Join me on Great British Bake Off TikTok
Or Bachelor In Paradise TikTok!
First person to get Paul Hollywood to do a little lad dance wins. —Kate
When I was at Refinery29, I was an entertainment writer, which meant I watched most TV shows and movies a few weeks before they were available to the public. By the time social media was talking about, say, the newest season of Stranger Things, I was already knee-deep in The Crown, prepping recaps and SEO posts for the next month. This means it wasn’t until the past year or so that I not only watched the shows alongside everyone else, but also could participate in and enjoy the trends and conversations that happen around them, particularly online.
While I could do without things like endless Ted Lasso discourse, I’ve found particular joy in the role TikTok can play in turning a TV show into an interactive community experience. The most notable example is how the app built upon Bo Burnham’s recent special Inside by turning audio snippets into their own trends on the app, recreating or remixing the music, or simply resurfacing old Burnham interviews that build upon themes in the special.
But nowhere is TikTok a more effective pop culture supplement than reality TV. You don’t have to wait for PR-organized interviews or for the bloopers at the end of the seasons to learn more about those on-screen. They’re real people who can pick up their own phones and tell you, and you can stumble upon them on TikTok in a way that feels like God himself placed them in your path.
I first noticed this playing out around the recent season of Bachelor In Paradise. I didn’t watch the show this year but am familiar enough with the faces and names of the contestants that I tuned in when their TikTok videos appeared on my For You Page. All of the Bachelor franchise is pre-filmed, which means the contestants are able to watch along with us and provide (NDA-abiding) commentary. On TikTok, this means giving us deeper insight into their emotions during dramatic moments on the show beyond the talking-head interviews, and channeling feelings of rejection or confusion or anger through TikTok trends, which make them seem more accessible.
But what actually inspired me to write this piece was The Great British Bake Off. Specifically, contestant Crystelle Pereira, whose TikTok videos fill me with the warmth of a proving drawer. While she also posts baking videos, her most popular content is anything to do with the behind-the-scenes of the current season of Bake Off. She got the entire cast—including Jürgen (IYKYK)—to do a dance, and makes other TikTok trend videos inspired by inside jokes, like the horror of technical challenges and the ways hosts Noel Fielding and Matt Lucas can be chatty to the point of distracting to the bakers.
It’s not just the videos, but the comments that get me. Crystelle responds to almost every single one—including demands she gets Paul Hollywood to “do a little lad dance” (“I’ll try my best,” she says).
For those who’d like to follow me onto Bake Off TikTok, Lizzie Acker, another favorite, is also on TikTok, as well as Freya Cox—but someone needs to tell her to post more! Former contestant Michael Chakraverty frequently makes videos answering burning Bake Off BTS clues, and for a real blast from the past, here’s a nofilter interview (#tbt) I did with TikTok creator Allie Alexander, who Julie and Julia-ed her way through all the technical challenges on the show.
Happy dessert week.