Blown Away is a truly unnecessary and ludicrous production, and I love it.
This is a show that no one asked for. My family discovered it by scouring the deepest, darkest and least-watched avenues of Netflix’s massive inventory while trying to pass some time during the quarantine. This is the entertainment that you would find if you went to the “because you watched Chopped” tab, and then continued to visit the subsequent shows’ “for you” tabs at least 10 times. Once, I tried to pirate Rick and Morty online and what I ended up with was upside down and in Arabic. This show reminds me of that. It’s like the Great British Baking Show, if the Great British Baking Show were missing its lighthearted commentary, artistic shots and kind participants; essentially, all the elements that make it charming.
None of the contestants on Blown Away are British, which is an instant detractor, but even more importantly, they are almost all objectively awful. One might think that this would render the show impossible to watch, but paradoxically, the humor that arises from these conditions tips it from the edge of just-plain-bad to so-bad-it’s-funny. Blown Away’s premise is essentially consistent with other elimination shows, in which several contestants go head to head over a series of episodes until one emerges victorious, but with a fresh twist; these competitors are glass blowers. Each new installment centers around a themed challenge that is chosen by the judges, and all of the artists are allowed to pursue it however they see fit.
Although the introduction of all of our main characters establishes them as generally quirky, two contestants have an obvious edge. First, there’s Leah Kudel, a 34 year old multimedia glass artist who attended RISD. In every episode Leah’s work becomes, without fail, some statement about social justice. Of course, using art to make a point about problems is completely admirable, and there is always a right place and time to do so. However, something about the way that Leah twists each prompt to fit an idea that she had clearly already worked out seems almost comical compared to the light-hearted pieces that the other artists create. In one instance, the contestants are challenged to make a sculpture that will allow food to be eaten in a new and creative way. The camera pans past a whimsical taco holder, basketball sized wine glass and russian-doll style decanter before landing on Leah’s piece: several small, muddy-brown glasses and bowls with holes in the bottom, because, loosely summarized, “food is not accessible to everyone.” The intentions are good, but the execution is a bit laughable.
Then there’s Deborah Czeresko. She’s a 57 year old glass artist with an MFA from Tulane, and also the saving grace of this show. Deborah is a very difficult person to describe. She’s cocky in an unapologetic way, completely confident in her work and overwhelmingly odd. Some of her most memorable quotes include, “This is not my best day psychically,”, “God, I’m full of myself,”, and “Nothing feels better than winning.”.
Deborah is a very difficult person to describe. She’s cocky in an unapologetic way, completely confident in her work and overwhelmingly odd. Some of her most memorable quotes include, “This is not my best day psychically,”, “God, I’m full of myself,”, and “Nothing feels better than winning.”
It’s important to acknowledge that, despite all of Blown Away’s strangeness and overall lack of appeal to most Netflix viewers, there’s something addicting about it. Although I declared this show to be ridiculous after the first 10 minutes of viewing, I was so entertained by the end of the episode that we had to watch another. I hate to say it, but by the end of the season I was actually invested in the final contestants, and was definitely pulling for one winner in particular. There’s honestly something heartwarming about it– maybe the fact that the stakes are so low compared to other television today, but all of the artists are genuinely invested in their work. It’s a perfect balance for people like myself who are too embarrassed by The Bachelor to watch it for more than 15 minutes, but also crave the satisfaction of watching other people compete.
Overall, I have to recommend this show as an excellent source of entertainment during quarantine. If you’ve reached the very end of your Netflix queue, this should be next in line. Don’t get any ideas though– that’s not to say that it’s good.
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