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Review: 'Nailed It! Holiday!' Is An Absolute Gift

By Kristy Puchko | Streaming | December 7, 2018 |

By Kristy Puchko | Streaming | December 7, 2018 |


It’s the most wonderful time of the year! No, I don’t mean Christmas. I mean it’s time for a fresh and funny season of Nailed It!, Netflix’s sweet yet salty baking series. With Nailed It! Holiday!, comedian Nicole Byer and chocolatier Jacques Torres have returned with a string of delightful new episodes that feature an ambitious array of festive recipes and confounded bakers—just in time for the holidays!

On Nailed It!, a trio of home bakers, who are notorious for turning flour and sugar into cake-tastrophies, are invited to take on adorable and complicated recipes for a $10,000 cash prize. They’re set up to fail, and they know it. But the show’s tone—steered by an ever effervescent Byer—is more mirthful than mocking. We laugh with the contestants as they watch their cookies crumble and cakes topple, then we root for them just the same! There’s a celebration no matter what mess they present. And the judges’ panel always manages to offer encouragement, between chuckles and the occasional spitting out of a particularly bad batter. The only real twist in Nailed It! Holiday! is the festive theme, which demands contestants construct dreidel-shaped cake pops, adorable Arctic animal-styled donuts, and a massive cake that features Santa stuck Pooh-bear style in a chimney.

Netflix only gave this critic the first three episodes of the reported seven-episode season. (This did not include the Jason Mantzoukas ep!) But I’m actually kind of glad! Because my only complaint about Nailed It! Holiday! is that I want more!

Byer and Torres have incredible chemistry. She explodes with enthusiasm, laughter, and snark, while Torres is her tickled sidekick, offering patient pointers about baking and contagious giggles when she raids the pantry for a giant sheet of Rice Krispie Treats to share with a guest judge Lady and The Tramp-style. The two have genuine fun together, and their glee is contagious. Their convivial chemistry paired with the series’ purposefully messy presentation—which reveals when guests go MIA or props fall apart during production—makes for a scrappy “let’s put on a show” energy that is warm and enveloping. It makes you feel like you’re part of the experience, from cackles to cake fails, shocked jaw drops to jubilant victory dances.

Nailed It! Holiday! proves its makers know what we love best about the show. And they are sure to deliver more in this special collection. For one thing, the first episode opens with a shocking revelation from one of its breakout stars. Check it out below.

Yes, W(h)es, who had golden, Thor-like long locks that recurringly distracted Byer in its first two seasons, has gotten a haircut. And her dismay over this is the playfully grinchy way the reindeer games begin. Even in the three episodes that I had the pleasure to watch, there are too many highlights to list. But here’s a few of my favorites: we enjoy the return of coveted wedding cake designer and season one’s GREATEST guest judge Silvia Weinstock, who brings along a very special Hannukah gift, and gets one in return. (MORE LOOTING!) In a heart-warming victory, one introverted contestant earns the slow-clap that every child of the ’80s has dreamed of receiving IRL. A helpful chyron warns us that the best way to drizzle chocolate is with a spoon, not a “stunt Jesus.” And—perhaps best of all—Byer gets a dashing, muscle-bound, singing, dancing fireman to flirt with.


In episode one, we meet strapping real-life He-Man figurine Gavin Schmidt, a firefighter whose beefy shoulders first catch Byer’s eyes while he’s using the blender. The two exchange glances, playful and provocative. He sings for her. (A song about a cat who meows, but still.) He dances to impress her. (“Who says white people don’t have rhythm? They’re lying!”) They banter about donkeys and failed wordplay. And to celebrate his completion of the first task, the pair shares a hug, long, hot, long, like almost too long. Like, guest judge Lauren Lapkus is uncomfortable (“This is just a little too long.”) But Nailed It! knows how to revel in the fun of such a moment. While Byer is nestled cozily in Schmidt’s superhero-like arms, the shot lingers, allowing us to enjoy their shared grins. Hers is hidden in his strong shoulders, but you can hear her through the muffled microphone, narrating the experience for us: “Oh this is very good for me. This is my Christmas miracle.”

And before someone jumps in to be a buzzkill about how this is inappropriate and what if a male host did this—first off, lots of male game show hosts flirted with contestants. And for decades it was just part of being Chuck Woolery. Second, Schmidt is enthusiastically consenting. She asks for a hug, he gladly obliges, and even coos, “I’m never letting go!” Spoilers: he does. But Byer, still high on all that hotness, moves on to the next contestant declaring, “That hug will live with me.” And she’s not alone.

Byer has a delicious sauciness that makes every element of this kooky baking series pure fun. All I want for Christmas is more. And then, Netflix, how about giving her and the firefighter a rom-com of their own? You’ve been killing it with that underserved genre lately. And with her flashy and flawless fashion sense, unapologetic verve, and unparalleled charisma, Byer would be a perfect leading lady. I don’t know if Schmidt can act, but with good looks, great chemistry, and a swoon-worthy screen presence, he’s already head and shoulders above a bunch of the bland ingendudes Hollywood’s been trying to make happen. And hey! Schmidt even gave you a tagline for the taking: When You Make A Good Donkey, You Throw The World At It.

Just go with it.

Nailed It! Holiday! hits Netflix December 7.

Header Image Source: Netflix