Why The Great British Baking Show Is One Of The Best Reality Shows On TV

Great British Baking Show Noel, Sandi, Prue, and Paul holding desserts

Whether you call it The Great British Bake Off, as it's titled in the UK, or by its more Pillsbury friendly moniker The Great British Baking Show, this reality TV show phenomenon is one of the best examples of its genre on TV to date. There’s several reasons why this claim is easy to buy into, as this 10-seasons-strong delight has made quite a unique impression on viewers from all walks of life.

In a market that sees a certain mold of show hoisted above all others as a standard bearer, it’s important to talk out how this stealth success truly is the best reality TV show that’s being aired. And we’ll start with one of the most fundamental reasons why The Great British Baking Show is, in fact, the freshest of the reality TV bunch.

Great British Baking Show Paul cuts a cake while Prue, Sandi, and Noel watch

The Competition Is The Star Of The Great British Baking Show

While shows like Survivor and The Amazing Race show off the cunning and physical prowess of the contestants; and shows like The Bachelor/ette display dramatic courtship as their claim to fame, The Great British Baking Show is all about one thing and one thing only: competition in the world of baking.

As we get to know each participant in The Great British Baking Show, we not only learn about their personalities and backgrounds, but we also learn about how they compete against expectations and their particular skill sets. Even more refreshing is the fact that when it comes to this specific competition, fellow contestants aren’t above helping each other out of tight spots.

Great British Baking Show Steph, Alice, and David holding hands in front of the finale crowd

Contestants Are Helpful And Polite, Rather Than Petty And Dramatic

Rather than shouting at each other, or putting down each other’s work and reveling in misfortune, there have been plenty of times where contestants from The Great British Baking Show have helped their fellow bakers when time is running out. Support runs strong throughout the lineup, right down to the final episode of any season in question.

Even something as simple as words of encouragement, or a shoulder to cry on when the pressure is too great, are offered on The Great British Baking Show. There’s even a standing tradition where all of the previous contestants from the season in progress come back for the grand finale, as a big celebration for who eventually wins.

Great British Baking Show Noel and Sandi announcing to the bakers

The Great British Baking Show Hosts Are Encouraging And Entertaining

Whether you’re watching The Great British Baking Show’s Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc or The Great British Bake Off’s Noel Fielding and Sandi Toksvig mixing it up with the contestants in their respective incarnations, there’s always a sort of impish glee and comforting support that connects the hosts to the bakers they’re interviewing.

You can see it in The Great British Baking Show’s more recent hosting pair, Noel and Sandi, as they’re always there to lighten the spirits in the baking tent with some comedic patter. Plus, there’s even been reports that whenever there’s a take that shows the contestants emotionally distraught, hosts like Sue and Mel would use “unairable language,” or even hide said contestant with their coats – just so it’s not used in the final show.

Great British Baking Show Paul and Prue sitting in the tent

Judges On The Great British Baking Show Criticize The Contestants Constructively

That’s not to say that The Great British Baking Show isn’t serious about what it does. In fact, part of the comedy comes from the fact that judges like Paul Hollywood, Prue Leith, and former judge Mary Berry are quite stern and proper when it comes to evaluating baked goods. And why wouldn’t they be? They’re the experts that are supposed to decide who the best baker in Britain happens to be, so it’s par for the course.

But rather than being the outlandish sort of reality TV judges you’d expect, with personalities as sharp as their knives, The Great British Baking Show’s experts are pure professionals. There’s room for a little bit of snark, and some playful banter, for sure. Though when it comes down to business, Paul and Prue are all about giving bakers the feedback they need to do better and keep themselves in the game.

Great British Baking Show Paul, Prue, Noel, and Sandy walking to the tent

The Lush Setting Of The English Countryside Is Soothing

In most reality TV shows, you get sizzle reels of exciting and exotic locales to spice things up and keep the tempo flowing. To a certain extent The Great British Baking Show does that same sort of thing, only instead of using the bumpers to jazz up the show’s drama, it soothes the audience with pastoral vistas of the English countryside.

There’s always prime footage of bees, sheep, and other creatures that roam the grounds of wherever The Great British Baking Show sets its tent down for a particular season. All of which helps anchor the competition in a more realistic context, setting the pace of the show to a manageable crawl rather than a slam bang race to the finish. Not to mention, who doesn’t love watching sheep in the countryside?!

Great British Baking Show Paul and Prue flank new winner David in the finale

Pride In Hard Work Is The Ultimate Reward On The Great British Baking Show

Ultimately, with the contestants’ personalities well enforced without drama, the hosts and the judges being constructive and supportive, and the overall setting portrayed as quaint and beautiful, The Great British Baking Show has one prize to offer to its audience and its bakers: pride.

There’s no cash prize or really any tangible reward to speak of when someone wins The Great British Baking Show, other than their hard earned rise to the top is shown for the world to see in its entirety. While previous winners, and even contestants who didn’t make it to the finale, have seen a bump in publicity, and offers for cookbooks and other opportunities for celebrity, it all comes down to what was shown on the screen.

Success for contestants of The Great British Baking Show, as well as the series itself, comes from the hard work that it revels in displaying. It’s why the series is so popular with its fans, as it’s a reality TV show with a more humane angle in mind. Drama and deception aren’t the tools in trade, but rather baking pans and flour.

It’s easy to root for everyone in The Great British Baking Show’s tent, as all the contestants are relatable, and it’s hard to pick a favorite. No matter who wins or loses, no matter whose bakes turn out to be a disaster one week and the talk of the tent the next, the show never forgets its kindness and spirit of curiosity.

So if you’re looking for a show that scratches the reality TV itch, but does so in the best way possible, head over to Netflix and watch The Great British Baking Show, in its beautiful entirety. Just be prepared for weekly drops once you’ve caught up, as the most recent seasons are usually aired on a more broadcast friendly basis.

Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.