Being the son of a baker and, in a former life, a scientist, there are a lot of Universal Forces dictating that I should have a talent for baking. I’m not very good at baking. On top of that, I’m not into all those tears and painful pauses you see on Masterchef, either.
That’s why I am stoked that Netflix has produced Nailed It, a TV show about people that aren’t very good at baking. It is hilarious.
I couldn’t give a stuff about the southwest liver and onion (with cactus salad and boysenberry sauce) dishes that get served up on some of the other cooking shows that have taken over TV throughout the past decade. I truly don’t understand the appeal of My Kitchen Rules, a show that is advertised via people making snide remarks at each other. Cake Boss? Okay, seems fun but it gets old.
What I am saying is there are not too many cooking shows that excite me (Okay, Iron Chef is maybe the best ever, yeah).
Enter Nailed It, the cooking show for people who don’t really like cooking shows. Hosted by Nicole Byers, Netflix’s original cooking show is a veritable smorgasbord of honesty, hilarity and a showcase of just giving things a red hot go. A fair shake of the sauce bottle, if you will. Each episode takes three (very) amateur bakers and throws them in a kitchen to recreate some stunning baked piece of art that, frankly, should go in a museum instead of on a plate.
In one episode, they have to create a cake that looks like a volcano, complete with dinosaurs and dry ice-smoke. This is the kind of thing you should not be making at home for your three-year-olds birthday party. They’re just going to crush the damn thing anyway.
Over two rounds, the three amateurs have to recreate elaborate sweets, which they then serve to the judges who make decisions – it seems – based on both how the dish looks and how it tastes. Generally, the professional, Mona Lisa-esque creations that the contestants are trying to build end up looking less like Da Vincis and more like Jackson Pollocks but that’s the fun of the whole thing.
It’s a show that champions failure so genuinely without being demeaning. In that know-your-limits, how-ridiculous-are-these-cakes-we-should-not-be-making-these-anyway kind of way.
It does gear the amateur bakers up for failure though – these elaborate, crazy cakes probably take a skilled baker a couple of hours to put together, but in Nailed It, they give contestants pretty tight time frames to turn around some absolutely ridiculous baked creations. The show plays out almost as if it is riffing on traditional baking shows, with Byers anchoring the series as judge, next to chef and all-round good guy Jacques Torres plus a guest every week.
It’s Byers exuberance and joy that makes the show fun to watch. She does revel in the schadenfreude, but the contestants all take it in their stride, realising that creating such over-the-top baked treats is just not something the every man can do, especially not in two hours.
Nailed It is the most endearing show about what people do in the kitchen that you’ll ever see. Nailed It feels like stuffing a giant piece of cake in your mouth and getting bits stuck in your teeth. It’s the definition of sweet.
If you’ve ever tried to bake something in your life and it has been a monumental failure, there’ll be something in here for you.