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The Great British Baking Show Faces Major Backlash Due to This Offensive Episode

The opening scene was cringey and that was only the beginning.

There was a lot to talk about following last week's episode of The Great British Baking Show on Netflix, which featured Mexican week in the baking tent. While the production has previously tackled various multicultural bakes, the episode on some of the most popular food items from Mexico drew particular criticism thanks to its tone-deaf jokes and cultural stereotyping.

The charming production, featuring amateur bakers who compete against each other in a friendly and incredibly British competition, has been a cult favorite since its 2010 inception. We've seen the technical challenges behind English muffins and we've learned the mechanics behind trifles. Typically, the most shocking part of the show is when someone is eliminated when their bakes crumble or their flavors don't mesh well.

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Not this week. Never before were viewers as shocked and horrified—as they were while watching the cringe-worthy Mexican episode.

It all started with the opening scene, where co-hosts Matt Lucas and Noah Fielding, who were wearing colorful serapes and sombreros, discussed whether they should shy away from making Mexican jokes. "Not even Juan?" Lucas joked. And it didn't get any better from there.

The bakers were tasked with making pan dulce, steak tacos with beans, pico de gallo, and guacamole (an odd choice for a baking show), and tres leches cakes.

Lucas shook the maracas; the hosts mispronounced common Mexican dishes; and they noted that the dishes looked Mexican because they were colorful. After one of the contestants literally peeled an avocado with a peeler, and Fielding questioned whether Mexico actually is a real place, viewers had had enough.

"The Great British Bake Off Mexican week has been a disgusting display of crimes against humanity," one person Tweeted, while another said, "As a Brit, I can tell you that The Great British Bake Off's Mexican Week episode is pretty much a perfect masterclass for the uninitiated on the very specific kind of casual racism that is British casual racism."

And another wrote on Instagram, "Completely misinforming the world about actual Mexican cuisine as well as so casually . . . Unsurprising and always disappointing British behavior."

Some have pointed out that the episode isn't a one-off debacle, but a crescendo of everything that is wrong with the show. According to Eater, The Great British Baking Show has a history of taking a superficial approach to cultural bakes, while its producers seem stubborn to the idea of making better, more informed and informative programming.

Danielle Braff
Danielle Braff is a freelance writer based in Chicago. Read more about Danielle