After last season’s boneheaded move to include a casually racist “Mexican Week” as part of its competition, The Great British Bake Off has decided to get rid of its country-themed challenge weeks for its upcoming 13th season.
“We didn’t want to offend anyone but the world has changed and the joke fell flat,” executive producer Kieran Smith told The Guardian. “We’re not doing any national themes this year.”
For “Mexican Week” last year, hosts Matt Lucas and Noel Fielding, who are both white, dressed up in ponchos and sombreros to tease the episode on social media. After it aired, the episode was called tone-deaf and was accused of mocking Mexican culture and food.
Judges Paul Hollywood and Dame Prue Leith expressed some regret for the episode, but stopped short of actually apologizing. Apparently, Fielding, who said he was “really upset” about the backlash, had just come back from Mexico, which helped inspire the theme.
“I was all over the place, and we set the challenges based on what I’d seen there,” he said last year. “The challenges were very good, and everyone did a good job.”
Leith added: “It was quite unfortunate that quite a few people took offense, but we certainly didn’t mean it. The thing about Bake Off is that it absolutely represents inclusivity and diversity and tolerance and togetherness. So, the idea that we were set out to insult anybody is ridiculous.”
You know what else is ridiculous? The fact that no one on the series can simply apologize for their own tone deafness without blaming it on how much society has changed or on the people who found the episode offensive. Everyone makes stupid mistakes. But avoiding culpability for mocking Mexican culture – whether intentionally or not – only makes their lapse in judgment seem even more ignorant.