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'Nailed It' on Netflix serves up recipe for bad-baking laughs

Commentary: Finally, a show that understands those of us who've been burned trying to create Pinterest-perfect recipes.

There's finally a show for those of us who are walking, talking Pinterest Fails, can't get enough of the Cake Wrecks blog, and favor the Reddit subreddit "Expectation vs. Reality."

Before you bake up your next attempt at a kid-demanded "Frozen" or "Minecraft" birthday cake, settle down with your Netflix streaming account and watch a few episodes of "Nailed It," released Friday. The new 30-minute show features home bakers who have more confidence than oven artistry.


A not-so-royal Rapunzel (we think?), at right, and its inspiration from "Nailed It."


Netflix describes "Nailed It" as "a baking competition show for anyone who has tried to copy a Pinterest recipe and epically failed." So... all of us, then?

The premise is simple. Three home bakers are shown a professionally made baked good, from cake pops to wedding cakes, and told to copy it.

Ha ha ha boo hoo hoo. For those of us no-craft-talent tools out there, this is a lot like being handed a piano and Mozart's "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik" and told to crank out a fresh version. Or taking a piece of marble and a postcard of Michelangelo's "David" and being expected to carve a doppelgänger. Paint the Sistine Chapel? Write a novel like James Joyce's "Ulysses"? 

Sure, Netflix, I'll get right on that. I'm embarrassed (proud?) to say my own Pinterest-copying attempts look even worse than what the contestants come up with.

I haven't seen all six episodes yet, but so far, the "Nailed It" contestants are way braver and have more faith in themselves than most of us will ever have. Heck, I still panic when I accidentally throw away the box for a cake mix before the creation's out of the oven. I need those directions! Wait, how many minutes until the toothpick comes out clean?


That emoji has reason to be crying after a "Nailed It" contestant tried to re-create it.


Thankfully, comic host Nicole Byer is no Paul Hollywood from "The Great British Bake-Off." She's not channeling the Julia Child of impressive beef bourguignon, but the Julia who dropped a potato pancake and scooped it back into the pan.

And the contestants, at least the ones I've seen, aren't too full of themselves. In the first episode, Elena Timman, a social media coordinator at Tinder, perused her recipe for cake pops and announced, "I need balls, sticks, crap." That's exactly how I feel when poring over a new recipe: Where's the crap for this, and how do I put it all together?

The show reaffirms what I've always believed about baking. The process itself isn't hard, if you are exact with your measurements.  Don't try any of that throw-this-in, shake-in-some-of-that rebelliousness cooking requires. The baking gods only smile on rule followers. Your cake or pie or whatever can taste fabulous if you follow the recipe dutifully.

But if you don't have the soul (or eyes) of an artist when it comes to decoration and finishing touches, the final work isn't going to look like anything you've ever seen in a bakery. And my artist's soul is still out behind the studio smoking with Jackson Pollock.

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