The morning and evening news in Indianapolis is usually filled with stories about shootings, child abuse, drug offenses, and murders. It is becoming harder each day to watch these news broadcasts. I find myself purposely looking for positive displays of humanity throughout the day in the outside world, on social media, in newspapers and magazines, and even on television, where I recently found a ray of positivity on a very dark day.
The Netflix original series Nailed It! is a quirky reality show baking competition in which three home bakers compete to replicate a professional’s stunning creation, such as a perfectly crafted yellow fondant-covered and decorated emoji cake, in the hopes of winning a $10,000 prize. In addition to being of a positive nature, Nailed It! is humorous with some silliness woven into the show.
Nailed It! competitors, judges, and viewers all know there is absolutely no way anyone outside of a professional can nail the final round’s showstopper creation. This does not keep home bakers from trying. When the contestants fall short in some way, the judges avoid criticizing their efforts. Instead, all three judges compliment the contestants on some aspect of their baking or decorating skills or on their ability to persevere in the face of setbacks.
Another aspect that separates Nailed It! from other baking competitions is that there are no eliminations during judging. Contestants who fare poorly in the first round are generally given extra help, such as a panic button, in the second and final round. One of the three judges will jump in to assist competitors who activate their panic buttons and reassure the panicked contestants that everything will be alright before returning to the judges’ table. Savvy contestants covertly listen in during these panic-mode conversations in the hope of gaining an upper-hand during the competition.
Nailed It! judges Nicole Byer and Chef Jacques Torres are joined by a different guest judge each new episode. Past judges have included American cake queen Sylvia Weinstock, whose signs each of her cake creations with a small edible pair of large round glasses that resemble her own spectacles, and Israeli pastry chef Ron Ben-Israel, who is known for his beautiful sugar paste flower decorations and gorgeous celebration cakes. Both Weinstock and Ben-Israel created masterpieces that contestants on the show had to recreate in a lot less time than the originals took to make, yet both judges were patient with and kind to the contestants whose amateur work was being compared to their own professional work.
Byer is an American improv comedian and actress who brags on the show that she is very good at being annoying, which is perfect for the final rounds in which a contestant wins the advantage of Byer distracting the other contestants for three minutes each. Byer instigated a running gag on the show in which the trophy is brought out to the judges by assistant director Weston “Wes” Bahr after Byer usually shouts, “Where’s Wes!?” Judges and viewers of the show never know when and where Wes will pop up with the winner’s Nailed It! trophy.
Torres, known as “Mr. Chocolate,” is a master pastry chef, chocolatier, and cookbook author. He owes a chain of chocolate shops in New York City along with a museum that offers chocolate making classes. Torres speaks with a French accent, which a season one female contestant on the show found highly attractive yet distracting.
According to a July 17 interview between Byer and Torres and Vulture.com reporter Jen Chaney, an hour or more of filming will be edited down to the roughly 30 minute episode that is aired on Netflix. Both Byer and Torres stated in this interview that they try to be honest without hurting anyone’s feelings and without being harsh to the contestants. Their intention is evident even after editing occurs.
Nailed It! is a shining example of positivity in a society of ever-increasing negativity and rudeness. Season one and two, which consist of six episodes each that run about 30 minutes apiece, are available on Netflix. Watch an episode or two on those days when a good laugh is needed, for a reminder that politeness still exists in our world, or to witness everyday people overcoming adverse situations without giving up.