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Recommended age 8-18
49 minutes
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Watching nine contestants bake in a tent in the British countryside became an international pastime with the release of the Great British Baking Show. Season 2 of The Great American Baking Show is soon to arrive, in an attempt to capture the magic of its counterpart across the pond...and it succeeds beautifully. The Great American Baking Show is as fluffy and sweet as its bakers' treats, and it replicates the British show's format without feeling like a knock-off - though it is a bit corny at times.

The premise of the Great American Baking Show is simple: nine bakers from across the US, who each have expertise in different areas of baking, are assembled and brought to a white tent in the British countryside where they're tasked with making increasingly difficult items. Each episode deals with one type of baked goods -- week one is cake week, for example -- and the bakers face three challenges to test their creativity and their mastery of baking in a time crunch and without a formal recipe. Their baked goods are judged by renowned chefs Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith, who winnow down the pool of bakers by eliminating one each episode and, in the end, crown one baker as the winner.

The Great American Baking Show Season 2 is, by leaps and bounds, superior to the most recent seasons of its British counterpart (and its first season, which had a tough run). That doesn't mean it doesn't have issues, but it's almost at the level of the first few seasons of the Great British Baking Show. The bakers are judged by Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith, both of whom lean into the characters they've carved out for themselves in the British version. Paul is the exacting master baker whose handshakes seem to be worth more than the lottery (and whose striking good looks are a source of near-constant discussion among the ladies). And Prue is the endearing British dame, providing periodic, measured compliments and pearl-clutching comments about calories. The show's hosts, comedian Zach Cherry and actress Ellie Kemper, have, essentially, one job: pull silly, cheesy stunts, motivate the bakers and mug for the camera while mournfully calling out time checks. In the first few episodes, they seem a bit awkward together, with some of their jokes working and others falling flat, but they soon find their beat. I did miss seeing Noel Fielding in the tent, but I will say that Cherry and Kemper's chats with the bakers are fun and help the show move along. The contestants are a sweet, supremely talented, but somewhat unremarkable batch, likely due to the editing which, as in last season, doesn't allow viewers to understand the bakers' back-stories very well. There are other rough moments in the editing of this show, like some jerky cutaways, shaky footage of bakers running from place to place and clearly artificial, over-the-top reactions to the technical bake judging. Also to be noted, the items on this list were present in the first season of the American show too, so perhaps it's an artistic choice. The actual content of the show is pleasant , though. The British version of the show has seen its challenges grow more and more wild over time, and the Great American Baking Show follows suit. I also think it was a smart move to make the show more "American" so that both viewers and bakers would have an easier time relating to the show. And, my final note -- I love how wholesome the energy in the tent is throughout the show. Even in the midst of heated competition, the bakers smile and encourage each other. It appears that the most kind cross-section of America got its own TV show, which is nice to see in this age of discord and infighting.

The Great American Baking Show promotes healthy competition, exploration, creativity and the enjoyment of simple joys in life like food.

Great American Baking Show: Season 2 gets 5 out of 5 stars and I recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. It will be available on The Roku Channel beginning May 24, 2024.

By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 18

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Roku Original The Great American Baking Show is the American version of the most beloved baking show on the planet, bringing together passionate, talented bakers from around the country to see who will be named America's Best Amateur Baker.
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