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A Tent Full of English Short Crust: The Great British Baking Show

Egarwaen

(He/Him)
To be fair, I think most people have never used deep fryers like they do on the show. Even though it's relatively simple, it's not a piece of kitchen equipment a lot of people own.

Thats true and I can see that throwing some of them off. But IIRC practically the entire tent made basic “frying dough” mistakes like when to flip the donuts or how to tell when they were done!
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
I'm not going to watch it but was it like when there was "oriental" music whenever there was a segueway to Japan in "The Toys That Made Us"?
 

Phantoon

I cuss you bad
Not as far as I can remember. Just a bunch of British people who'd never heard of this stuff before.
 

Rascally Badger

El Capitan de la outro espacio
(He/Him)
Yeah, it wasn't really that bad.

At least, it wasn't that bad from the perspective of a person who knows nothing about Japanese food. I guess there could be something like when they made American pies, but I don't know if what they were saying is wrong.
 

Egarwaen

(He/Him)
That definitely wasn't good. Nothing they made was really specifically Japanese, and there were more than their fair share of racist jokes. And they appear to have chosen Japanese Week because Paul did a food-travel show about Japan, making it a sort of extra appropriative cross-promotion. And that's even before we get to Hermine making a "geisha" cake for the "kawaii" showstopper, or Matt's "foreign food is gross" gags. Or Paul demanding a special gherkin-less sample of Marc's signature.

It certainly could have been worse.
 

Jeanie

(Fem or Gender Neutral)
I audibly groaned when they announced it was Japanese Week.

Same. And again when they made the Mango/Manga joke that is still not funny. Looking at you Manga Thread whose Mangos don't load up properly on my tablet.

The steamed buns were mostly fine, just disappointed in how most Bakers didn't go for a traditional look. There's a Simpsons reference in the hamburger types that I surprised no one picked up on. Also Paul is a jerk for asking for gherkins to be left out of his, unless he has some odd allergy to them, in which case I'm the jerk. Its something that causes the Bakers to alter their bakes and could affect the challenge, like Lottie pointed out afterwards.

The technical was meh.

The showstopper was also kinda cringe, but I was happy that Lottie's cake was so good it shut Paul up for a minute.
 

muteKi

say "fish don't exist" to my face, motherfucker
Or Paul demanding a special gherkin-less sample of Marc's signature.

"well of course it's dry there's no gherkin in it!" said the entire internet.
Maybe it would have worked if they had a couple people on staff familiar with Japanese baking stuff but...yeah. What a pointless theme! The problem of Eurocentrism in a show about what are almost exclusively European baking techniques is not a problem with the show.
 

Egarwaen

(He/Him)
What a pointless theme! The problem of Eurocentrism in a show about what are almost exclusively European baking techniques is not a problem with the show.

I think Eurocentrism is the right way to put it, as the American Pies episode was equally baffling.
 

muteKi

say "fish don't exist" to my face, motherfucker
Right, like the reason Eurocentrism is bad is that these countries have had centuries of colonial control of most of the world, and why people fight against it in public spaces, intellectual discussion, etc. In cases like this where it's a bunch of white people arguing over what's authentically Japanese, they're not correcting anything, just doing the colonialism thing under a guise of progress...
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
Damn, I am sad to hear that. Every so often while I'm watching the show I think about him and his ukelele club.
 

Jeanie

(Fem or Gender Neutral)
Its the hottest weekend* of the year, lets do an Ice Cream Showstopper!

*Throws season in the bin*

*Was it filmed on a weekend?
 

SabreCat

Sabe, Inattentive Type
(they/them)
Paul's "we didn't know it'd be this hot!" made me shout at the TV. My dude, the tent gets blisteringly hot every season and there's this thing called climate change happening this is 100% an avoidable mistake
 

Phantoon

I cuss you bad
British weather is unpredictable. It could equally well have been snowing. This year was genuinely hot until about June, then it's been overcast ever since. Whether they should have tried ice cream in an non-airconditioned tent at all is questionable, but the weather is an completely unknown factor. We can have four seasons in a day.
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
For real, why can't they just air condition the tent? This happens every season. Like, the cast and crew don't want to work in that kind of environment either. Making the contestants fry donuts and work with ice cream on top of that is just cruel. It's cruel! And if it turns out to not be a hot day, then you can turn the AC off! It's not hard! It's 2020, we have this technology.
 

Rascally Badger

El Capitan de la outro espacio
(He/Him)
That was a really good, very disappointing episode. The show is so much better when it sticks to British foods.
 

SabreCat

Sabe, Inattentive Type
(they/them)
Welp, another episode that got me shouting "that's bullshit" and getting up to leave before watching the outtro interview shots. Paul just can't help making his decisions based on skin color, can he.
 

Egarwaen

(He/Him)
We've been rewatching some of the older BBC seasons, and it's really obvious that fame has gone to Paul's head, and also that Mel, Sue, and Mary did a lot to keep him in check. It's also really obvious that Channel 4 simply isn't attracting the same caliber of contestant as the BBC was able to; after the first couple eliminations the contestants in the BBC seasons are able to take for granted skills that Channel 4 finalists struggle with. It's hard to tell whether they're intentionally seeking less skilled contestants or more skilled bakers are simply avoiding the program.
 

muteKi

say "fish don't exist" to my face, motherfucker
I mean I would think mostly the former, but then you still get some incredibly talented bakers like Hermine who are just a delight to watch work. I'm betting on her to win frankly.

Anyway since the new episode is out, I can barely wait to watch it with my wife tonight.
 

Egarwaen

(He/Him)
Finally watched this week and wow that was some bullshit. Once again The Technical Doesn’t Matter - and the technical ranking bears no relation to the tasting feedback.
Hermine swapping recipes the day before and making something she hadn’t practiced wasn’t a great move, but Laura literally failed to execute two of the three challenges. And every single time her bakes get the same feedback - “looks like shit, tastes iffy, but that one flavor!”

The editing is getting really shaky too. Laura’s summary of her signature judging is totally at odds with what we were shown, for example. And Noel’s behavior toward Peter is just getting creepy.
 

muteKi

say "fish don't exist" to my face, motherfucker
Oh man it's patisserie week! I expect to see Hermine do very well on this one. Be shocked if she doesn't get star baker.
 

Alixsar

The Shogun of Harlem
(He/him)
Re: the weather issues this season. That happens pretty much every season, and ofc climate change is a thing...but one thing they've mentioned once or twice in interviews but everyone has MOSTLY been avoiding is that this season was shot in six weeks, instead of the usual 12-13. I think a lot of this season's problems stem from this. I do think the contestants have been struggling a lot more this season that previously, and I think a part of that is that it's presented as if they do their bakes and have a full week off...but they don't! They're doing the competition, and then immediately practicing for the next one and are back in the tent in 2-4 days or so. Granted, the regular way of doing it is still stressful; people have to find time to practice while living their normal lives. But essentially the contestants are doing a marathon with no breaks of any kind at all (there's been vague references of a "practice tent" that they can use on their days off), and I've gotta imagine that takes a toll on them.

Re: everyone sucking this season. I don't think it's a question of talent; there's been a lot of really good work...that said it DOES feel like the overall standard has dropped a bit, but I think again that's partly due to the structural changes to the show that were necessary from Covid. I don't think you can blame it on Channel 4 not attracting good contestants though, cuz Steph from last season was maybe the strongest contestant ever? But I think the other part of the equation is the producers. I think they're just kind of running out of ideas on what to bake that they haven't done before. That lemon pudding thing from a week or two ago was something no one on Earth has ever heard of, and then they didn't give them enough time to do it. Japanese week was a weird crosspromotion thing that Paul HAD to have some sort of say on since he just did a miniseries on Japanese food. There's been a lot of weird decisions overall.

I'm reminded of something Hirohiko Araki said about his manga Jojo's Bizarre Adventure (paraphrasing in a big way): "I want the reader to always be thinking "what? how can this be?" I want them to always be surprised by what they're seeing". I feel like the producers feel like they HAVE to do that and have been doing various things to try and "spice" things up when it's like...yo, just have them make a cake and it'll be fine, that's all we want, you know? We don't need to see you guys fumble with pronouncing Japanese words or do "80s week"...what the fuck style of baking is 80s? Fuck outta here. More on this in the spoiler part.

I think the switch from Mary to Prue was totally fine, and I liked the Sandy/Noel vibe in a different way to Mel/Sue but I'm kinda not really feeling Noel/Matt? Ultimately the contestants are the most important part, but that's worth mentioning. I think Noel Fielding is overall a funny person so I hope he sticks around, but the vibe just feels off this season.

Okay now it's spoiler time

So yeah, I felt like last season and now this week with Hermine, they've been doing more "gotcha!" style eliminations. It's always pretty clear who the 2-3 favorites are and 2-3 bottoms are. This week was SUPER clear with Dave and Peter doing well, as they have done most of the competition. They've each had off weeks but overall they've been fairly solid. Hermine had an off week and Laura had yet another bad week...but it's kinda wild they chose Laura? And I wouldn't be surprised if that was the producer's whole plan? Again, this is them trying to "spice it up". Laura's been consistently bad with a few bright spots here and there, while Hermine has been consistent. You'd think that in light of each of them having bad weeks, they'd refer to Hermine doing great before and let her squeak in. But instead they chose Laura, whose only positive thing was that her last cake (the least ambitious of everyone's) tasted good despite looking like literal shit. She did one thing well, and only partially, and everything else was a disaster...and she's in? It felt like they were trying to get lightning to strike twice; hey remember when the favorite and most dominant baker ever Steph crumbled in the finals last year and the condescending heel David won? Let's DO IT AGAIN, BABYYYYYYY!!!!!!! (I mean I guess Laura isn't a heel this time, but still) ....yeah, I dunno guys. Of course Hermine being the last non-white contestant brings into question some other unpleasant things too, but who knows.

Oh and Linda hung around WAYYYYYYYYY too long. She had one thing she made that they liked the entire time, and she was there till like week 5 or 6? What the fuck?

Anyway yeah. This season just feels kinda "off" and hopefully they can get back on track next time. Still looking forward the final
 

Phantoon

I cuss you bad
I suddenly realised why it was off to me: Noel and Matt tell jokes, but it's all about themselves, not the contestants. I don't feel we got to know them or understand them this season, and it's a huge loss. The contestants are the best bit of the show.
 

Egarwaen

(He/Him)
The Channel 4 seasons have each had some strong contestants. But I feel like the overall level of proficiency is lower; skills that were taken for granted in the last couple BBC seasons are unusual or noteworthy here. Bakers regularly struggle with tasks that often got used casually to accent a recipe before. For example, the last couple BBC seasons it’s pretty common for contestants to just whip up some meringue to use for decoration; this season that basically doesn’t happen.
 

Phantoon

I cuss you bad
I agree with it completely.

I'm annoyed, I'd sooner have had them in the final and go on to win. The Bake Off is an elimination competition, however. Not a league. On the basis of this week, they were the worst and were therefore eliminated. I'm frustrated that it happened, but it wouldn't be the first time that the best baker had a bad week and walked.
 
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