The Daily Stream: Is It Cake? Is Super Weird, And Now I Want Cake

(Welcome to The Daily Stream, an ongoing series in which the /Film team shares what they've been watching, why it's worth checking out, and where you can stream it.)

The Series: "Is It Cake?"

Where You Can Stream It: Netflix

The Pitch: I love cooking competitions, despite how I can (and have) burned frozen food before. The thing is, they've been around for decades and the format is getting a little bit stale. Now that streaming has become the dominant way we watch shows, I have been known to rewatch full seasons of hits like "Top Chef," "Masterchef," and "The Great British Baking Show." The pandemic meant my fiancé and I went through pretty much everything on our services, and more than once. We even watched (and rewatched) the Netflix series "Nailed It," where contestants who can't cook at all try to imitate a baked good. It's hilarious, based on a meme, and exceedingly weird. Where else is there to go at this point with cooking competitions? However, we ran through all of them, and we were jonesing for a really good series. I'm not sure that's what we got here with "Is It Cake?," but I will tell you we are really excited for season 2, which was recently announced.  

In the series, bakers who specialize in making lifelike cakes compete first by looking at a group of items and deciding if they're cake. Then they all pick a non-cake item to re-create in cake form. Judges (sort of) pick what they think is cake out of a lineup of items, with the cake in there as one of the options. The winner gets some money, but then they could get additional cash if they figure out which bag of money is real — and which one is cake. 

Why it's essential viewing

Yes, this show is absolutely as bonkers as you think it is. Mikey Day is probably the best host they could have chosen, managing to be even weirder than the premise. I dare you, though, to watch the entire season and not end up adoring him as he goes from a total goofball who is doing a show that could be a "Saturday Night Live" sketch with no adjustment to someone who actually tears up as he has to eliminate contestants. It's lovely! I also have concerns about the wonky turntable he and the cakes come out on since everyone seems to be very close to falling off of it. 

This is a weird show, but I bet you, like me, watched the videos on social media where people made cake look like furniture or animals or hamburgers or something. Although I'm super creeped out by food that looks like other food (gum should not look like a hot dog, my good people), I'm fascinated by the work that goes into something that won't even last. Certainly not when Mikey Day puts a knife through it. 

In a way, that's part of the odd charm of the show. He's got a giant knife that slices things in half like sneakers or dinosaurs. With the lighting (shown in the picture above), it looks like murder is happening. Like, what if Mikey Day goes bananas and decides to just run out and murder a contestant or something? The show is bizarre enough that I did wonder if they'd set up a (fake) stabbing at some point.

What are the judges even there for?

The strangest part of the show is the judging. I'd pay to find out what drugs the creators were on when they came up with the system. 

After the contestants make the cakes, they add each to a group of similar items and call in some celebrity judges who stand so far away that I could stand on that stage and not know if they were cake. They all have to decide which item on stage is cake in a few seconds and buzz in a collective answer. If there is more than one they don't get, they have to go on stage and dig in with forks to decide which is the best. It makes no sense, and that's sort of the point. 

Nothing makes sense in the world right now, and in a sea of weirdness, the show is so much fun. At least once you figure out there will be no stabbings, you sort of delight in the sense of joy in the oddity of it all. These are amazing bakers. They seem like wonderful people. I want them all to win. Of course, the people I want competing next season are the ones who make the fake bags/suitcases/sacks of money that are absolutely indistinguishable from the real thing. I do not understand the physics of this magical cake f***ery, but I cannot turn away. 

Give your brain a vacation, let it feel like it's on some sort of trippy drug, and watch the series. Your head may tilt to the side like a dog hearing a weird sound, but I promise, it's good for you. Now I want cake.