World War Bun
With the last season of The Great British Bake-Off nothing but a distant memory, I’ve been grappling around for another competitive baking show to while away the hours. And I thought I’d found it in Cupcake Wars, an long-running American show in which professional bakers battle it out to create cupcakes for a glitzy event-sort of Masterchef: The Professionals meets Glee. Perfect, eh? Well, no.
To start, we’ve got the host. Now, I’ve watched about seven episodes of this nonsense and I couldn’t for the life of me actually give you his name: turns out he’s Justin Willman, enigma. Some casual research reveals he broke both his arms as a child trying to ride a bike while on rollerblades (brilliant), is a magician (superb), and presumably has a twisted fetish for presenting low-stakes gameshows in his spare time (as well as Cupcake Bores, his credits include Last Cake Standing and the momentously hilarious Scrabble Showdown). We can only hope that he’s created some elaborate illusion of himself and sent it to daytime TV, laughing all the way to the magic bank.
Anyway, Willman is cursed with both an impossibly terrible script and a surgical lack of charm; his witty comments basically amount to “A man walks into a bar…cupcakes” or “Knock knock…frosting”. His only use is explaining the self-explanatory rules of the game and looking simultaneously slightly inhuman and infuriatingly like someone else you can’t quite remember.
If Willman is a charisma vaccumn, the judges are a positive black hole of likability. First, there’s the magnificent Florian Bellanger, co-owner of Mad Mac Macaroons (get it?) and full claimant to a French accent last heard in a crass 1970s British sketch about the frog-eating continentals. Seriously, you can’t prepare yourself for how screamingly unbelievable this voice is; maybe that really is how he speaks English, but as long as people continue to laugh at me for sounding a bit plummy when I’m drunk I shall continue to piss myself every time Florian croons out another sentence about candied walnuts or fondant. A guest judge, usually linked tenuously with the event the winners will be catering, rolls up to plug their existence and attempt to say anything other than “huh, cupcakes” and nod sagely as Florian speaks entirely in vowels. They’re joined by someone so dramatically unremarkable that even this sentence about her isn’t worth writi
The contestants are delightfully predictable; you’ve got the down-to-earth, endearing ones (usually with the word “soul” in their team name; one went by the moniker of “Soul Cups” which, to me, sounded like a pair of especially spiritual tits), the shrieky, “You go girl!” chicks, the clear winners, and the overly-confident losers who end up setting their bun cases on fire or something equally unlikely.
As my closing statement, I’d like you to consider this: over the course of its entire run, Cupcake Wars has created somewhere in the realm of 231, 380 glorified afternoon teas. That’s enough to start World War Bun!
I’ll see myself out.