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Nailed It! Holiday Is the Show in Its Most Ideal Form

Holiday spirit among the guest judges and hosts Nicole and Jacques make for more compelling challenges and better bits.
  • Nicole Byer hosts the second season of Nailed It! Holiday (Netflix)
    Nicole Byer hosts the second season of Nailed It! Holiday (Netflix)

    In the first episode of Nailed It! Holiday's second season, host Nicole Byer reads fan mail from young viewers. It's all quite adorable, with trusty PA Wes (pronounced “Hwheeeees" in Byer's inimitable way) bringing in the mail and head judge and chocolatier Jacques Torres quickly growing tired of Byer's self-celebration. It's the kind of bit that goes on for just long enough without overstaying its welcome — which, in a nutshell, is also the best way to describe Nailed It!

    After releasing three seasons in its debut year, Nailed It! slowed down a bit this year, producing only one regular season. Elsewhere, however, the brand has thrived: Netflix now has versions of the show in Mexico, Spain, Germany, and France. While these can be quite fun — the bake-fail format of Nailed It! translates nicely into all kinds of languages — I was concerned that the international takeover plus only one regular season would mean we wouldn't get Nailed It! Holiday this winter. Thank the streaming gods that turned out to be anything but the case.

    The joy of Nailed It! Holiday comes from what a perfect fit a baking show is with the winter season. (There's a reason The Great British Bake-Off does a holiday special each year, not to mention the fact that this is the one time of year when the American version, The Great American Baking Show, manages to capture public attention.) The warmth of cookies and cakes is a natural fit for a time of year most associate with family, friends, and celebration. This is the exact kind of show you want to watch when you're home for the holidays, or decorating your apartment with Christmas accoutrements. It just feels like the season, if that makes any sense.

    Holiday also happens to be the best incarnation of Nailed It! on a pure television level. Unlike Season 3, which featured some gimmicky themes and underwhelming guest judges, Season 2 of Nailed It! Holiday is the show at its finest. The themes are holiday-appropriate and festive without being repetitive, including jelly-donut menorahs for Hannukah, a "Nicole at the Pole" cake, and a Grinch-themed episode. And the guest judges (Maya Rudolph! Returning favorite Jason Mantzoukas!) are all in the proper spirit. It's enough to make you only want to watch the Holiday variant ever again.

    In truth, though, I hope that the one-two punch of another successful Holiday season and the show's surprise nomination for Best Reality-Competition Series at the Emmys this year prompts Netflix to not scale back on the American Nailed It!, but improve it. This could become a year-round show for Netflix, with episodes updating at regular intervals. It could become their Chopped, in essence: a cooking show with a ton of episodes that you can binge in bites.

    Until then, I'm super satisfied with the Holiday season we have. It's sharp, fun, and the most perfect transition to the holiday season you can imagine. All you need is your Netflix account, some friends to watch with, and of course, HWHEEEEEEES!

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    Kevin O'Keeffe is a writer, host, and RuPaul's Drag Race herstorian living in Los Angeles.

    TOPICS: Nailed It!, Netflix, Jacques Torres, Jason Mantzoukas, Maya Rudolph, Nicole Byer, Reality TV