Sticking with the baking competition theme, Netflix has followed up its acquisition of “Zumbo’s Just Desserts” with an original six-part series based loosely (enough that they don’t have to credit it) on the phenomenon of Cake Wrecks. Famously one of those sites you can spend hours on, laughing until the tears stream down your face, “Nailed It!” sets out to create more Cake Wrecks by providing a platform, not for the best amateur bakers the producers could find, but the most amateur bakers they can find.
“Nailed It!” sees three home bakers with poor track records have a go at recreating cakes and sweet treats for a $10,000 prize. Each episode is split into two challenges over the course of the half-hour show, the first being ‘Baker’s Choice’, where the contestants pick one of three confectionery treats and try to recreate it. Winning this challenge gets a special prize and the trying-hard-to-be-coveted golden chef’s hat. The second challenge – “Nail It or Fail It” is where things get serious as the contestant try to recreate a show-stopping cake, with various degrees of success.
The show is fronted by comedienne Nicole Byer and the head judge is noted chocolatier Jacques Torres. The set and production values are cheap and cheerful but Byer fills the studio with a sassy and infectious energy and humour while Torres has bags of Gallic charm and warmth. Together, the two of them more often seem like giggling school chums rather than the hosts of a cooking competition and the show is all the better for it.
The guest judges are more of a mixed bag, with a new one dropping in for each episode. Celebrated cake designer Sylvia Weinstock, in episode one, is great value though, making you wish she’d stick around for the whole series but nothing comes close to the moment, later in the series, when the guest judge suddenly remembers he has to pick his kids up from school and leaves the taping of the show, returning later with apology Frappuccinos. It adds to the sense of shoestring budget and also the sense of mischievous fun. As you’d expect, the contestants’ offerings range from adequate to hilariously inept but the show manages to never be nasty or mean-spirited and everyone takes it in good fun.
Six episodes is far too short a run for a series this fun and while it provides a light and refreshing amuse bouche in between Netflix’s meatier fare, hopefully, this adorable little series will find a strong enough audience to convince the streaming giant to bring it back for a second, longer run next time.