The Great British Baking Show: A Source of Calm
Dominated by sabotages, ominous music, and spiteful jokes, American cooking shows are focused less on culinary talent and more on the drama between contestants. The Great British Baking Show, however, has a different tone, and, as a result, provides the viewer with a sense of catharsis and compassion, unlike series such as Cutthroat Kitchen and Chopped.
Judged by Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith and set in rural England, the show chronicles a competition between twelve amateur bakers, one of whom will earn the coveted title of Great British Baker. The show does not have any prize money, despite it being a months long commitment for those who make it to the end; winning a sense of pride is worth the time commitment for the baking hopefuls.
Rather than focusing on the rivalries inherent in the competition, the Great British Baking Show highlights the baking itself, as well as the friendships formed between the contestants. While many contestants certainly do tear up upon being eliminated, they also sometimes shed tears when their friends are sent home, which is in stark contrast to how many participants respond to tantamount situations on other shows.
“I’m clearly happy with myself that I’m still in there,” said Howard Middleton, a contestant on Season 4, when his companion Ali Idad got eliminated. “But it’s just really, really sad to see somebody go.”
Additionally, the soundtrack is one of upbeat strings and cheerful notes, making it wildly different from the gloomy music that backs other competitions and further pits contestants against one another. Though the music backing a show may seem to some a trivial component, it has the potential to completely transform the way a television series feels and helps to determine the viewer’s visceral reaction to what they are watching. The joyous music that backs images of smooth cake batter and proving bread elicits from the audience a genuine feeling of calm.
The Great British Baking Show has become wildly popular in recent years, in part due to the beauty of the culinary creations, but also, perhaps, due to the way it makes the viewer feel. The sense of genuine friendship among the contestants and the overall emphasis on kindness as well as baking talent creates a show that is unparalleled in its ability to make the viewer feel content.