Nailed It: Netflix’s baking fails show didn’t quite nail it

Ten minutes into episode one of the less-than impressive Nailed It and I’m wondering what I’m doing with my life. After all, I could be re-watching the brilliant Queer Eye or Brooklyn 99 instead.

For those not in the know, Nailed It is Netflix’s answer to Bake Off. Or rather, it’s the anti-Bake Off. Based on those hilarious baking fails strewn across the internet, it sees novice bakers tasked with recreating baking masterpieces, with the expected results.

Here’s a basic rundown of how it works. In the first round, called Bakers’ Choice, three novice bakers go head to head to recreate one of three items – they’ve got to be quick on their feet to get the one they want. The winner of round one is presented with a baking-related prize, and a garish gold baker’s hat, which they get to wear for the second challenge.

The slates are wiped clean and the contestants are presented with a more complex challenge in the ‘Nail it or fail it’ round. For added fun, the bakers have panic buttons, which award them three minutes of advice with one of the two expert judges. The loser of round one gets an additional button, which sees their competitors placed at a disadvantage for three minutes. After judging, the winner is awarded with a cash prize of $10,000 which is blasted over them by a money gun.

It’s got some fun characters and the concept is interesting – after all everyone thinks they could do it better themselves – but for a simple Brit, Nailed It is far too brash, loud and gimmicky; driven, in part, by host Nicole Byer. She’s no Mary Berry. Nicole is joined by chocolatier Jacques Torres and a guest judge, which in episode one is cake designer Sylvia Weinstock.

Also, if you thought Bake Off was full of innuendos, you’ve seen nothing yet… from ‘just the tip’ to ‘nice little cake logs’ and even an unsettling visual of a finger cake pop going into a ring cake pop. Mel and Sue wouldn’t have gone that far.

In the first episode, the trio of contestants – Heather, Elena and Michael – are tasked with making vodka cake pops in the shapes of broken hearts, mouths (complete with tongue) and the aforementioned finger and engagement ring. In the intro, Heather confesses she can’t bake but believes doing so will make her a better mum. The cookies she pulls out of the oven for her kids are questionable. Elena prefers the ‘bake and drink’ method (which is probably where she’s going wrong), while Michael wishes to add baking to his repertoire of skills.

First off, they didn’t even have to bake the cake, just mash it into some buttercream, shape and decorate. But even that proved to be too difficult. The resulting ‘cake pops’ were, ahem, interesting. Elena was asked if her broken heart had been ripped out of an actual human, while Sylvia took it upon herself to kiss the pair of lips. It must have been decent because their creator, Heather, won the challenge and a stand mixer.

On to challenge two. The bakers were given two hours to recreate one of Sylvia’s three-tier wedding cakes with buttercream, stencilled detail and edible flowers. It did not end well. From bright blue frosting, instead of a duck egg blue, to leaning cakes and “dreadful flowers”. To add insult to injury, the contestants were required to proclaim “nailed it” as they unveil their creations.

No one was expecting miracles and, honestly, given more time the resultant cakes probably would have been more respectable. A decent cake underneath saw Elena secure the trophy and money.

I made it through episode two as well, although I won’t bore you with the details. Although watching grandma Amanda attempt to colour and ice a doughnut like a pirate was a genuinely funny moment – her hands and rings were black from food colouring and the resulting doughnut wouldn’t have been out of place in a modern art exhibition.

It was a blur of pink, white and black. She tried to sell it as “three tired psychedelic pirates”, but the laughter from the judges suggested they didn’t buy it.

There are six episodes in total, which I believe culminates in contestants creating an edible bust of Donald Trump. But you have to make it that far. I won’t.

Next time I find myself at a loose end, scrolling through the endless options on Netflix, I'll save myself some time and watch Queer Eye.

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