Baking

Is it cake? Review – Netflix’s New Baking Contest Is Kinda Good

Netflix has a new hit show. The baking competition Is it cake? is currently the number one series on the platform. I had planned to write an angry tirade about how awful this is. My arrows were sharp, my bow taut and my hands steady as I prepared my shot. I would aim for the show’s cutesyness, its sheer idiocy, its angry audacity to be so cutesy and silly. I imagined myself hammering on my keyboard: How dare Netflix bait what’s left of our Covid-altered attention spans with this catnip. You see, dear reader, Is it cake? is based on a popular instagram video from 2020 which depicted someone cutting into what appeared to be a Crocs sandal but was, in fact, a cake. Like my colleague Justin Kirkland written at the time, the viral video was symbolic of our collective loss. But where others saw madness, Netflix executives saw $$$, so they took the two-second meme and stretched it like Laffy Taffy on an eight-episode baking show. The nerve! The naked opportunism of it all! It could have been the title: Netflix’s Naked Opportunism Is it cake?


You bet your mirror glaze would conjure up how repetitive each episode is, how there are no stakes involved in competing, and how unfun it is to watch someone turn a cake into a bowling ball. Mystery is what makes cakes that mimic real-life objects appeal! Showing us how it’s done spoils the fun. And after? A docuseries that explains how a magician pulls a rabbit out of his hat? I would have spent at least 250 words on how Is it cake? manages to ruin both the cake and the non-cake stuff. And I would have budgeted an extra 50 words for complaints about the design of the show. Is it cakeThe decor looks like a showroom of Ikea kitchens displayed in the middle of a gigantic theater of black boxes. Also, why do set pieces have to move? Does the “wall of cakes” really need to turn? It’s not The price is right. Finally, after putting Is it cake? in its rightful place alongside other national embarrassments like flavor of love and The apprentice, I would call for a restoration of sanity and a return to the prestige drama era of television. Imagine me playing politics from the podium: This is the nation of Mad Men and Breaking Bad!

Yeah, I was really gonna leave Is it cake? to see her.

Turns out, not all baking competitions have to be held in a tent.

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But then something really unfortunate happened. Towards the end of the first episode, the show’s host, Saturday Night Live Cast member Mikey Day made me laugh. I hadn’t expected to experience joy during this silly series. “Ohh, it’s melting!” he exclaimed with feigned enthusiasm as he read a “How to Cook” book upside down. Silly, silly bits like this get to me every time. No big deal, I thought to myself, one funny moment can’t save the whole series. But Day proved to be a charming host on several occasions. He is funny, kind, creative and, above all, well aware of the scandalous character Is it cake? East. The manic energy he brings to the role of emcee is oddly relatable. It’s like he can’t believe you’re watching this show either. Is Day just good at playing a comedian on the verge of a nervous breakdown? Where are Is it cake? viewers who actually watch a comedian try to smile and laugh during a nervous breakdown? The question turns Is it cake? in fascinating must-see television.

Competitors too, now that I think about it. They are so nice, especially Andrew, the baker from Iowa with the swirling neon green hair. He looks like the Grinch but has the personality of Santa Claus. Also, is it just me or does the whole thing grow on you? The rotating stage is not camping; it’s festive! Not all baking competitions have to take place in a tent. I’ll tell you one thing: I bet the soundstage was at least air-conditioned. And you know what? Some of these bakers are quite impressive. I would eat April’s sewing machine cooked in the series finale, even if it weren’t a piece of cake. Everyone gets along too! They are so supportive. They even have jokes between them! I love how competing bakers take the time to explain the basics, like the differences between modeling chocolate and fondant… Wait a minute. What is happening? What is this feeling? do i like Is it cake? Shit, Mikey Day, you opened the floodgates! What was once a fountain of rage has turned into a tsunami of joy. I can’t believe this beach ball isn’t piece of cake! How did she make this cheeseburger bun look toasty? Who have I become?

One of the millions of people who love Is it cake? I imagine. And you probably will too, for better or for worse.

Watch “Is This Piece of Cake?”

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