The bakes on Nailed It! have always been next-to-impossible: The amateur bakers are given too little time, and way too much detail to copy from an elaborate, professionally-created cake.
But they try anyway, and disaster frequently ensues. So does a whole lot of irresistible fun, thanks to host Nicole Byer’s uproarious and witty, instantaneous reactions to everything that unfolds. (How does she not yet have an Emmy?)
And her chemistry with judge Jacques Torres is icing, a perfect layer of sweetness. Jacques can also be quite droll, but I’m mostly charmed by his reactions to Nicole’s reactions.
Rather than construct artifice, Nailed It! just ignores the fourth wall, like when Nicole suddenly tells two contestants, “You didn’t win this round! I’ll just say that now. I don’t know why we should pretend. So it’s between these two teams!”
In the three years since Nailed It! premiered, the show has iterated on its concept in small ways: there have been two holiday-themed seasons, and the addition of tools like liquid nitrogen.
But mostly it’s leaned into what works: Nicole’s reactions, their playfulness, Wes’s appearances. Excuse me: Whes!
This is a show that knows exactly what it is, and delivers the same easygoing delight in every episode.
The same is true, thankfully, for Nailed It! Double Trouble.
While Nailed It! Double Trouble has doubled the number of contestants by having duos compete, the show itself hasn’t changed at all.
Season five opens with Nicole and Jacques doing an over-acted bit where they pretend to be stocking the pantry and compliment themselves on how great they are as a team. “What if, this season, we had teams competing?” Nicole asks, and Jacques replies, “Maybe for once, we’ll even get better-looking cakes.”
Jacques then starts shaking in fear—in the most delightfully badly acted way possible—and says, “What if we get cakes two times as bad?” Nicole freaks out, too: “All those names: I’m going to have to remember all those names!”
They decide this is a bad idea, and as Nicole runs through the set screaming “Whes!” and knocking things over, Jacques breaks the tiny bit of character he’d been holding together and just doubles over with laughter.
The bit is a fun reintroduction to the season, but their feigned fears are entirely unfounded.
The pairs of contestants—best friends, siblings, drag sisters, actors who are sisters, “young lovers”—continually produce bakes that are very funny and very flawed.
That said, while you’d think Nailed It! Double Trouble would result in twice-as-bad cakes, the contestants are a little more successful than usual. Emphasis on a little: the bakes are still frequently wrecks, even if they’re not complete disasters. And every time that cloche comes off or the barrier drops, what’s revealed results in visual comedy.
The most-successful pairs figure out that they can divide the labor and get more done, though the precision work required to exactly duplicate the model cakes means they’ll almost always come up short.
In the same way that The Amazing Race’s teams of people with pre-existing relationships, though of the episodes I watched, none of the Nailed It! Double Trouble teams melt down or scream at each other. They may mock each other gently, or but there’s no real uncomfortable tension or anger. This is Nailed It, after all.
The pairs provide a new kind of fodder for Nicole, who has twice as many people and relationships for her quips, and Jacques, whose advice and insight adds a focus on teamwork.
But it’s hard to overstate how little has changed, and how just fine with that I am. The format works, and it doesn’t need to become something different.
Contestants may be competing together, but the production has left the core of Nailed It! alone.
Despite being filmed in the past year, there’s no intrusion of the reality of our past lives, except for the larger judges’ table and the occasional hint, such as when guest judge and comedian Ron Funches deadpans, “It’s just good to be here. I haven’t worked in months.”
And it’s good to be with Nailed It again, as I haven’t laughed this hard in months.
Nailed It Double Trouble: A