We all have our own guilty pleasures, it‘s one of those things that makes us human. Some like late night snacks, others listen to the Bee Gees, and others have odd hobbies they wouldn‘t be caught dead partaking in. Another popular one is reality TV. The type where normal people compete against one another for the chance to win a prize, to be more specific. While I wouldn‘t call it a guilty pleasure, I know that others might not freely admit their love for Survivor, America‘s Next Top Model, The Bachelor, The Apprentice and more in that vein. While all of these shows are different, they do share a similar structure. Bunch of people compete in some crazy challenges for an opportunity that generally doesn‘t present itself. Someone ends up winning, rinse and repeat next season, spark some drama to keep things interesting and milk the show as high up to triple digit seasons as you can possibly get.
As entertaining as it is to see people fumble, rage, cry for no reason and make a total mess of things in order to win some version of a life "Restart Button", these shows do tend to bring forth a lot of aggressive emotions in people. They‘re not happy shows. I would like to watch shows where people are enjoying themselves, having a good time and generally spending the entirety of the whole process smiling. Thankfully, the good old BBC has got us covered.
A Sewing Bee
Among the mire of shows focused on drama and the pursuit of financial or commercial gain, there is a certain show that stands out for its focus on human-achievement and friendly competition for no gain other than knowing that you´ve honed your craft to its ultimate level. A gem of pure bliss brought to us from the UK, called The Great British Sewing Bee. Yes, it‘s a reality television series about sewing clothes. Yes, it‘s probably the best thing you haven´t watched yet. No, I‘m not kidding. Stop laughing, I‘m serious.
The Great British Sewing Bee is a spin-off of another series called The Great British Bake Off. Yes, is a show about baking, and yes it‘s also quite good. But the one about sewing is better. No, really. Its premise is similar to the shows described above. A number of people chosen from a large pool of applicants join the show to compete against each other in every episode, facing new sewing challenges each time. At the end of the episode, the judges on the show review the results of the challenge and decide which contestant should leave the show. It then continues this way until several finalists are decided for a final showdown episode, after which a winner is crowned, heaped with praises and probably gets a free ride home. That‘s it.
There is no financial incentive. No million dollars, no free Mercedes Benz, no all-expense paid trip to Barbados with free umbrella drinks served by men wearing penguin suits. They might give the winner a slice of apple pie and a hot cup of cocoa, but that‘s it. To the winner, the accolades and the thrill of victory. Some might think of this as being a negative aspect and that the show lacks a competitive spirit, but that‘s far from the truth. The only real change compared to I Want A Lot of Cash shows is that the competition is friendly and healthy, with participants wanting others to do well, while also doing their best to come out on top.
Along with this positive attitude to competition, the show has a relaxed vibe peppered with humorous and charismatic commentary by host Claudia Winkleman; who does a great job of mixing with everyone on the show. She even visits industry experts, historians and other professionals, offering insights into the history and use of various materials, fabrics and practices in sewing of all forms. I would have never thought that random facts about the dyes straight from National Demographic would make for an interesting break from watching people put together a fitted skirt, but there you go.
It’s not to say that there are no other shows like this one out there. I’ve already mentioned that this is a spin-off of another show about cooking, but there also exist other similar spin-offs, focused on gardening and pottery. Yes, gardening and pottery. We could all do with a lower stress levels in our lives, so why would we want our entertainment have a possibly negative affect on our relaxation? I don’t know about you, but I’m going to go for some popcorn and turn the television to some friendly British people discussing how to grow the best looking petunias.