I am thrilled to announce that  we as a society no longer have a  need for “The Great British Bake  Off.” Instead, we can focus all of  our energy on the vastly superior  “Great Pottery Throwdown.”

 When “The Great British Bake  Off” first debuted on American  Netflix, it felt like a breath  of fresh air. A quaint show,  without animosity, that was  just competitive enough to hold  interest without ever lapsing  into the intense competition of  American reality shows. At the  end, all they got was flowers and  a cake stand! Lovely!

 As the seasons went on,  there have been high points  in the series’ run, like Nadiya  Hussain’s win in 2015 or the tale  of three twinks that culminated  in David’s surprise win in 2019.  Yet, by 2022, the show has had  continually diminishing returns.

 The hosts of “Bake Off” are  currently Matt Lucas and Noel  Fielding, and it isn’t working.  Fielding was a competent enough  host when his partner was Sandi Toksvig, but Lucas and Fielding  are simply too similar, too  naturally biting in their humor  to work as hosts.

 What’s worse is the evercreeping sense that this show is  no longer quite as quaint as it  once was. Yes, the bakers still  only win a cake stand, but they  have much higher sights than  that now. Nadiya has become a  shining beacon of hope for the  contestants, with her own show  and cookbooks. The bakers’  competitiveness seems to be  at an all-time high these days.  It’s not that they are mean, but  the quaintness is feeling forced  in ways it didn’t previously.  Instead of a casual show that is  a good thing to do, these bakers  see this as a life-changing career  move, and the “Bake Off” cannot  accommodate that tonally. 

The biggest problem, however,  is the current judges. Paul  Hollywood, especially, has an  air of self-importance to him that  throws the dynamic of “Bake  Off” way off. The way he smirks  before giving his patented “Paul  Hollywood handshake” is not  only aggravating, but feels out of  line with the kind aesthetic of the  show.

  The judging continues to  feel off when faced with other  cultures’ cuisines as well. Season  10 of the show included a Bread  Week challenge in which two  contestants chose Indian spices in  line with their cultural heritage,  and both of their respective  narratives for the episode  included making sure they had  the “right” amount of spice for  their white, British judges. This  constant catering to the palettes  of only white judges makes the  judging feel more sinister than it  should. I don’t leave “Bake Off”  happy anymore.

 Luckily, my hunger for quaint,  British reality TV has been  satiated by “The Great Pottery  Throwdown.” “Throwdown” has  five seasons currently on HBO  Max, the last of which was added  on March 16 of this year. It has  an extremely similar format to  “Bake Off” — they are made by  the same production company —  but manages to feel fresh and fun  in a way that “Bake Off” never  seems to live up to anymore.

 For one, the judges are, simply  put, much better television  personalities than any “Bake  Off” has produced, despite  having less flashy names than  “Paul Hollywood” and “Mary  Berry.” Keith Brymer Jones is  the current de facto head judge,  having judged the show for all  five seasons, and he is an actual  delight. Jones is a great bear of  man, not unlike Hollywood, but  his highest praise is not a selfsatisfied descent from on high  like Hollywood’s handshake, but  instead to cry. Which he does.  Regularly.

 The crying can, and did for  me when I began the show, come  off cloying. Too quaint for its  own good. And then it just kept  happening. Jones just cried and  cried at the beautiful pieces of  pottery in front of him — as well  as the truly valiant efforts that  didn’t pan out — and eventually  I was smitten. The crying feels perhaps less  saccharine because of the level  of critique given. Jones, as well  as his current partner in crime  Richard Miller, are always polite but stern in their critique. As  experts, their observations allow  me to see both pros and cons  in the work that I otherwise  wouldn’t have been able to  discern, which is the express goal  of their positions.

 It also helps that the stakes  feel correctly high on this show.  Perhaps because “Throwdown”  has nowhere near the success  of “Bake Off,” the quaintness  feels in line with the situation  being played out. The eliminated  contestants often remark that  they are disappointed with  their eliminations specifically  because they were learning a  lot, and they’d like to remain in  pottery to continue that work. On  “Throwdown,” being on the show  is its own reward, which can no  longer be said for “Bake Off.”

 Ultimately, though, what  matters most is the sense of  genuineness that emanates from  “Throwdown.” The most recent  season featured Miller, who  rarely cries, get emotional at  the work of one contestant who  made the fairy in a fairytale  themed work of hers a person  of color. Both the contestant  and Miller are non-white, and  their moment of connection, as  Miller spoke about wanting his  young daughter to see images  like the pottery in front of him,  felt unique to “Throwdown.”  For the first time, I welled up  too, a remarkable thing for a  show primarily about pots. In  that moment, I understood that  what makes “The Great Pottery  Throwdown” special is not the  quaint tone, but the connection  shared by the judges and  contestants over artistry. Maybe  “Bake Off” needs to remember  why it loves baking.