“Nailed It!”: Distract Yourself From Our Crazy World With Awful Baking

Illustration by Drew Buchanan

Analissa Núñez
Contributing Writer

With most of the world under quarantine amid the COVID-19 pandemic, picking the perfect television series to binge-watch has become an important daily decision. Making this decision isn’t easy, as there are thousands of shows to stream online by the minute. But if you’ve ever tried to recreate a Pinterest dessert and ended up with a massive failure, you’ll love “Nailed It!” This goofy, light-hearted baking reality show returned to Netflix earlier this month with its fourth season, offering the perfect outlet to escape the stressful world.

While baking competition reality shows such as “The Great British Bake-Off” or “Cake Wars” force contestants to prove their skills in a pressured environment, “Nailed It!” is the complete opposite — it wants its contestants to fail. Inspired by “Pinterest fails,” three amateur bakers must recreate Instagram-worthy cakes within a limited time period. On the show, bakers often make mistakes such as forgetting to grease their pan, not putting buttercream in between cake layers, or confusing salt for sugar in their cake.

The format of the show is simple: competitors are given two challenges. The first is “Baker’s Choice,” where they must choose a small treat to recreate. The winner of the challenge wins a special prize and is given the golden baker’s hat to wear. The second challenge, “Nail It or Fail It,” is the most crucial as competitors only have two hours to recreate an elaborate cake along with several decorations. The contestant with the most edible and appealing creation wins $10,000. 

The series is hosted by an unlikely duo: comedian Nicole Byer and world-famous pastry chef and chocolatier Jacques Torres. With Byer’s comedy and Torres’ expert knowledge, the show becomes a way for viewers to gain baking tips while enjoying a laugh or two. Byer, for example, can transform dull moments into entertainment and has the most contagious laugh that will cause you to burst into a fit of laughter.

This season, viewers are also treated to guest judges such as “Parks and Recreation” star Adam Scott, “The Mindy Project’s” Fortune Feimster, and 2012 Olympian Gabby Douglas. Aside from the judges is the fan-favorite assistant director Wes Bahr, who is known for delivering prizes and trophies in outrageous costumes. Though Bahr has never spoken on screen, Byer calling for Wes (pronouncing it as H-wes) has turned into a gag that viewers have grown to love.

What separates “Nailed It!” from other shows is the positivity that its judges share with the competitors. Rather than shaming contestants for their lack of artistry (or baking) skills, the judges share what they enjoyed from their creation. This season, Byer asks Torres, “Do you ever find it ironic that you are a highly decorated, well-respected pastry chef and you have to eat trash every day for money?” To which Torres responds, “You know what I like about it? When they mess up, I can explain why they mess up and how not to mess up. This is an opportunity for me to teach.” 

“Nailed It!” teaches us that our actions don’t always have to be perfect and shows how we can continue to be imaginative under troubling times. Undoubtedly, this is the perfect show to watch during your self-quarantine as it will trigger your sweet tooth and inspire you to bake something new — especially since there’s no way you can do worse than the contestants. Aware that they aren’t good bakers or that they’ll win the cash prize, competitors come to the show because they sincerely love baking; that effort is the first step towards actually nailing it.