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Why Andy Samberg And Maya Rudolph's Baking It Is The Best Feel-Good Entertainment Of 2021

Maya Rudolph watching Andy Samberg laugh on Baking It
(Image credit: Peacock)

Baking competitions tend to be the ultimate feel-good entertainment, as contestants going head-to-head with pies and pastries generally forgo the cut-throat approach of other reality contests and seem less intense even than regular cooking competitions like Top Chef or Chopped (so many knives!). With the continued popularity of series like The Great British Baking Show, more networks are trying to get a piece of that sweet oven action. So with all of the options available to warm your heart this holiday season, I’m here to tell you why Peacock’s Baking It with hosts Andy Samberg and Maya Rudolph should be at the top of your watch list.

However, just because Baking It is themed around the holidays — it’s a quasi-spinoff of Amy Pohler and Nick Offerman’s Making It — don’t be concerned if you don’t get around to streaming it before the new year. Feel-good entertainment isn’t limited to any particular season, and this one is worth watching whenever you can. The expertise of each contestant pairing falls somewhere between Nailed It (terrible bakers) and Sugar Rush (professionals), but even though they're all home bakers, there are definitely some above-average skills in the kitchen. Now let’s take a look at the reasons that Baking It on Peacock is 2021's best feel-good series.

Maya Rudolph dances in fake music video on Baking It.

(Image credit: Peacock)

Andy Samberg And Maya Rudolph’s Musical Background

Fans of Saturday Night Live, or even the fabulous Netflix visual rap album The Unauthorized Bash Brothers should have some idea of what they’re in for with Andy Samberg and Maya Rudolph leading the way as hosts. There’s no way this duo could come together for any kind of show and not bring some kind of musical bit to the table. From their choreographed disco theme song to random interludes to full-on music videos, Samberg and Rudolph are sure to make you break into sing-alongs that don't necessarily make any sense or require you to be on-key.

Their proclivity for music, in fact, serves as a foundation for the stress-free viewing experience. Where many food competition shows focus on the contestants’ frustration over something going wrong or not having enough time to complete a challenge, Baking It goes in the direction of storytelling, with Maya Rudolph and Andy Samberg asking the bakers about their holiday traditions, as well as sharing their own. This often inspires a song or a bit from the hosts, particularly Rudolph and her mastery at keeping a straight face. .

Andy Samberg looks surprisingly amused on Baking It.

(Image credit: Peacock)

Dad Jokes And Master Baking

Baking It is fun for the whole family, don’t get me wrong, but they do toe the line with sophomoric humor. It’s Andy Samberg of The Lonely Island trio and Maya Rudolph from Bridesmaids, so that should be expected. Some of the younger members of your family might not understand Maya Rudolph’s steadfast insistence that the Brooklyn Nine-Nine star not call the contestants “master bakers.” There's also one well-placed “Dick in a Box” reference with the anatomic word bleeped out (which angered my 10-year-old, who really wanted to know what Rudolph said).

But most of the humor is of the “dad joke” milieu, or in the passionate way Maya Rudolph announces the “Big Ole Bakes,” and is wholly connected to the two entertainers' personalities. In the same way music is incorporated to add a unique element and alleviate the pressure of the competition, the humor provides another way for Baking It to be more than scattered-brained chefs freaking out about the ticking clock. In fact, while there is a time limit involved for each of the episode's bakes, there's no clock visible to the viewers at all, completely putting that aspect out of our heads.

The grandmas talk while sitting in their rocking chairs on Baking It.

(Image credit: Peacock)

The Judges Are Grannies In Rocking Chairs

Andy Samberg and Maya Rudolph are there for the laughs, not the hard parts, like eliminating contestants. They leave that up to the “ruthless” judges — four grandmas, who have their own fantastic Samberg-Rudolph original theme song. Their introduction paints the food-smart grandmas as the judgmental, give-it-to-ya-straight portion of the show, but these four women in their rockers and blankets don’t have an ill-willed bone in their bodies. Even when they don’t like a dish's specific flavor or presentation element, they struggle to not follow up such criticisms with, “But maybe that’s just me,” or some other similar qualifier. 

One recurring joy is the grandmas’ attempts at personalized catch phrases, with Bubbe Norma giving “two snaps and a clap” to the dishes she likes the best, while Gigi Sherri rewards her favorites by proclaiming them “Gigi Diggity.” The grannies give bejeweled brooches to the winners — having to dig through their giant purses to find them — while the eliminated contestants can’t leave without a hug. So yeah, everyone wins.

Jonah and Patrick present their dessert for judging on Baking It.

(Image credit: Peacock)

Baking It Will Make You Happy Sob

With everything good this show’s got going on, we haven’t even talked about the heart and soul of a good baking competition — the contestants. The season starts with eight teams of two being taking on challenges baking goods inspired by different holiday traditions. All kinds of duos are represented — father/son, spouses, best friends, sisters — but the best part is the overarching family that the contestants all form with one another, as well as the hosts and grannies. There was even talk of several reuniting for future holidays, such was their fast-acting bonds. 

With the silliness of the hosts and the judges, Baking It doesn’t seem like the obvious place for truly heartfelt moments, but with the bakers being asked to draw inspiration from their personal traditions, their families, their hopes for the future, etc., authentic emotions are bound to surface. One team, husbands Jonah and Patrick, were all about embracing about the importance of chosen families — like the one they found on the show — and reflected on how hard the holidays can be for people whose families don’t accept them for their gender identity or sexuality or other reasons. Multiple times over the season, there was not a dry eye in the house,
and the tissues will definitely be needed when it comes to the eliminations. 

But even though contestants do get sent home, Baking It is still the ultimate in feel-good entertainment of this or any other year, so be sure to check it out when you get some down time over the holidays, or if you need some cheering up anytime in the new year. Between the singing and comedy and camaraderie, Andy Samberg and Maya Rudolph — with help from the bakers and grandmas, of course — will bring a smile to the whole family, even the grinches. Now let's just hope Peacock is cooking up a second season behind the scenes. 

Baking It is streaming now on Peacock, and if you're in the mood for similar shows, check out more of the Best Baking Shows available to stream. Be sure to check out our 2022 TV Schedule to see what’s coming up in the new year.

Heidi Venable

Mom of two and hard-core '90s kid. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Can usually be found rewatching The West Wing instead of doing anything productive.