Ever watch shows like The Great British Bake Off and think to yourself, “I could never do that but I’d like to try”? Well, taking inspiration from a spate of internet baking fails is Nailed It! – a baking show where the contestants are more likely to burn the house down than whip up a buttercream.
Hosted by comedian Nicole Byer and pastry chef Jacques Torres (as well as a rotating third celebrity judge), Nailed It brings on three bakers each episode who are demonstrably awful at baking. They are then instructed through two rounds to make professional-level intricate cakes that are clearly way beyond their abilities, with the sole purpose appearing to be so that we can point and laugh at their invariably awful and frequently inedible creations.
There is something just so mean spirited about the entire concept of Nailed It. The contestants are all lovely and seem to take the abuse they get with good spirit. Nicole’s brand of comedy commentary is of the ‘loud and brash’ ilk that is carefully designed to never be personal or offensive but is still hooting at the awful results of genuine efforts nonetheless.
For this clutch of holiday episodes, the season’s greetings are obvious themes. So we have Jewish menorah, Dr. Seuss inspired cake designs, a 3D two-faced Scrooge cake, and cakes featuring mining elves digging up ‘coal’. If you want to get into the Christmas spirit then there is certainly enjoyment in looking at the detailed and glorious designs that our hapless bakers are then sent away to make. Sadly, that is the one tasty mouthful in an otherwise ruined confection.
Nailed It also shoots itself in the foot with an inherently repetitive format. There is no large clutch of bakers gradually whittled down as they work to up their game as in Sugar Rush. Each episode is the same structure of three new bakers given two difficult designs. This means that very quickly the show enters into ‘seen one, seen them all’ territory. Differing celebrity judges do little to add any extra interest.
There is a ‘panic’ button feature which can summon Torres for some help, and an alternating ‘interference’ button given to the ‘worst’ baker that will allow them to hinder the other bakers for a few minutes by virtue of snowball fights or joke readings, etc but as this is so short a moment it’s hardly worth tuning in episode after episode to experience.
Unlike Bake Off, for example, where glory is the main reward, Nailed It actually offers $10,000 to the ‘least bad’ baker. So it’s even more fist gnawingly awkward as the seemingly lovely people that the producers pull onto the show talk about wanting to pay off debts or go on holiday with a loved one, and yet get their car crash efforts be mocked as culinary abominations.
Nailed It was a horrible chore to get through. Any amusement it offers is in-your-face obvious and passes quickly. As Christmas viewing, this holiday season offers up some wonderful looking professional cakes, but unless mocking those trying hard is what you want from Santa’s sack then Nailed It can only be a charred lump of coal in your stocking this year.
Words by Michael Record