March is already shaping up to be a very good month for TV. Here are recommendations for three shows to check out this weekend, plus a roundup of the week’s entertainment news and food-related Oscars gossip:
Netflix’s ‘Nailed It’ turns cake fails into a baking game show
If you are feeling burned out by cooking competition shows — and honestly, who isn’t these days? — Netflix’s Nailed It might make you fall in love with this genre once again. Here are a seven reasons why this show works so well:
1) It’s funny as hell: The show has a ridiculous conceit inspired by a popular Pinterest meme — amateur bakers attempting to recreate elaborate pastry masterpieces — and host Nicole Byer has a knack for pointing out what’s hilarious about every misshapen maple bar and lopsided layer cake. Her partner in crime, pastry legend Jacques Torres, possesses an equally silly sense of humor. Even in the presence of a monster pastry fail, the jokes are playful but never mean-spirited, and the bakers themselves also like to laugh at the fondant flops that they’ve created.
2) The stakes are just high enough to make things interesting: Although this competition is obviously a lot more forgiving than most cooking shows, the challenges themselves are extremely hard to execute and $10,000 is on the line, so there’s a clear incentive for the bakers to try and do their best.
3) It’s informative: Each episode features a running commentary from Torres and a guest pastry judge about how the pros put together these ornate desserts. The first episode sets the bar pretty high with an appearance by 88-year old wedding cake decorating doyenne Sylvia Weinstock, who offers advice on building vertical pastry towers and crafting edible roses. If you’re a home baker, you will likely pick up a few tips and tricks from the show.
4) Good gameplay: The bakers have iPad instructions to follow and full kitchens at their disposals, plus the second rounds involve various buttons that the players can hit to ask for help, freeze the clock, or summon Nicole Byer to annoy the other competitors.
5) The bakers are all likeable: Each episode of Nailed It includes brief bios of the competitors that show you why baking is important to them. These clips provide just enough info to keep you invested in the competition. The first few episodes feature a a single mom who unwinds by baking while drinking white wine, a middle-aged guy who’s always used baking as an outlet for his creativity, and a “full-time grandma” who looks and acts like a sweeter, non-racist Paula Deen. Like the hosts, they’re all extroverts.
6) The show makes you want to bake: The grand message of Nailed It is that even if you royally screw up something, you can still have fun baking in the kitchen. After watching a few episodes, you might have a sudden urge to start mixing up some cake batter.
7) The money gun: Instead of getting a big check or a briefcase full of prize money at the end of the competition, the winners gets blasted by a gun that shoots dollar bills. Every game show should adopt this practice.
All six episodes of Nailed It Season 1 are now available to stream on Netflix.
Streaming selections du jour
Atlanta: Robbin’ Season, “Alligator Man”
The gist: The second season of Donald Glover’s FX comedy/drama begins with a fast-food restaurant robbery that goes wildly off the rails. It’s an explosive, outrageous scene that suggests that anything can happen on Atlanta: Robbin’ Season. As the cop cars gather at the restaurant, one of the main characters, Darius (Lakeith Stanfield), is across the street filling up his car and telling his pal Earn (Glover) that “robbin season” is the crime-heavy period in Atlanta right before the holidays. “Christmas approaches and everybody gotta eat or be eaten,” he remarks. A few moments later Earn wonders aloud about what flavor Flamin’ Hot Cheetos are supposed to mimic and Darius replies, “hot.” Welcome back to the unpredictable, refreshingly off-kilter world of Atlanta.
Love, “Marty Dobbs”
Watch it on: Netflix
The gist: Like many Judd Apatow productions, this show is about a nerdy guy dating a girl who’s way out of his league, and yet Love somehow cuts deeper than its peers, thanks to smart writing and gutsy performances by main players Gillian Jacobs and Paul Rust. This standout from Season 2, wherein heroine Mickey (Jacobs) goes out to lunch at a Nepalese restaurant with boyfriend Gus (Rust) and deadbeat dad Marty (Daniel Stern), is a perfect example of how the show skilfully mixes comedy and drama, often in the same beat. Check out this lunch date from hell as a refresher (or primer) on Mickey and Gus’s complicated romance before watching Love’s third and final season, which is now available on Netflix.
Oh and by the way…
If you love food TV and movies and want to share your own recommendations or chat with me and the rest of the Eater pop culture team about what’s new and good, please join the brand-new Eat, Drink, Watch Facebook group. It’s a private group for food TV and movie lovers, so hit us up for an invite, and if we can confirm that you’re a real person, we’ll welcome you in. This weekend, to coincide with the launch of Nailed It, we’ll be talking about the best pastry/dessert scenes in movies and TV shows.
And in other news…
- The biggest surprise of Oscar night was undoubtedly José Andrés’s cameo during the performance of the song “Stand Up for Something.”
- The best picture winner, The Shape of Water, has some great scenes about Key lime pie.
- The Florida Project didn’t win any Oscars, but it’s a fascinating movie with several key moments that feature restaurants.
- Chrissy Teigen skipped the Oscars and summoned the Mariscos Jalisco truck (which was featured in the “tacos” episode of Ugly Delicious) to her house that night.
- Jimmy Kimmel invited a slew of great chefs to his Oscar party including Adam Perry Lang, who appeared with the late night host in the “barbecue” episode of Ugly Delicious.
- But Michael Shannon quietly had the best Oscar party at a dive bar in Chicago on Sunday night.
- On the Late Late Show this week, Padma Lakshmi revealed that she briefly changed her name to Angelique in high school because people had such a hard time pronouncing her first name.
- TV goofball Eric Wareheim hit up several of San Francisco’s best restaurants last weekend. The actor/winemaker was in town to attend La Paulee, an annual festival celebrating Burgundy wine.
- It’s easy to make jokes about Guy Fieri chugging donkey sauce and chimichangas all day long, but he actually has somewhat healthy eating habits, especially while traveling.
- And finally, Starz released a new trailer for the TV adaptation of Stephanie Danler’s divisive book Sweetbitter. Hollywood has a poor track record when it comes to fictional shows about restaurants, but maybe — just maybe! — this one can break the curse.
Have a great weekend, and if you’re looking for something complicated (but not impossible) to cook, perhaps consider making Alex Guarnaschelli’s crispy potato cake.