Being alive in the world today is nothing short of exhausting. These are the times that try men’s souls. But amidst all the stress and the strife and the misery, there is one pure, perfect thing that gives me hope and brings me joy and fills me with such incredible warmth and comfort, and that one thing is The Great British Bake-Off.
I first discovered Bake-Off on Netflix during what was probably the single most miserable time of my life–the summer after I graduated from law school. I was living at home with my parents, preparing to take the bar exam (which is a grueling, dull and despicable process even for those who actually care about the law and want to be lawyers, which I decidedly did not), and I was desperately, pitilessly unhappy. I had so much anxiety about the impending test that I couldn’t sleep (at all–I’m a bit of an insomniac anyway but this was unlike anything I’d ever experienced before: I literally did not sleep through the night for more than three months) and because I wasn’t sleeping, I was sluggish and frazzled all the time, and certainly wasn’t keeping up with my exam review course, which of course only made my anxiety more acute. It was a vicious cycle, but one from which I saw no escape.
But one day, one hot, restless summer day as I found myself roiling in the depths of that very specific hell, I stumbled across what seemed to be a quaint, charming little baking competition show which I knew had been all the rage in the U.K. since it began there several years before. In an effort to distract myself, even for only an hour, from the very poor choices I had made and the very dire, depressing situation those choices had landed me in, I put on the first episode of the first season available on Netflix. Within the first ten minutes, I was hooked.
I’m not quite sure what it is about Bake-Off that I and so many others find so compelling, but there is some strange magic that happens when all of the ingredients that make up the show are put together in that tent in the middle of the English countryside and whisked until blended smooth. It’s just so pure and so sweet and so thoroughly uncynical, which I have to say is NOT the kind of thing I normally go for, but oh, have I gone for it here. I’ve devoured every episode of every, some more than once. And while I miss Mary, Mel and Sue since their departure after the show migrated from the BBC to Channel 4/Netflix, the new crew they’ve assembled still has plenty of charm, and are able to strike much the same note of cordial silliness that has the become the show’s hallmark calling card.
Sincerely nothing warms the cockles of my cold, Anglophilic little heart more than sixty minutes of watching a perfectly curated menagerie of precious, self-deprecating Brits totter and chatter about while painstakingly producing beautiful pastries and exchanging witty Briticisms about baking. I don’t know why I love it so, but I do. It’s perfect television as far as I’m concerned. 10/10. It lifts my spirits and gives me something to look forward to and for one hour a week makes me feel just a little less bitter and jaded and cynical about the world. And what a gift that is.