At any point in time, there is usually one television show that I will go to for my background noise. Whether I am writing, working, cleaning, or just needing to relax, it’s a show that can just be a calming white noise in the back of my conscious attention. Currently, that show is the series of “The Great British Baking Show (Bake Off)” that is hosted by Netflix, which I think is series 5 or sommat (yeah, my partial Britishness is showing through). I LOVE this show! I kid you not, I have watched this one season of the show at least ten times through. I watched it when it aired on PBS originally and was delighted when it showed up on Netflix. It has become the one show that I will happily and consistently watch at any point in time. And I’ll probably make you watch it, too.
This past Christmas, I gave the American version of the show, “The Great Holiday Baking Show”, a fair shake but didn’t enjoy it nearly as much. Not by a long shot. Now, I could mark that to the fact that…well…British accents (English, Scottish, Welsh, Irish) just make anything better. But that would be a purely superficial reason. No. The reason that I love TGBBS is, I have discovered, because of the community and the way it is portrayed and shown. These people aren’t just contestants; these people are one big family, even though their number gets smaller week by week. They are fun, they are delightful, they are funny, they are supportive, encouraging, and helpful towards each other. They meet their challenges head-on and with high hopes (if there is groaning, grimacing, or grumbling, it is forgivingly on the cutting room floor), even if they have never heard of a princesstorte in their life (“Never seen it, never eaten it”) or if, at the end of an episode, they vow that they “will never wrap another pear in pastry again”. No matter what, they support each other. Each person who wins Star Baker is met with resounding applause and “well done’s”; those who have had a rough day are given support by their teammates (yeah, they call themselves a team, not competitors); and those who go home are met with hugs, “we’ll miss you’s”, compliments of their skill, and assurances that they will continue to make absolutely splendid creations in their future. Seventeen-year-old Martha, the youngest ever contestant on the show as of that particular season, was assured by Sue Perkins, upon her leaving the show, “you will rule the world, my darling”. And what seventeen-year-old doesn’t need to hear such confident encouragement and faith in them? And then, at the finale episode, everyone came back to cheer on the finalists and celebrate their success with them.
I love this! This…THIS is my heart for community! My heart for people, the vision of community that I am trying to foster and build in my life. A community of people–real, living, trying-their-best, imperfect people: family, friends, fellow hobbyists, peers. I want a world where we each do our best with the gifts that we have been given, where we encourage, cheer on, and clap for others even when they do better than we do, where we help each other through our stressful, difficult moments with no thought to ulterior motive, listen and/or offer comfort in mournful moments, and rejoice riotously with each other in our successes (and, yes, believe me, you will have them).
As Jen Hatmaker might say: for the love of sweet (baked) community, this is what I want! This is what life and love and relationship are about for me.