By Teresa Ugarte

If you were to combine “Great British Bake-Off Masterclass”, “MST3k”, and a Tim Burton movie, you might get something close to Netflix’s new show “The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell”. Half a crafting and baking show, half a wacky sitcom, “Curious Creations” is a new take on both the baking and comedy worlds.

Christine McConnell plays herself, an ambitious and talented baker and crafter. She’s joined by an ensemble cast of puppets: Rose (Colleen Smith), a wildly inappropriate raccoon, Edgar (Mick Ignis), a giant flesh-eating monster, and Rankle (Michael Oosterom), a snarky once-mummified cat. The gang has all sorts of wacky adventures, including kidnapping a disgruntled neighbor and trying to communicate with the dead so Rose can find a can of food. In between comedic scenes, McConnell gives a relevant baking or crafting tutorial. The show is bizarre, but delightfully so.

McConnell is no amateur when it comes to crafting. She’s been posting about her bakes and crafts on Instagram since 2012, and currently has a whopping 434 thousand followers on the platform. As a result, one drawback of “Curious Creations” is that the tutorials are not well-suited for the average baker or crafter. The show often skims over the more difficult parts of a project (like the intricate carving and piping necessary to make a giant haunted-house cake) and requires tools most people don’t already have in their kitchen (like an airbrusher, and about a thousand piping bags). This doesn’t necessarily detract from the viewing experience, but the show does maintain a tone that suggests the crafts are doable at home, which just isn’t realistic for some of the projects.

The show’s greatest strength is in its tonal clarity: it knows exactly what it’s trying to be, and it does not shy away from its own weirdness one bit. Every detail, from the set design to the puppets to McConnell’s crafts (which include candy bones, edible spiders, shrunken skulls), feels vaguely sinister, but in a playful way. You feel transported into the eccentric world of McConnel, where it’s completely normal to date a murderer you met at a graveyard and make an Ouija board out of a sugar cookie. McConnell’s charm is intoxicating, and it’s difficult to dislike her or any of the other characters despite their chaotically evil tendencies.

“Curious Creations” is a show that only could have happened on Netflix. The platform is known for taking risks, greenlighting out-there shows like “Nailed It!” and “Big Mouth” which probably never would have made it past pre-production in a traditional studio. Sometimes they take a swing and a miss, like with their Will Smith flick turned flop “Bright”. But often, as is the case with “Curious Creations” their risks pay off in a big way. The fact that the show was allowed to be created without being sanitized is what makes it great.

Even though the show is weirdly dark and sometimes dances around adult themes, it somehow manages to stay light-hearted and fun. The unique combination of funny, weird, and creepy results in a viewing experience perfect for the Halloween season and beyond.

Featured Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of Christine H McConnell’s Facebook page.

Teresa Ugarte is a freshman journalism and English major and can be reached at teugarte@terpmail.umd.edu.

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