A couple years ago, I moved from Toronto, the home of Drake, to London, the home of actual royalty. It’s probably the best decision I’ve ever made in my life. One thing I’ve especially taken to? Their charming reality shows. I’m not saying a British accent magically fixes everything — Geordie Shore (the British Jersey Shore) and Ex On The Beach are counter-proof enough — but in the right setting it really can make the world seem like a better place.
Join me in stepping into a world where reality means nothing, and charm and a well-placed smirk makes everything feel special again. Consider adding these four to your Sunday Scaries streaming line-up.
The Great British Bake Off
Allow me to ease in with a classic.
Thanks to The Great British Bake Off, I am now the kind of person who cares about a good victoria sponge and bad, soggy pie crust bottoms. In other words, I am insufferable when it comes to baked goods.
I blame the horribly-humble amateur bakers who compete for the title of Britain’s “Best Amateur Baker,” a trophy in the form of a cake stand and a cash prize of nothing. How simply un-American!
I’ve shed real tears over beautiful bakes and heart-breaking failures, beamed over a contestant’s confidence-building progress, and laughed at hosts Mel and Sue’s bad innuendos. I’ve even dreamt of a day where judge and British icon Mary Berry cooked one of her famous meals for me.
Britain loves this show so much that it became a national scandal when it was announced that Bake Off was moving from its home at the BBC to competitor Channel 4, taking only judge Paul Hollywood (the show’s version of Simon Cowell) with them.
It premiered there just last week, to good reviews. But I can’t help but wonder: Could the charm endure without Mel and Sue’s signature “BAAAAAKE” cry? Will everyone be talking about new co-host goth-comedian Noel Fielding’s outfits more than the actual bakes?
ONLY TIME WILL TELL.
We, my friends, are in a rom-com drought. The only way we can fill this gaping hole in our hearts is not with the roses and dried tears of former Bachelor contestants, but rather, with steak dinners and endearingly awkward conversations on First Dates. It’s the Brit reality show where singletons are matched up on blind dates and viewers glean the motivation we need in order to continue dating in the age of Tinder.
There’s always something sweet to learn on First Dates. Maybe it’s a cliché said in French by Fred, the resident Frenchman and dapper maître d’, what love looks like according to a 90-year-old widower or the kind of courage it takes to find love in the face of incurable cancer. Why yes, I am crying over the thought of it. Thank you for the box of tissues.
Say it with me now, WE CAN ALL DO BETTER THAN THE BACHELOR.
The Secret Life of Four, Five and Six-Year-Olds
I love kids. I think they’re funny up until they start throwing tantrums in the middle of the toy aisle at Walmart.
Luckily for me, I have found The Secret Life of Four, Five and Six-Year-Olds. It’s a show where cameras and child experts watch as kids play with each other while they develop social skills, giving me the opportunity to be a “kid person” without the poop, the yelling and the tears.
It’s also a great way to pick up on the innocent, wise and completely relatable wisdom of tiny humans. Take, for example, this apt description of my current dating life: “I have two boyfriends and they’re both cats.”
The Great Pottery Throw Down
The Great Pottery Throw Down is an absolute DELIGHT and perfect for anyone in dire need of a new hobby.
It’s set up exactly like Bake Off as twelve amateur potters compete for nothing but the glory of becoming Britain’s Best Amateur Potter. It has the same kind of light-hearted vibe and friendly camaraderie between contestants in Bake Off, but the innuendos seem more poignant when clay is involved. (I’m still waiting for someone to recreate that scene from Ghost).
Not convinced? Well, the following are actual words that were once uttered on the show: “During the day, I’m the mild-mannered person doing people’s mortgages. In the evening, I’m the mad potter.” It’s sincere and unintentional. In other words, comedic gold.
Do you watch British reality TV? Please share your uplifting recommendations below. I’ll take ‘em all.