The Great British Bake Off voted off the wrong person in the semi final (spoilers)


Spoilers for the latest season of GBBO including the finale
I’ve been surprised how invested I’ve been in the latest season of The Great British Baking Show/Bake Off. I think the fact that Netflix meted them out one episode at a time had me hooked more than previous seasons. I wish Netflix would do this with more shows so I am forced to switch up my viewing.

We’ve talked a lot about this show a lot in our zoom group and on the podcast. It’s a nice respite from the more cutthroat competition shows and is relaxing to watch. However there was the undercurrent of the pandemic in this season. When people hugged each other and kissed a communal spoon I whinged.

I saved last week’s so I could watch the semifinal and final over the weekend. I was shocked and so mad that Hermine got voted off in episode 9! She was the only contestant to win Star Baker twice and was a strong contender having a bad week. Messy Laura struggled too, her performance was so less consistent overall, and she should have been the one voted off. Laura has had countless bad bakes but somehow made it to the final. It reminded me of how quickly Sura got nixed, however she wasn’t as strong a baker as Hermine.

Salon’s Melanie McFarland has an excellent thinkpiece about this season. She note that mediocrity is rewarded and greatness is held to a higher standard with little room for error. That could definitely apply to this season of GBBO. Plus people of color, particularly women, are not given as much room or chances.

Looking at her track record, [Hermine] was more consistent than Laura throughout the season, had been one of the judge’s favorites four times, earning Star Baker in two of those instances. She was the only contestant this cycle to do so, by the way. Laura was in the danger zone several times and riding the middle in most challenges.

And this brings us to another culture-wide irritation boiling over of late, a general sense of being fed up with mediocrity being rewarded. Both the United States and Britain are currently being run by mediocre, unqualified men and women who failed upward despite their lack of qualifications. Some have opined that the mediocrity among the general pool of contestants this season was higher than usual. I don’t think that I necessarily agree with that, but in this particular season finale, three bakers faced off, and two of them are exemplars of mediocrity, although with lovely personalities.

To think about it, every final has had a mediocre person in it. Sometimes those folks surprise us. But that’s the thing about mediocrity – it actually receives more chances to surprise and succeed, whereas people who have been more frequently reliable and exhibit regular excellence may be knocked out after one or two screwups.

[From Salon]

That explains Dave and Laura’s place in the finale the best I think. Plus Hermine was so even tempered and calm that she didn’t bring the drama and tears like Laura. That surely factored in to the decision as well. In the end the right person won and he’s going to have an amazing career. I’m still mad that Hermine wasn’t the one to give him a run for his money, though.

Photos via Instagram. Photo on the frontpage is from Prue Leith’s Instagram

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40 Responses to “The Great British Bake Off voted off the wrong person in the semi final (spoilers)”

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  1. STRIPE says:

    All true, but I also think Hermine fell victim to doing poorly at the wrong time (in the semifinal)..had she given that performance a few weeks before, she would have been fine IMO. But because there were only 4 left, and she did the worse that week, it had to be her if they were judging on that week only.

    It was a shame I would have loved to have seen her in the final.

    • superashes says:

      Sura I understood, because she simply was not able to work with chocolate, across any of the three bakes, and that is a huge gap. Hermine I did not get, I think she was a victim of it being her specialty that week and the judges being underwhelmed after having high expectations, and that the decision was based on the footage where it looked like Hermine was making up her recipe as she went for the showstopper (the gelatin scene in particular). Even so, Hermine was easily the better baker and I still think the decision was wrong, and the finale just completely confirmed that to be the case. Even Lottie should have gone further than Laura.

      • Yvette says:

        @Stripes and @Superashes … Wow, I thought I was the only one surprised and disappointed and mainly confused at Hermine’s going home. I felt as if it was a deliberate move by the Judges. And I’ll bet we aren’t the only ones who think so. I’ll bet the TGGBS’s mailbox was overflowing with similar comments. Hopefully, Hermine will get a job offer out of this that will allow her to do what she loves best. Or perhaps an offer to finance a start up bakery for her. Or she could start her own home baking business.

        I agree with @Celebitchy that the Judges’ decision was based upon ‘who could bring the drama.’ Laura should have gone home at least three times over the course of the competition, and she knew it, too. How in the world did she survive her disastrous melted ice cream cake???

  2. Summerlover says:

    I’ve been a GBBO fan from the very beginning and I do agree that this year there seemed to be more mediocrity than before. And I absolutely agree, the winner is well deserved, however Hermine should’ve been the one to beat for him.

    • Mmc says:

      But they are baking under very different circumastances, isolated and with less time between shootings.

      And while Hermine was the overall better baker, Laura was better that week, and they judge only the one week. Laura got enough abuse online as is ( with many people going for low blows regarding her appearance).

    • TrixC says:

      I definitely think the standard was lower this year, and I think that was partly due to the fact that the contestants had to spend the entire time in lockdown with the rest of the cast and crew. I bet there are loads of potential contestants who wouldn’t be able to commit to that. Peter was probably the right winner, but I’m not sure he would have won in a previous season.

      • Blairski says:

        TrixC – Agreed! The winner was good but the overall quality this year was lower, and in another year he might not have won.

        This year: Charming personalities! Fun to watch! But not the same level of artistic quality that we’ve seen in some other seasons. I agree that if the judging was done on overall performance, Hermine should have been in the final, but honestly… did anyone else think it was some type of self-sabotage going on? She was just completely winging it for the Showstopper, whereas previously she had been so thoughtful and well-prepared. Or maybe she just had a bad day at the wrong time…

      • Imogene says:

        Agree – this is what I’ve been thinking too.

  3. Snazzy says:

    If Hermine had made it into the final she would have really given Peter a run for his money. I was so mad she was disqualified, just like when Sura was too. Peter was great and deserved to win, and I liked Laura as a person – she seemed super sweet – but her bakes were NOT the same quality of Hermines. Every one of Laura’s bakes in the final was a screw up.

    But even with all this whining (by me I mean), this show has brought me so much calm and joy during these last weeks. I’m sad it’s over. I may watch old seasons now.

  4. Oh_Hey says:

    I’m still tight about it but not a Laura. Paul, Prue, and some bone headed producer picked her and not any of the other qualified folks.
    I’m excited to see what Hermine does next. One of the upsides of GBBO not having a real prize is the exposure. Plenty of past also rans (like the lovely Kim-Joy) are having great baking careers even without the glass cake stand.

    Laura is probably a good stress free home baker and Hermine and Dave and the rest can go on and do some cool pro things if they choose based on their skills.

  5. Boo says:

    I liked Hermine better than Laura, but they’re always saying they judge week to week, not overall. I wasn’t too upset by it. I was more upset that she went out on patisserie week because I would have loved to see some amazing French pastries from her. I’m glad the person who won did win though.

  6. Sarah says:

    I think it is a bit cruel to describe Laura as mediocre. She was definitely inconsistent – capable of good bakes and bad bakes, whereas until the semi-final Hermine was pretty consistent.

    The thing is, I don’t think they really ever judge on anything but a week to week basis – so if you have a bad week you go out, but if you survive you don’t carry that into the next week as its a clean slate. That is probably for television reasons – they want to keep the drama of “anyone can go at any time” for every week. If you were able to gain credit for each week of good bakes there would be a lot less suspense.

    • TrixC says:

      It’s true that if they judged on the basis of track record in the competition, there would be a lot less suspense about who would go on any given week. But does that really matter? It also ruins the suspense when someone like Laura, who had no realistic change or winning, makes the final. Personally I think when it’s a close call between two bakers who have very different track records in the competition, they should take past performance into account.

      I also think that the producers have a tendency to keep people in who they think are popular with the public. Laura was a bit of an English everywoman, I think a lot of people found her relatable. And earlier in the competition they kept Rowan in instead of Mak, basically because he was more of a ‘personality’. I also think that one of the reasons Peter won is that the public never really warned to Dave.

  7. Jessa says:

    This is a consistent issue with GBBO – they judge purely on that week’s performance. Based on that week alone, Hermine was the right person to go, but on overall performance, absolutely not. It allows average people to go far in the show, and where something like a league table would really benefit.

  8. Becks1 says:

    I was disappointed to see Hermine leave because I found her bakes to be interesting – I thought she did a good mix of trying new things but not going overboard to the point where she couldn’t pull it off. Laura’s bakes were consistently pretty messy but I think her flavors were always good and usually the actual product was okay – like her custards were a mess but Paul liked the actual consistency and flavor or whatever – and that helped her I think.

    They do judge week to week which I understand for the initial weeks but it does mean that if you are sort of just mediocre, you have a good chance of getting pretty far – if you never bomb but never get star baker, you can still make it to the semi-final. But I think by the semi-final and final that they should look at the overall season, not just those particular weeks.

    I never really was a huge fan of Peter or David but once it got to the final I knew Peter would win.

    • heygingersnaps says:

      Well Prue did say, you have to not just be the worst and that actually sums up Laura and David.

  9. Mignionette says:

    Simple fact Hermine is not marketable to the great British public. She won’t be winning any endorsements, deals or fronting a TV show.

    Look at how the great British public exploded because of a Sainsbury’s TV advert with a black family.

    • Eni says:

      To be fair to GBBO and Paul Hollywood, they have a great track record of having contestants, winners, and top 3s of any origin, color, accent, look, you name it. I think the choices have shifted a bit since the move and losing Mary Berry… I’ve questionned the departure of some contestants in the past couple of years where I never had cause before

    • original penguin says:

      I’m not sure, most of the series have a good diverse mix. The greatest success story out off the Bake off has been Nadiya. A young headscarf wearing muslim woman. She was however, championed by Mary. I stopped watching after Mary left, Paul is an arrogant piece of work.
      Turning on beautiful sad young eyes at Paul works. Remember Ruby ?- she was Paul’s favourite barely 20 and stunning.Survived every week despite some horrors all the way to the final.

      • Mignionette says:

        Nadia was young and marketable and a lot of buzz surrounded her home life and good looking husband. People liked Hermine but I sense the GBBO producers couldn’t see that translating to endorsements (which the contestants receive and indication of during filming).

      • Mmc says:

        Would Laura s a plus size woman be marketable ( as a fellow fatty I don’t see us being championed in the media as much, esepcially of you’re not a hourglass like Ashley Graham for an example)?

      • Becks1 says:

        Ruby should have gone home LONG before she did, that was totally because of her looks, which I feel bad saying it but its true.

        I did just see that Nadiya is going to be on a show about American food that looks super fun. (maybe its not new but I just started following her on IG last week lol.) Nadiya was my favorite and I appreciate the diversity. I think though that a lot of the contestants this time felt less marketable because we didn’t really see their home lives or backstories the way we usually do.

  10. heygingersnaps says:

    I’ve fallen out of love with Bake Off more and more ever since they got bought/moved to Channel 4, but more so this year. In the past Bake Off series, I would be doing a bake along with that week’s theme and eagerly waiting for the next episode but this year’s series was kind of meh even though, I wanted to support it due to the additional challenges that the pandemic has brought in. I don’t know if it’s because of the researchers/producers but the challenges were just lacklustre (for want of a better word) not to mention that overhype Japanese baking challenge which turned out to be a big disappointment. At least, there’s Bake Off Professionals.

  11. Belli says:

    I agree Hermine was much more consistent and overall much better than Laura and deserved to reach the final. I’m still in awe of her masterpiece of a jelly cake!

    Laura was inconsistent and her presentation was generally terrible, but according to the judges her bakes always tasted really good, which is the one thing the viewers can’t comment on.

    They always make a big deal of judging only on that week and not someone’s track record though, which does mean it’s easy for someone to slip and leave early, especially in the later weeks with a narrower field.

    Ultimately I do think the right person won and Peter’s a little sweetheart who will have a great career, but it would have been a much tighter final if Hermine had been there too.

  12. whateveryousay says:

    I think my biggest issue is this show is inconsistent. For example, that episode where they had to build a top for the pie and then they didn’t taste it. They also didn’t taste the entire creations the final either. Remember when Flora got the boot before finals because Paul claimed that the whole thing had to be edible?

    And honestly Laura should have went before now. Every week she had major issues and I do think they kept her for the drama. Still better than last season when everyone was ready to murder Paul and Prue.

  13. Jennifer says:

    Dave should have won as well. Peter is a good baker, but I believe he was selected over Dave because then they could have a new tagline that he was the “youngest” baker to win and also the first “scott” to win. I believe that smidge of a difference they mentioned between them should have put Dave in the forefront. This show is declining, IMO. The judging isn’t consistent. Paul seems bored to be there at times. Prue is a semi-adequate judge but she just doesn’t have that something that Mary Berry had. I like Noel and Matt but I do miss what Mel and Sue brought to the table as hosts. It just doesn’t have the same quality or substance as it used to have.

  14. AnnaKist says:

    Aw. Aw. I wonder if GBBO is on Netflix in Australia. I loved watching it when it was on normal telly.
    It’s around 2:25am here, and I just sent a screenshot of that dresser to my bestest friend. I wish I could be there to see her face when she looks at her phone in a few hours. She will go mental over it, amd likely start trawling the second-hand shops, Fakebook Marketplace and wherever else she might find something similar that she can upcycie. The one above would be absolutely and utterly perfect for her home.

  15. Keen Kate says:

    Poor Hermine and co, but at least lovely Peter won.

  16. Ohpioneer says:

    I was very disappointed when Hermine got voted off. But as the judges stress almost every week the judging is based only on that week’s bakes and Hermine was the worst in the semifinal. This is one of my favorite shows. I love the absence of contestant drama and this season was interesting to me knowing that everyone involved had quarantined in a bubble. My favorite contestant of all time remains the yummy Selasi.

  17. Carly says:

    I was also very disappointed when Hermine was voted off. Laura was consistently messy to me but she did very well with flavours. I think the judges tend to favour good flavours. I think Hermine really did poorly at the wrong time but I think they should factor in history a bit more when making the choice. A two time star baker and very consistent generally.

    I wouldn’t say Dave is mediocre. He improved dramatically. Remember that Blink 182 cake he made? I haven’t laughed that hard in years because it was so dreadful. Then he just sort of exploded into a very hard working and determined baker. You could feel and see his anxiety during the final. Dave never gave up on himself but Laura certainly did. She strikes me as a bit undisciplined. She would get emotional and start to abandon her bake until
    Matt or Noel came by to cheer her. Like girl, you are ok tv on GBBO, get it together.

    • Mike says:

      I agree. David had one of the most impressive improvement arcs I’ve ever seen on GBBO, both in terms of technical and aesthetic capability. He’s obviously worked hard and listens to the criticism.

      Peter, David and Hermine should have been the finalists.

  18. LawyaGal says:

    Laura was painful to watch – Mainly because she seemed embarrassed and ashamed most of the time. She went further than she should have and it showed. I fear they kept her on because crying into a freezer is more entertaining than quiet competence. Watching her unravel on screen and then get abused by the internet is disgusting. She is a person. I read somewhere that when a contestant would have a breakdown or cry Mel and Sue would surround them and start swearing so the footage would be unusable. That is the kind of heart the current iteration is missing…

  19. Traveler says:

    I really dislike reality tv but I love the GBBO. I’ve watched all seasons and just recently found the Canadian version that had Dan Levy as one of the hosts for the first two seasons. It was a fun watch. So many “reality shows” mine for the worst in people and play up meanness and pettiness. Here it’s nice to see the bakers supportive of each other and the judges’ comments never overly harsh. It’s true the judges don’t rate the bakes cumulatively so one bad week usually means a baker is going home.
    Honestly though, I thought this whole season was pretty lackluster in relation to past shows but I still watched every episode and look forward to watching again next year.

  20. Lila says:

    I feel bad for Laura. She was out of her element and she knew it. That had to have been embarrassing and uncomfortable.

    I’d have taken Sura, Lottie, and especially Hermine above Laura any day of the week.

    Props to Matt and Noel. They both are lovely to all the contestants, but particularly rally around them in moments of failure.

  21. ZeeEnnui says:

    I agree that it was tough to see Laura in the finale because she was so out of her depth, but they judge week-to-week and sadly Hermine blew it in the semifinal. While I did find Laura to be a lovely person but irritating contestant, her messy bakes were praised for their taste. In the end, if the bake doesn’t taste good, you’re out, and that’s what happened to Hermine.

    Honestly, I was a bit shocked that Dave didn’t win. I understand that he wasn’t as popular with fans as Peter but he improved dramatically over the course of the season. He took risks, his bakes looked great and his flavors were spot on most of the time. I agree with some of the posters above that Peter (who I also like a lot) was always going to win. He was a favorite of Paul’s, and he was the youngest contestant. I was perfectly happy with his win, but if it were up to me, I’d have awarded it to Dave.

    Also, I love Noel and Matt. Their pep talks and kindness to the contestants when they were struggling in the tent warmed my cold black heart.

  22. Aria says:

    I loved Hermine and was championing her to win. However i have been watching GBBO for 10 years and these are the rules. You’re judged based on how you do that weekend, not how you’ve performed overall. I think it’s unfair to say that Hermine leaving based on her unequivocally disastrous performance in the semis was some sort of discrimination.