It takes a lot to turn me off to a reality television cooking show. I religious watch them, every one from Top Chef to The Next Food Next Work Star. It doesn't take much to get me hooked, but it does take quite a failure of a show to make me turn it off. TLC's Cake Boss: Next Great Baker is one of those shows.
Next Great Baker is a spin-off of TLC's hit series, Cake Boss. That show follows Hoboken, Nersey-based baker, Buddy Valastro, and his enormous and interchangeable Italian family as they prepare self-described amazing cakes at Buddy's father's bakery, Carlo's Bakery. That show has aired for three seasons, beginning in 2009, and has increased tourism to the Hoboken area with its popularity.
Because of the popularity of that show, TLC decided it would be a good idea to give Buddy a reality TV spinoff. In Next Great Baker, bakers battle each other in a series of challenges to ultimately win $100,000 cash, a four-page spread in Brides magazine and an apprenticeship with Buddy at his bakery. Each episode features two challenges, a quick-timed baker's challenge and a longer, two-day elimination challenge.
The show is ultimately unsuccessful because of Buddy and his rotating family members' inarticulateness. The first rule in cooking shows is being able to make viewers' mouths water with vivid verbal descriptions of the food that is being eaten. But Buddy seems to have forgotten that his viewers can't actually eat the cakes. He and his family describe the bakers' creations with Neanderthal critiques like, "I like this," "I don't like this," and "This cake could be in our bake shop."
To make up for their lack of mastery of culinary descriptors, Buddy and his family are simply cruel. For one challenge, he made the contestants inexplicably skate their bakery creations out to the middle of an ice rink, and had his family taste-test it from there. When contestants did not make the most successful cake in another episode, he had his family members cut the cakes down the middle with a buzz saw. Each eliminated contestant rides away from the set in the back of a box truck emblazoned with the logo Not the Next Great Baker.
But, as you can perhaps tell, I still tune in because there is no other show on to watch. This seems to be TLC's--The Learning Channel!--modus operandi: make everyone feel like a complete moron for watching their programming. And yet, we keep tuning in.