Thank Goodness ‘Bake-Off’ Is Coming Back

Plus: Desus & Mero, The Great Pottery Throw Down, and What’s Making Us Happy

by Linda Holmes
Welcome! It was the week when the United States government announced you wouldn’t be able to download TikTok anymore. It was the week when Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston got people talking yet again. And it was the week when Saturday Night Live hoped you’d be interested in seeing Jim Carrey play Joe Biden. Let’s get to it.

Opening Argument: Thank Goodness ‘Bake-Off’ Is Coming Back

The Great British Baking Show (the American title, for legal reasons, of the UK’s Great British Bake-Off) is returning to Netflix on Friday, September 25 — that’s a week from today. There wasn’t a lot of lead-up to it; a lot of us weren’t sure when we might see it again. But is there anything that’s more welcome at this moment? 

I tend to resist the idea, up to a point, that there’s a single kind of «quarantine entertainment,» because obviously, that’s different for everyone. I knew that from the minute other people flocked to Contagion in March at the same time I would have happily arranged my life so that I would never, ever encounter Contagion unexpectedly under any circumstances. 


If there were perfect quarantine entertainment, I suppose it would meet a few criteria, right? It would be calming, because nobody needs more anxiety. It would be kind-hearted, because nobody needs cutting remarks (beyond the playfully devastating Paul Hollywood barb). It would involve a lot of people being supportive of each other, because we all need to believe that being present for each other and concerned about each other’s well-being matters.

For me, that’s The Great British Baking Show — and on top of that, if it inspires you directly, you might make a cake or a loaf of bread or something, and quarantine baking has already been a major feature of isolation life for a lot of us. There just can’t be too much peaceful content for me at the moment, whether it’s music or podcasts or books or television. In fact, as I noted this week, HBO MAX now has available all three seasons of the Bake-Off cousin The Great Pottery Throw Down, which is almost exactly the same format, except with pottery. If anything, it’s even more soothing, because pottery has to dry and be fired, meaning it takes days for projects to be completed. 

As it becomes clearer that the end of isolation is probably not close, I find myself flooded with gratitude for anything that makes it a little easier. My dog, the chance to sit outside with family and friends, daily check-ins with colleagues, telemedicine, grocery delivery, talking over the fence with my next-door neighbor, and yes, favorite shows that lower my anxiety levels. 

Only one question remains: Can we get The Great British Sewing Bee next?

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We Recommend:

A couple of pieces of podcast news to note: NPR’s own Rough Translation is back with a fourth season, and the first episode is all about boy bands, the internet, China, and fan fiction. Very much, I suspect, up the alley of a lot of our listeners. 

Also, news came out this week that friends of the show Sidney Madden and Rodney Carmichael will be hosting Louder Than A Riot, NPR Music’s first narrative podcast, which will look at the intersection of mass incarceration and hip-hop. I cannot wait. 

A fun thing from NPR Music this week: Desus & Mero’s favorite Tiny Desk Concerts

What We Did This Week:

Jude Law plays a man who's in over his head in HBO's The Third Day.
Robert Ludovic/HBO
As mentioned above, I wrote about The Great Pottery Throw Down, which is just delightful. 

I also wrote about HBO’s The Third Day, which is a mysterious-island series that I wish had packed a bigger punch. 

I wrote about Coastal Elites, the HBO special presentation that brought together five monologues, two of which I really liked. (And one is Dan Levy, so what’s not to love?)

And I wrote about Ratched on Netflix, which just is not good at all, even though I would buy the coffee table book. 

Glen wrote about We Are Who We Are, the new Luca Guadagnino drama. 

On our Wednesday show, we brought our four permanent hosts together for the first time (yay!) to talk about some predictions about pop culture and the pandemic.

And on our Friday show, I got together with Aisha, Soraya McDonald, and Joelle Monique to puzzle over Antebellum, which I think we all hoped would be better.  

What’s Making Us Happy:

Every week on the show, we talk about some other things out in the world that have been giving us joy lately. Here they are:
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