Some Constructive Criticism for Netflix's 'Nailed It'
When you have young children, there aren’t a lot of shows that the entire family can watch together, so like a lot of folks, we quickly took to the first season of Nailed It back in March. In fact, after the family watched it one-time through, our six-year-old twins watched the entire series again a good four or five times because there aren’t a lot of shows featuring actual real-life people that they’re old enough to watch.
There was a lot of anticipation for season two, as well, and we’ve been doling the episodes out slowly, one a day so that we can savor them. The season got off to a strong start, as well, and the second episode — which the girls have already watched three times — may have been the best episode of the entire run. It does what Nailed It does best: Make people who have no idea what they’re doing design and bake cakes and other desserts. In the first challenge, one of the contestants used salt instead of sugar to inedible results, and in the second challenge — where contestants were asked to design an elaborate unicorn cake — two of the contestants failed spectacularly in the baking portion of the exercise, which made the design portion hilariously impossible.
The cake on the left is what it was supposed to look like, and the cake on the right is what the baker actually ended up with, which was basically a soup.
That was peak Nailed It, but it’s been trending downwards ever since, and not just because of the repetitive nature of the show (Nicole Byer is fantastic, but she’s starting to sound like a broken record). The biggest problem is, they’ve moved away from baking and more toward design, and it’s not nearly as much fun.
For instance, one challenge saw the contestants attempt to carve elaborate intricately detailed animals out of watermelons, which required no baking at all. Another challenge saw the contestants build giant gingerbread houses, and all the gingerbread pieces were pre-supplied to the contestants. More and more, it’s about asking contestants to mold fondant and pre-supplied Rice-Krispies treats into shapes and less about baking. When they do bake, it seems like they’re basically given boxed-cake recipes, in which they need only add sugar, oil, and eggs. The only challenge comes in whether they know how to properly use a mixer or how much cake batter to put in a cake pan.
There’s no fun in that. Meanwhile, the degree of difficulty has gotten almost out of hand on the design portion of the series. In one episode, for instance, they were given two hours to recreate this cake, complete with the mice sculptures.
I’m not a baker, but jeez: How many skilled bakers could redesign that in two hours? Plus, the only thing they had to bake was a boxed cake that they had cut into squares to form the snake. The head itself was all Rice-Krispies treats and fondant.
The fun is in seeing undercooked cakes that taste terrible, not in seeing contestants fail to do the impossible. The show needs to get back to basics, and by that I mean: Four-tier wedding cakes that require some design work but that are not all about the design. It is a baking show, after all.
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