Every human being who’s ever had a Pinterest account with a recipe board will find this show relatable as heck. I’m a bit of a baker in my downtime, and I’ve been known to tear the kitchen up in my quest to make strawberry cakes and banana nut bread (among other baked treats). Sometimes it goes very well (like when I introduced the fam to my Death by Chocolate Cake). Sometimes, however, I end up with the edible version of Frankenstein’s monster. It’s a toss up. Netflix’s Nailed It perfectly taps into the enthusiasm and cluelessness of amateurs in a way that has mass appeal.
The show works by selecting three contestants and assigning them the task of recreating a baked item originally created by a professional. The grand prize is $10,000, a trophy, and most importantly: bragging rights. The instructions are clear, if a little scant, and it quickly becomes apparent that there’s more to baking than dumping ingredients into a pan. It’s delightful. My favorite quote from the show is from episode two, where the contestants have been challenged to recreate pirate-themed jelly donuts. It doesn’t work out well for any of them, and as one of the contestants reveals her creation to the judges she informs them: “I created three tired, psychedelic pirates.” I don’t think any moment on any baking show has ever been more relatable.
The show is hosted by Nicole Byer, who has a quick sense of humor and easily establishes a lighthearted camaraderie with the contestants and the guest judges. She moves things along and seems to be genuinely enjoying herself, and that enthusiasm appears to resonate with everyone else on set. Hosts can really make or break a show. Nicole Byer nails it. She’s aided by recurring guest chef Jacques Torres, who really blossoms as the episodes progress. The two make an entertaining duo, offering quips and commentary while the contestants scurry about their workstations making a fine mess of things.
Groundbreaking television, this is not. It’s just fun, plain and simple. More than that, it’s relatable. Most of us know what it’s like to get in the kitchen, intent on a masterpiece, only to reach the final stages and find ourselves wondering “what even is this?” and, in some truly heinous cases, “is this even edible?” This show definitely made me feel better about some of my own culinary shortcomings, so even if you don’t want to watch it for fun you can try watching it for the self-esteem boost.