Rachel Strange

The new NBC show “Making it” is a crafting competition, but the pilot episode makes it very clear it is not trying to be your regular competition reality show. Sure there’s a cash prize at the end, but they purposely don’t make big deal about it. The contestants win patches, like in some kind of scouts, when they win the smaller episodic competitions that follow each episodes theme. Hosts Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman, whose great friendship style chemistry you may remember from “Parks and Recreation”, aren’t there to integrate contestants but befriend them and cheer for them. This isn’t about drama or who is throwing who under the bus. “Making It” wants you to remember that people are nice, creative, and that puns can be very funny.

All of that to really say this: “Making it” is clearly trying to channel “The Great British Baking Show” in both format and substance. There’s two comedic hosts with excellent chemistry who speak in veiled double entendres and have fun with the contestants and two knowledgeable, tough, but also kind judges. Plus there’s the weekly theme and “let’s all just enjoy this thing” attitude covering every aspect. However, it is that obvious comparison that hurts the show a bit because, for one, “The Great British Baking Show” cracked a formula that simply is not easy to replicate even though many have tried. Additionally, these contestants don't reach quiet the heights of creativity one might see on “The Great British Baking Show”, which is probably the one way that “Making it “ disappoints the most.

Despite that, this show is still very enjoyable, especially if you were already a fan of Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman, or if you are someone like me, who has been hoping for some kind of truly American riff on the style of “The Great British Baking Show”. Plus, this show unashamedly wants us to get off our phone and actually use the part of our brains that touches and creates in the real world. What we make probably won’t be as lovely as what the makers on this show create, and might not even technically be crafts but maybe a garden, a project at home, or a meal. These endeavors are worth attempting from time to time, even if its just to remind us of what it means to exist in the real world rather than the virtual one.

Rachel Strange writes a weekly pop culture column for the Progress.