows they suck at baking, and they’re still having a great time while ruining desserts.
There’s a cool sense of camaraderie between the judges (even the expert judges) and the contestants. Rather than judging them harshly on their horrible cakes, the judges are kind, while still making funny quips about what went wrong. It just feels good to watch everyone having fun. (I’m aware this sounds super cheesy, but I’m a sucker for a feel-good show.)
If you’ve been watching Nailed It! let us know what you think!