Competitive Baking

Do you care about the Great British Bake Off? If you don’t, feel free to ignore this post. It is highly inconsequential and mostly about smug backwards-reading prognostication. If you do care – if you’ve been watching and gasping, squealing, oohing and ahhing, then you’ve probably cultivated your own favourites. And I hope, if you’re like me, your favourites are still going strong after passing yesterday’s quarter-final.

It’s not sensible that I should actually like the programme as I do. I had a long, slow disengagement with TV that started when I was still in high school. By the time I had graduated, all I watched was the news, CFL football, and reruns of Northern Exposure on A&E. When I got my own place in the second year of my undergraduate degree, my roommate and I agreed that cooking and playing music were much more important than the screen, and I’ve been without a TV ever since. My wife, fortunately, shared this sensibility.

Despite not watching it, I’ve been pretty comfortable in scorning it, in a lofty, high-culture sort of way. And my biggest sneers have been reserved for reality TV, though since the “reality” of such TV has been so thoroughly debunked, broadcasters have had to come up with alternate categories such as “factual entertainment.” More fabricated than factual, if you ask me, and the competition shows brought out the worst, it seemed. These instant-singer-sensation shows really pissed me off, as an aspiring songwriter and performer. But I could treat it as water off a duck’s back: know it for what it is, accept it for the profit-generating mechanism the broken industry requires, and know that it is inconsequential for what I want to do.

Then we moved to Britain. Then we discovered the BBC iPlayer. Then we relaxed after working, parenting, and studying by choosing quality from among the dross and watching it more or less on our time rather than the canalised settings of terrestrial television. Continue reading