The Great British Baking Show is arguably one of the sweetest gems to stream on Netflix. This week, however, its co-hosts Matt Lucas and Noel Fielding, as well as judges Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith, found themselves in hot water by viewers who believe the latest episode promotes harmful stereotypes about Mexicans.
The episode, entitled "Mexican Week," features the amateur bakers cooking an array of Mexican-themed dishes in three separate challenges: a signature bake, showcasing a popular dish related to the theme; a technical challenge that's judged blindly and requires a higher level of skill; and a show-stopper bake, aiming to test every aspects of their talent — including taste, concept, skill and design.
The episode aired on Britain's Channel 4 on Tuesday before officially dropping on Netflix on Friday. Right away, viewers took notice of a joke made by Lucas and Fielding at the beginning of the episode.
The duo, both of whom are British, open the show wearing traditional Mexican sombreros and sarapes.
"Hi Noel, are you excited for Mexican week?" Lucas asks Fielding, to which Fielding replies, "I'm really excited for Mexican Week, absolutely pumped. Although I don't feel like we should make Mexican jokes, people will get upset."
"Not even Juan?" Lucas asks. "Not even Juan," answers Fielding.
— British Bake Off (@BritishBakeOff) October 4, 2022
The exchange was shared Tuesday on the show's U.K. Twitter account. Almost instantly, the post began circulating on social media, with many people, including members of the Latino community calling out producers for promoting harmful Mexican tropes that don't serve Mexican people and the Hispanic/Latinx community at large.
We're about to witness the most BRUTAL acts against the Spanish language to have ever been perpetrated. https://t.co/UCvOvGfdyQ
— Felipe Torres Medina (@felipetmedinaa) October 4, 2022
I had a moment where I wanted to watch this episode just to see how bad it was. That moment has passed. I'm so incensed that they don't realize how vile and racist this crap is. #GBBO https://t.co/kc8XZls2S1
— Tom Vásquez (@TVasquez) October 5, 2022
This whole episode is making me cringe so so much, the crap & borderline offensive jokes, the mispronunciation of literally everything, that there are so many other Mexican baked goods you could go for and yet you chose tacos...the list goes onnnn 😭 #GBBO
— Rochelle Thomas (@RochelleThomas_) October 4, 2022
Twitter uses were also quick to point out other offensive jokes made throughout the show, including one where Fielding asks, "So, is Mexico a real place?" to which Lucas replies, "I think so? I think it's like Xanadu."
"Like Oz?" Fielding replied.
Hosts of The Great British Baking Show asking the tough questions pic.twitter.com/f0NFJinWIk
— Scare-ald and Maude (@andyheriaud) October 5, 2022
Throughout the episode, there were also mispronunciations of famous dishes like guacamole, which one baker pronounced as "glocky-molo," while another pronounced pico de gallo as "pico-da-gallyo," which didn't sit well with some viewers.
Honestly the most British thing the Great British Bake Off has done is butcher things from other cultures for their own enjoyment.
— Kiki Djarin (@BlackPnwLady) October 5, 2022
Have you considered not having a racism themed week
— commBOOnity ORGANizer 🥾 (@acekatana) October 6, 2022
Can confirm that Great British Bake Off's Mexican Week episode is just as awful as reported.
If I heard the word 'taco' mispronounced once more time, to say nothing of the butchering of 'guacamole,' I was going to destroy my TV.
— Hannah Thoburn (@HannahThoburn) October 7, 2022
There are many offensive moments in the Great British Bake Off's "Mexican week" ep, but on the very minor side, peeling an avocado like a potato is sending me pic.twitter.com/RqdTZTvoSd
— Malena Carollo (@MalenaCarollo) October 7, 2022
Netflix, Channel 4 and Love Productions, which produces The Great British Baking Show, did not respond to Yahoo Entertainment's requests for comment.
Though the episode struck a nerve for many, there are some who say the commentary provides an opportunity to raise conversations about the importance of inclusion and representation.
Laura Martínez, a Mexico-born blogger and journalist living in New York City, tells Yahoo Entertainment that while she's not personally offended by the "Juan joke," the show's misstep is a stark reminder that Latinos are vastly underrepresented on a global scale.
"It's the oldest and most tired joke in the book. I find it plain dumb," she says. "The writers of this thing could use a team of good writers who can play with words. I'm sure they have those in the U.K. I was more offended as a funny person than as a Mexican!"
As a funny Mexican, I was more offended by the lame joke than by their outfits 🤷🏻♀️
— Laura Martínez ® (@miblogestublog) October 5, 2022
"It's a good thing everyone wants to try our food. It's a testament of how delicious it is even if they end up screwing it up," Martinez adds. "I honestly wouldn't expect Latino representation in a show about British cooking — the whole concept is just... bizarre — but they could have reached out to actual Mexican chefs in their country. They exist, believe me."
Susie Haslett, an immigration and asylum rights advocate, and a Mexican-American, says the show made her country the "butt of so many tasteless jokes," which can be "absolutely hurtful" to the community at large.
"In the same way that people — elected officials even — have been called out for wearing blackface, or wearing stereotypes of Native American clothing, it's confounding to me that we still have to have this conversation over and over again about why a sombrero, a sarape, and a mustache, are harmful to Mexicans and Mexican-Americans," Haslett tells Yahoo Life.
"What feels doubly heartless here, is the way the show opened up for this episode — the question they ask themselves is that people wouldn't like the jokes — and they doubled down anyway," she continued. "We need see no further than the video clips, the gifs, the memes to see what the 'creative' vision was. It was yet another lazy cliché that television and media use to dust off the shelves when they need to 'spice things up' for their ratings."