If you love The Great British Bake Off but prefer ranunculus and petunias to tortes and custard buns, then you’re going to love The Big Flower Fight. It’s a brand new eight-part Netflix series that’s one big botanical feast for the eyes—and honestly, the timing couldn’t be better.
If you’re imaging a group of contestants traipsing through a field of daffodils with their stem cutters and baskets, well, this isn’t that. Starring 10 teams of florists, sculptors, and garden designers, the contest takes place in a giant metallic dome (outside, the idyllic English countryside tempts) containing a metal workshop, tools I can't even name, and yes, flowers. Each week, they square off to create huge floral masterpieces.
And huge is right. The challenges in this show are larger-than-life and outlandish, which is slightly at odds with a time when our worlds have dramatically shrunken. But maybe that’s exactly why we need a show like this—full of fantastical furry creatures and hairy beasts, and outlandish “couture gowns” made with nothing but thousands of cut flowers—a panacea for the times we live in.
The very-fun first episode has each team design “titanic bugs” (even more enjoyable after I’d just spent the last 30 minutes chasing a very large bee out of my apartment). Turns out, a giant moth can be beautiful; and “this is the most preposterous proboscis I have ever seen” is the kind of compliment every contestant is aiming for.
Yup, these creations are wild. And the competition is fierce (words are definitely exchanged in later episodes). And it’s no wonder, because the stakes are high: the overall winner of The Big Flower Fight will get to design their own sculpture to be put on display in London’s Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. With a conservationist theme, the participants are also encouraged to keep their focus on plants that give back to the environment—such as pollinating, insect-friendly species.
Unlike the Bake Off and its slate of amateur, yet very skilled, home bakers, the contestants here are professionals in the field. The show is hosted by comedians Vic Reeves and Natasia Demetriou, who aren’t household names outside of Britain—at least not yet. Flanking them is the primary judge and “florist to the stars,” Kristen Griffith-VanderYacht along with a special celebrity judge per episode. So far, the three of them have some friendly banter going, sure, but what I really miss about Paul Hollywood’s ruthlessness and Mary Berry’s sweet grandmotherly qualities in GBBO is made up by some colorful participants. (I'm Team Yan and Henck.)
If nothing else, you’ll come away learning the names of at least 10 new species of flowering plants. I now know what heuchera and coreopsis are, and my trips to the plant nursery are never going to be the same again.
The Big Flower Fight will be available on Netflix from 18 May.