18 September 2019

Josh Freedman argues that The Great British Bake Off is quietly radical — perhaps a little bit socialist: “The structure of the Bake Off is clearly one of competition. There are judges, time limits, elimination, and, of course, winners. Yet it conspicuously lacks many of the elements we normally associate with competition. The [weekly] title of ‘star baker’ carries no practical value. Star bakers do not get immunity from elimination in the next round, or money, or brownie points from the judges. … For their hard work, [overall] winners receive no money. They don’t get a guaranteed book deal or television show. All they win is a decorative cake stand — and a pretty underwhelming one at that. Yet when contestants reflect on their experience on the show, emotion overwhelms them. They talk about baking the way runners talk about finishing a marathon or setting a new personal best. They are satisfied not because they have pushed others aside and risen to the top, but simply because they are proud of what they have baked.”