Review: 'Nailed It!' Season 3 - What A Treat! What A Dream!
Netflix gives us reason to rejoice as Nailed It! Season 3 hits this weekend! Charismatic comedian Nicole Byer and adorable chocolatier Jacques Torres return with six new episodes that boast hilariously bad bakes and wonderfully game-for-goofiness bakers! And while it’s hard to top Nailed It!’s best episode, Season 3 brings plenty of fun and a fresh edge.
In case you’ve missed out on the food-TV sensation that is Netflix’s Nailed It!, the premise is simple. Three contestants, whose baking can best be described as caketastrophes, compete in a pair of challenges in which they must make incredibly complicated confections in a comically short time for a $10,000 prize. They’re not expected to do well, but considering the guests, the judges, and the audience are all in on how unrealistic these expectations are, we can all enjoy the wacky ride to seriously banged up bakes. Because as mean as the premise may sound, its execution is deliciously humane. Byer may laugh at the revealed bakes; Torres may gently chide a baker to only buy cookies and never bake them again; but underneath it all, the real joy of this show is recognizing the joy in knowing you’ll fail but trying and thriving anyway! The bakers rarely offer something beautiful or tasty. But their sheer joie de baking makes them all winners!
This season, bakers are asked to make a wide array of intense desserts, like superhero cupcakes, a creepy clown cake, high-art inspired cookies, and an edible headdress. Whatever the theme, there are plenty of laughs and moxie. Plucky baker Cia Hang, who spent a chunk of his first round snacking on the pantry’s cookie supply, ended up presenting not the requested cupcake topped with a cookie, but an apple smudged in frosting with a cookie-like lump beside it. It was meant to look like Black Widow and the Hulk rushing into action, but without missing a beat, Hang cheekily pivots to an Avengers allusion, declaring, “It’s the Battle of New York!” Now, guest judge Felicia Day may not have bought his pitch, but I cheered raucously over it.
Chai’s non-cupcake is far from the most suspect “baked” good the judges will encounter. One contestant requests a stapler to secure her fondant, earning an alarm from the panel. In another episode, one judge warns, “There’s gonna be hair in that cake.” And another contestant full-on feeds them plastic. It might explain why the critiques feel a little sharper this season. Comments about these baked not-so-goods include:
“There’s something beautiful about someone taking the time to make a monstrosity.”
“Your cookie kind of looks like a uterus.” (“Why thank you.”)
“I’ve never been less excited to try something.”
“Did you see that movie Silence of the Lambs?”
Even the chyrons get in on the action. When one contestant begins to ice their cake with their bare hands, a title card pops up with a helpful pro-tip: “For less disgusting cakes, never frost with your hands.” The crew also lends a hand in critiques. When befuddled dad Edvard Strong inexplicably takes a rolling pin to his buttercream icing, Byer and Torres watch in shock. Thanks to a cameraman’s snort-laugh, he’s clued in on his mistake! And it’s cool! As Strong jokes in his intro, “What’s the worst that can happen? Except for thousands of millions of people laughing at me?”
It’s all good fun because all the contestants have seen the show and know what they signed up for. Well, all save for one. In “Cake-O-Phobia,” retired nurse Casalear Gross admits she’s never watched Nailed It!, but her daughter suggested she’d be perfect for it. She doesn’t subscribe to Netflix, so while she didn’t know what was in store, she was pretty elated not to be cut after the first round! (Nailed It! doesn’t chop out the competition.) Still, Gross soon got into the swing of things, much like her fellow contender Beverly Blanchette, who takes a cue from Byer and uses a minor on-set injury to flirt with the cute medic tending to her cut finger. And speaking of cute on-set menfolk: W(h)es is back!
It never gets old watching Byer bellow for the curly-haired intern. And this season he’ll reluctantly roll out in a series of silly costume for her amusement (and ours). Byer is once more a charm bomb, whether she’s coaching contestants to get a hot medic’s number, teasing another for sneaking snacks, or declaring she’s had enough of her shoes and so swaps to plush parrot slippers. Her enthusiasm and amusement are contagious, and her madcap energy and gleeful aggressiveness are perfectly paired with Torres’s unflappable chill and radiant sweetness. This dynamic duo bounces off each other with apparent joy that’s totally contagious. Some of the season’s best moments come from their exchanges, like when they discuss “dad bods” or when Byer informs Torres that there’s a stereotype that French people are rude, and he is genuinely and deeply shocked! (“No! Who says that!?”)
The only area where this season feels weak is in the guest judges. The GOAT is Silvia Weinstock, the stylist cake expert who delivers sass and advice when she’s not looting the storeroom. Sadly, she doesn’t appear in season three. Neither does Pajiba favorite Jason Mantzoukas. His sass and his unhinged energy is missed. Guests like celebrity chef Natalie Sideserf, pastry master Hubert Keller, and YouTube sensation Rosanna Pansino just don’t make as big an impression. However, comedian Betsy Sodaro gets in a bunch of weird punchlines that fold nicely into Nailed It!’s wonderfully wonky brand of humor.
Overall, Nailed It! Season 3 offers plenty of new opportunities to gasp, laugh, and cringe along with some colorful contestants, who can’t bake but can dazzle.
Nailed It! Season 3 is now on Netflix.
Header Image Source: Netflix
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