For those who have seen the recent Adventure and What’s Up, you already know what this is all about.
As I sit here uninspired of what to watch and not sure what I want to write about next as a result rewatching Gilmore Girls for probably something like the fifth time. I decided to start up a new monthly segment for the great amount of reality and variety TV shows that I watch. With that said, I did use to review them but as time went by, it just didn’t hold up for a post of its own especially when we look at say the many seasons of The Circle or Nailed It for example.
I’m starting this a tad late and I like to start things at beginning of the year preferably so we’re releasing this January one right now. If this segments interest you, I plan on releasing it on the second weekend of the month (since the first weekend, I usually release Music Obsessions).
Let’s get the January 2023 recap on the way!
Pressure Cooker (Season 1, 2023)
Follows eleven chefs who will cook and cohabit with one another as they compete to become the ultimate chef’s chef and win $100,000. – IMDB
Netflix releases a lot of cooking reality competition shows in a year and I’m pretty much always at the front row seat be it, cooking, baking or drinks, you can count me in. At one point, I wanted to do a ranking of best to worst of these shows since they throw a ridiculous amount of prize money in it and while most of them are entertaining, some are pretty silly at best.
Pressure Cooker is a different type of competition. Its almost like Netflix mashed the concept of The Circle with a cooking show where friends and alliances actually do come into play as these cooks live together and wake up everyday with a new mission and chefs with the least votes are eliminated. The key point being that the voting is done by the chefs themselves so everyone has their own standards, integrity and strategy to try to make it to the end.
This style of competition is fun since it mixes a social element with the actual skilled cooking element. Competitions like this are good and bad. On the great side, its seeing all the drama since the audience sees everything from the scheming and strategy to how each cook will approach it. On the other hand, for someone like myself who enjoys a good honest cooking competition, sometimes its frustrating that the friendships end up making a good chef leave before its their time. There’s a good balance between the two here and its not the craziest idea that Netflix has played around with so it does work in the realm and seeing as I am a fan of shows like The Circle and catch almost all of the cooking competitions on Netflix right away, Pressure Cooker is one that I’d probably love to see a second season even if the concept itself at first felt a little unfair but I guess life’s not fair and the entertainment level with the different themes of each competition and the structure is pretty well-structured.
Wonderland Junior (Season 1, 2022)
12 young artists stay together in the seaside Wonderland to meet unknown challenges and create a trendy life together. By working hard to win the opportunity to be seen by the audience, they show their talented selves. – MyDramaList
Wonderland Junior is a spin-off variety show of the parent show Wonderland which features a group of bigger celebrities in all fields of entertainment from musicians to models to TV hosts to actors etc. Wonderland Junior probably is a bankable one since it reuses the location resource that they have already but uses it to boost popularity for some young faces to help show off their talent. Its a little less sophisticated than the parent show but rightfully so since it has the framework of the first but adds in the element of youthfulness.
This one works more as a continuous few days that the group is there as they work together on different tasks from performances to themed fashion shows and little games to earn more of the island currency. The person that gets out with the most will end up winning an opportunity to be a main guest in another Tencent variety show. The show itself is unknown but I’m sure when the winner of this show pops up there, it will be clear what it is.
There’s not a whole lot to say about Wonderland Junior. The group of younger talented people is good. They are a fun bunch and these shows are always feel-good experiences and that’s really what makes it so fun to watch.
The Circle (Season 5, 2023)
Host: Michelle Buteau
Players start off isolated in an apartment, and with their online interactions as their only means of any communication. The players use a social media platform called “The Circle”. – IMDB
I’ve watch The Circle USA since the very first season and I’m always there the first day the season drops. I even have a review of Season 1 HERE back when it aired in 2020. Its hard to imagine that the pandemic made this show ever so viable and its only the beginning of 2023 and its already done with Season 5.
Every season they put a few twists here and there to make it feel a little different from its prior seasons. I can’t remember too far away but the show’s introduced Joker and Circle Hack and Doppelganger profiles and the Spice Girls. This season, its focused on the singles because we all know that Netflix is seriously banking on this matchmaking showbiz, plus most people who pop up on The Circle never really admit that they are taken since being single usually gives them a bigger possibility to flirt and get other players on their side.
I’m not going to talk too much about Season 5 of The Circle since its a little been there done that at this point. The Circle Season 5 delivers exactly what you are looking for. The themed Singles doesn’t really add too much difference to the experience. I do like that right off the bat, they throw a curveball very early on that ends up playing out throughout the whole season. The players they gather are also much more diverse in background.
The Circle is a personal guilty pleasure. While I don’t like that shows like this has ridiculously huge banks for winning, it delivers on the entertaining content (if you’re into this stuff of course). But lets just get this straight, 50% of the reason I watch this is because Michelle Buteau is the host and commentator. The stuff she says is just off the charts hilarious.
Bake Squad (Season 2, 2023)
Expert bakers elevate desserts with next-level ideas and epic execution. Now the battle is on to win over clients in need of very special sweets. – IMDB
I honestly don’t know if Bake Squad is that popular but I personally love the concept of it. Bake Squad is a show that gives back to the people in the community. Where Queer Eye does makeovers to deserving people to make them feel good about themselves, Bake Squad helps someone’s special event have the best surprise extravagant dessert that they deserve from some wonderfully talented young bakers. The first season of Bake Squad delivered some great desserts and designs and the second season actually felt like they went beyond that for some designs that went even more risky and bigger in challenges and scale.
Bake Squad is honestly just a feel-good competition. The main goal of the competition between the four bakers is to win the chance for their creation to be shown at someone’s celebration whatever or whoever its celebrating. Its not about winning prize money or for themselves, although I’m sure being on TV does boost their popularity and gets known by the public more, but the show feels like it has such a pure intention of just bringing some big and creative ideas to add to someone’s meaningful celebration.
The world needs more shows like Bake Squad that delivers on doing tasks for someone else and not scheming to win money. Its been a few hard years with the pandemic and shows like this remind us that in a world where things have gotten really out of balance, there’s still some people out there doing good in their own ways, even if its making something like desserts. Obviously these aren’t the everyday desserts and in many ways, its wild for the most part for example, building a chocolate Dinosaur Egg in the first season and then upping that and building a 1:1 chocolate piano.
Honestly, out of all the shows in this round-up, I’m hoping that Bake Squad gets many more seasons.