British Baking Show’s Popularity Indicates Yearning for Values

British Baking Show’s Popularity Indicates Yearning for Values

Great British Baking Show on PBS | Review by Ken Walker WriterThe Great British Baking Show has been around since 2010. However, judging by a mid-February article in World magazine, my wife and I are not alone in only recently discovering this delightful series.

The story led off the magazine’s “Culture” section in the Feb. 17 issue. It talked about the legion of fans surrounding judges Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry—the latter a spry 80-something who has to be one of the most pleasant culinary judges ever.

Thanks to continuing episodes on PBS and a catalog of back episodes via Netflix, writer Megan Basham told of so many viewers flocking to the show that ABC is rumored to be considering signing up the pair for an American version.

Discovering a Gem

We discovered the British bakers thanks to a recommendation about six months ago from a friend in Florida. When I checked our library’s online catalog, alas, nothing there.

However, in a recent browse through the video stacks, there it was: season 2. Figuring it wasn’t like a continuing storyline where you want to start with the first season, I grabbed it.

It didn’t take long to make it through that season. Since they had season 2, I assumed (correctly) that they would have season 1.

The day I returned it, I asked if they could order additional episodes, since the show is up to season 8. Words like “delightful,” “engaging,” “fast-paced” and “captivating” all apply.

As noted in World, instead of undermining and plotting against each other—a practice characterizing the American baking shows I’ve seen—contestants cheer each one another on even as they seek to do their best.

Common Culture

Basham identified another factor for its popularity, commenting, “Maybe it grew so popular because it illustrates the common culture we all share at a time when we feel so politically divided from our neighbors.”

However, I think it goes deeper than that. The groundswell around the British bakers is a bit of a canary-in-the-coal-mine incident.

It indicates that, deep down, millions of Americans are sick of the preening, self-centered, nasty, braggadocios, competitive, out-shout-your-opponent ethic that seems to characterize today’s politics, entertainment, and other arenas.

That may grab TV/online ratings and attention, but in reality most of us don’t live like that and aren’t drawn to such behavior.

Nor do we care for the grandstanding and too-often-seen-as-popular habit of grinding someone who doesn’t agree with your opinion into a pulp.

Disdain for Coarseness

British Baking Show's Popularity Indicates Yearning for Values | By Ken Walker WriterThe Great British Baking Show’s surge to popularity is only one piece of evidence I have noticed lately of the disdain many of us share for coarse culture.

Although it appeared last August, I only recently read about the Washington Post’s story on the Hallmark Channel ranking as the fourth most-watched TV channel during prime time.

“It’s feel-good TV,” wrote Heather Long. “There’s no sex or gore. Hallmark movies and series like When Calls the Heart and Chesapeake Shores have happy endings.

“The main characters do the right thing” (which sounds like an anomaly compared to the typical network/cable/online show).

In addition, the latest issue of a newsletter I get from Hollywood talked about the development of programming for social media viewing.

The note that caught my eye concerned Facebook’s lack of interest in any shows that include political drama, news, or shows featuring nudity or rough language.

Such developments show me that a tsunami of wholesome values is just waiting to overcome the distasteful behavior that has held sway for too long. Bye, bye, boorish behavior. Hello Hallmark.

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