'The Great British Bake Off's Japanese Week Sparks Controversy

There are a ton of 'Great British Bake Off' viewers who believe that the show is racist after the show's Japanese Week controversy.

Mustafa Gatollari - Author

Nov. 9 2020, Updated 11:30 a.m. ET

gbbo racist
Source: BBC

This year has been rough, to say the least, so programming like The Great British Bake Off is extra needed. The baking competition has been a slam dunk with viewers not only because of its assortment of judges, but also because of its excellent production quality, and who doesn't love sweets? 

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However, some viewers are accusing the program of being racist after a few Season 11 eliminations rubbed viewers the wrong way, and after the show's "Japanese Week" challenge missed the mark for many. 

Why is 'The Great British Bake Off' being called racist?

Folks were a little peeved to see that in just four episodes, three BAME (Black, Asian, Minority, and ethnic) contestants were eliminated from the program. 

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gbbo sura
Source: BBC

Fans were none too pleased when Sura Selvarajah, a 31-year-old pharmacy worker, was booted from the program. Sura, who rocks a hijab, was let go after her white chocolate party cake was deemed too "raw." Judges Prue Leith and Paul Hollywood weren't keen on it and let her go from the competition.

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In the show's previous episodes, Makbul was also sent packing and before him, the Durham-based Loriea was also deemed too weak of a baker to persist in the series. 

Audiences said that they are noticing a "trend" in this newest season and that there's a clear double standard as "Lottie, Rowan, and Linda have been worse over a number of weeks and survived."

gbbo makbul loriea
Source: BBC

Makbul and Loriea on 'GBBO'

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While it's difficult to judge the flavor and texture of baked goods from the comfort of one's own home, there are still a bunch of folks who believed that Sura, Makbul, and Loriea's wares had a lot more to offer than their white counterparts, and began flooding Twitter with accusations that the show's producers are racist and intentionally letting go of contestants who aren't white.

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It doesn't help that Sura was a fan favorite early on too, and that there were a large number of people rooting for her to get deep into the competition.

Although there are a lot of folks who are sincerely contesting the program's discriminatory leanings, there was some blowback from other viewers who simply said that this isn't the case.

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Many social media users pointed out the fact that Sura made a string of nigh-inedible baked goods, including a "bad brownie" and a "raw ... cake," not to mention the fact she came in seventh place in another challenge. 

So is the show actually racist? Or are people just upset that their favorite bakers aren't exactly meeting the judge's criteria?

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Other people thought that the "racist undertones" started in the show from the get go and don't even apply to the baking itself, but are deeply-rooted in the conversational exchanges between the judges and the contestants.

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Viewers also took issue with "Japanese Week."

For judge Paul Hollywood, this isn't the first time he has been on a show where there has been criticism from viewers. His program Paul Hollywood Eats Japan was called "cringey and xenophobic" after the British baker said Japan was "all rice and noodles" and challenged a Michelin-star chef to try a Pot Noodle. 

But things got worse on GBBO when Week 6 asked contestants to create Japanese delicacies, and bakers "substituted traditional Japanese flavors for Indian dhal and Chinese stir-fry flavors," writes The Independent

Viewers were left perplexed by the choice of flavors, which many viewed as feeding into racist stereotypes. "It's Japan week here on Bake Off so Laura's filling her buns with Chinese-style pork because, y'know, like whatever, right?" one viewer tweeted after the episode.

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"I had hopes for Japanese week," wrote another, "but generalizing all Asian food with Japan feeds the racist narrative that all Asians are the same."

Only two winners on the 11 seasons of GBBO have been POC. Do you think GBBO is racist? 

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