Cooking competition shows are the best. It’s fun to sit back and watch the intense Top Chef or its complete opposite, the ultra-calm Great British Bake Off. But all of those cooking shows tend to be aspirational. Which is exactly the reason you should be watching Netflix’s Nailed It instead. Seriously, you should not sleep on this baking show that celebrates failure, because it’s hilarious in so many ways. Each episode has three contestants who aren’t great home bakers. They’re not even great home cooks, like on Master Chef or Chopped. They’re literally people whose friends and family describe their baking as “terrible.”
“Everything I bake tastes good,” one contestant hopefully offers in her introduction package. But the trick of baking is that things have to look pretty, too, which is often the hardest part. And a lot of times on the show, the results look and taste awful. The judges are comedian Nicole Byer who holds things down, pastry chef Jacques Torres, and then a special guest who happens to be a pro-baker or Instagram and YouTube sensation. There are two challenges each time — one in which “Bakers Choose” a small project like a cupcake or emoji cake and try to copy it and then a final challenge to recreate some elaborate, massive cake. Whoever fails the least wins $10,000.
The show is already a fan-favorite, but in case you’re not convinced, there are so many reasons to watch Nailed It that have nothing to do with entertainment or baking and everything to do with living your best life:
1Failing can be fun.
As a society, we’re getting better at talking about failure, but we really don’t do it enough. And sometimes, when someone is a failure on TV, it’s because they’re a “hot mess” or have some other fatal flaw that keeps them in the same hamster wheel. But in real life, failure is just part of the learning process and usually doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you. (Unless, of course, you mix up the salt and sugar in your cake batter.) Torres told Refinery 29 that that’s what drew him to the show:
2Laughing at yourself is a life skill.
Of course, we all take ourselves seriously. But sometimes we do things so ridiculous that there’s nothing left to do but laugh. Whether it’s not being able to recreate a princess cake or nail a job interview. Balance is always important, but having a sense of humor about the less-than-perfect moments you’d never Instagram is something that will draw good energy to you, we’re convinced.
3Being wrong is not life-threatening.
A lot of the drama on some of the more competitive cooking shows comes from people who refuse to admit they’re wrong. Like, a contestant telling Tom Colicchio that his salmon is cooked when it clearly isn’t or Gordon Ramsey spitting out a 10-year-old’s mac and cheese. Even Mary Berry’s disappointment every time she says “soggy bottom” feels so…important. In all three cases, being “wrong” is turned into something you have to be upset or ashamed about. Or, worst case, feel like you have to defend yourself against, even when you know darn well raw chicken is not something you serve.
On Nailed It, the cooks often just say out loud when they have no idea what they’re doing or mumble, “I’m just guessing here,” and it’s somehow the most refreshing thing. It’s something we don’t see a lot of these days.
4Always ask for help.
In the final challenge, each contestant has a “Panic Button” they can press to call in one of the judges to help them for three minutes. They’re allowed to ask for a advice on technique, moral support, or even to distract their opponents. The worst contestant from the first challenge also gets a “Freezer Burn” to use during the second one to get ahead. When they press it, all of the other contestants have to Zack Morris-style freeze while they can keep working and get ahead. It’s a good reminder that you don’t have to “just deal” and that asking for support or advice will only make you better. Unless you really have no idea how to make cake pops, in which case you’re out of luck.
If you aren’t shipping Wes, the not-so-helpful PA, and Nicole by the time you’re through with the episodes, you’re doing it wrong. Who knew a baking show about massive baking fails could be so good?