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.
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