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Netflix’s ‘Great British Baking Show’ is back—without these 7 classic character types

The popular competition show returns—as a weekly series—but in skewing younger, it loses several essential components to its success.

Netflix’s ‘Great British Baking Show’ is back—without these 7 classic character types
[Photo: courtesy of Mark Bourdillon/Netflix]

When those of us in Fast Company’s Creativity Slack channel saw the first look at the new cast of amateur bakers for “Collection 7” of Netflix’s Great British Baking Show, the reaction was not kind.

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“This is not good news.”

“OMG”

“I wonder why. Maybe they need to expand the viewership?”

“nooooooooooooo”

“So disappointing”

“don’t turn this into Chopped Junior

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The show’s success has always been rooted in both its cheerful spirit and the 18-to-80 appeal of the diverse cast of bakers. But now we’ve got a group of 13 bakers that isn’t quite MasterChef Junior, but its overwhelmingly young millennial, Gen Z makeup does feel a bit like Netflix convinced the BBC to graft aspects of the streaming giant’s other successful reality franchises, from Queer Eye to Nailed It!, into the new season.

What do we lose when the cast is man-bun and fit-model bros whose bakes are a hot mess rather than the traditional mix?

We don’t have Grandpa, who seems to have wandered into the tent looking for a gammon sale.

There’s no Mr. Mustache, who uses a cloche he turned on a pottery wheel at home and knows how to pronounce correctly. The fussbudget Mr. Precision, who has been baking every day for the last 50 years and whose style could best be described as 1974 garden party.

Sometimes, but not always, this person is also the Competent but Maybe Too Cocky Senior who can’t help but remind the audience of their decades of experience, their neighbors’ high opinion of their work, and so forth.

The Beleaguered Mom, whose usual audience is her children who eat heartily, doesn’t appear to be here. (Though she may be blended with the Indian overachiever this year.)

Where’s the Good-Natured, Self-Deprecating Dad who has given up on hair—well, really his whole appearance—and shaved his head? Often seen in Hawaiian print shirts and sometimes the season’s mad scientist.

There’s no Stern European Lady who brings recipes from the old country and does not take Paul’s guff.

That’s not to be confused with the Remote Provinces of the Empire Grandmother who talks to her baked goods. Tells them “In you go” as she pushes them into the oven and whose accent is on the verge of being incomprehensible. Doesn’t believe in modern gadgets—like timers.

That puts a lot of pressure on Phil, the Bloke’s Bloke—the working-class competitor who is out to prove men can awkwardly claim what was once considered a woman’s realm. Work is often architectural or mechanical (Phil is a truck driver!). Nothing dainty here.

Just for old time’s sake, we’re rooting for you, Phil.

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