Reality TV shows are locked in their own battle.
Gone are the days of just “Survivor”, “American Idol” and “The Bachelor” – three looming giants who have spawned dozens of imitators over the past 20 years. Any new show in the genre must now not only crown a winner, but stand out in order to make an impression.
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Enter Hulu’s “Best in Dough,” a pizza-making contest series hosted by Bachelor Nation’s Wells Adams. In each 30-minute episode, Adams, accompanied by chef Daniele Uditi and a third guest judge, reviews pizzas made by various groups: Italian nonnas, social media influencers, grill masters, and more. These groups are not in competition with each other, but with each other, which is a missed opportunity for the mad chemistry of nonnas berates students or independent pizza makers against pizzerias. The chemistry between contestants is what shows up in so many reality TV shows, and in the three episodes screened for critics, “Best in Dough” doesn’t sit there enough.
Right now, Hulu’s nonfiction originals are nearly all documentaries or the like, except for one reality juggernaut: “The Kardashians.” The closest cousin to “Best in Dough” is “Baker’s Dozen,” the Cooking Channel series where 13 bakers try to impress the judges with baked goods. “Best in Dough” is a lot like Hulu trying to tap into the loyal following of the Cooking Channel, Food Network and Netflix’s “Great British Baking Show” — the OG in an ever-expanding field.
As such, “Best in Dough” may have too many ingredients for those disparate TV flavor notes to shine through. There’s the guest judge component, a staple of reality TV but which in this format doesn’t give viewers many opportunities to make a good impression. Uditi is a highlight, with his deep Italian roots, decades of expertise and apparent ease in front of the camera. Adams manages instinctively by simple juxtaposition; while he’s quite affable, the show could do with a celebrity X-factor either more in line with its premise or completely out of left field.
In Episode 2, Adams congratulates a contestant on trying something new for the first time on national television.
“I’ve done it a few times and it hasn’t worked out very well for me,” he says. Barely missing a beat, the contestant says, “I want to hear this story,” suggesting he has no idea who Adams is or why he’s hosting a pizza show. It’s a moment that could delve into viral awkwardness or hilarity, but a quick cut drops all intrigue and brings us back to calzones.
The same awkwardness is true for competitor categories, which add an intriguing color that is reduced by the competition itself. The first round is the ‘outside the box’ challenge, where they are pushed out of their comfort zone – but viewers don’t get to know them in the comfort zone to begin with. Watching nonnas trend foodstagram could be so much more satisfying if we knew them at the peak of their pizza-making powers, or watching influencers make ugly calzones if we saw them adopt the aesthetic and image for the first time. brand.
‘Best in Dough’ asks contestants to smash it when it’s time to get cooking, using pizza-making expertise, but none of the show’s personalities noticed them first. venue. The series would be totally different if influencers were allowed to lean into their skills, if nonna lore could shine, if college students could share what constitutes a pizza or even a meal at this stage of life. It makes sense to level the playing field on a show like this by keeping everyone competing in their assigned subcategory and taking out their secret weapons, but a round that allows chefs to flex their rich and multifaceted expertise would make it more convincing.
But, listen, this is a reality TV show about making pizza. At the end of the day, critiquing “Best in Dough” might be as futile as putting calzones in the oven with three minutes left on the timer. It’s viewing comfort by definition, something audiences will likely be looking to watch while considering placing a pizza order. There are no heroes and villains and alliances and enmity, no contrived storylines – just dough, and lots of it. Its goal is to satisfy pizza lovers and television fans in a one-stop shop, not to innovate just for the sake of it. The old saying goes that even bad pizza is pretty good. This show gets the job done, but consume enough episodes and you’ll soon be looking for a fresh taste.
“Best in Dough” is now streaming on Hulu.
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