For all the years I’ve watched and covered, loved and rooted for The Great British Baking Show on Netflix, I’ve simply assumed I was in a one-sided relationship. Sure, I obsessed over the nitty gritty of Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith‘s judging, the show’s penchant for ridiculous off-color puns, and some of the more disappointing challenges, but I was a lone observer. The Great British Baking Show and its jester-like hosts were blithely unaware of my existence. I was just another American critic pounding away at her keyboard and stalking contestants on Instagram.
But now I’m convinced that The Great British Baking Show host Matt Lucas was personally trolling me during “Custard Week” and I want to slide into oblivion, never to consider the merits of sponge, pastry, or custard again. Matt Lucas’s accursed “time call out” joke in this week’s The Great British Baking Show felt pointedly directed at me, you, and anyone else who has ever think the words” “Noel Fielding and Matt Lucas’s chaotic time callouts are stressing the bakers out and I don’t like that.”
About nine minutes into The Great British Baking Show “Custard Week,” Matt Lucas tells his fellow co-host Noel Fielding, “So the show’s been getting a few letters of complaint. We’ve been stressing the bakers out a little bit with our time calls. And we need to be a little bit more soothing. So I’ve been practicing, okay? A kind of soothing time call.” Noel nods and since I can tell this is one of their bits, I brace myself for something horrible to happen. And it does.
After a beat, Matt shrieks in the most obnoxious voice imaginable: “Bakers, you have half an hour left!”
Janusz shudders, Maxy nervously giggles, and Syabira says to herself, “Let’s not panic just yet.”
The message The Great British Baking Show sent with that joke was loud and clear: they know I hate Noel and Matt’s callouts and they don’t care.
Okay, so to be fair, Matt didn’t say that a lone TV critic in New York City has been complaining about their time calls for years on a website called Decider. He specifically said the show has received “letters of complaint.” Meaning I am not alone. I am not the only one who has raised their voice in objection to the injustice I have seen in The Great British Baking Show tent. Others have written to the show. We are dozens, maybe!!! Fear us! For we are mild-mannered people who simply write letters and blog posts about how we want two British comedians to be a little less funny and a tad more considerate to some bakers in a tent!!!
We now know that Matt Lucas and Noel Fielding have been told that some of us would like a little less silliness and a tad more sincerity with their time calls. In return, Matt Lucas takes this information and basically trolls us. He gifts us with the most obnoxious time call as a retort. On the one hand, I have to hand it to him. A totally clever response to criticism is to double down on what’s being criticized. On the other hand, I’m frustrated that the main complaint of the critique has been ignored: how these antics might affect the bakers.
While The Great British Baking Show is still a supremely comforting watch, it’s becoming more and more clear that its glory days are in the past. Blame the talent shakeups or the show’s behemoth hold on the culture. The point is this version of The Great British Baking Show isn’t the one we fell in love with years ago. And if Matt Lucas’s time call joke told me anything, it’s that the producers know the tone of the show has shifted and don’t care.
The Great British Baking Show is officially embracing the chaos.
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