‘Beauty and the Baker’ is great when it isn’t an exact copy

Sunday, April 19, 2020 - 5:01pm

NOSELL

ABC

“Beauty and the Baker” is an American TV show about the love story between a rugged Cuban-American baker and a headstrong supermodel. The show’s two main characters, the baker Daniel Garcia, (Victor Rasuk, “The Mule”) and the beauty Noa Hamilton (Nathalie Kelley, “Vampire Diaries”) occupy completely different worlds in Miami when the show begins. Daniel is an everyday man who works at his loving family’s bakery. Noa is a supermodel who drifts between lovers in an extravagant but alienating world of fame and fortune. Daniel is attracted to the idea of being with a superstar, and Noa fetishizes the rugged, simple life of Daniel. As the show progresses, the characters strip away these fetishes to create their own type of love. 

The show itself is an adaptation of a successful Israeli show of the same name. Although some scenes and lines of dialogue are directly ripped from the original, the American version of “Beauty and the Baker” attempts a fresh perspective in hopes of demonstrating its separation from the original. 

The American “Beauty and the Baker”’s copy of the original fails to mimic its predecessor in many ways. For example, one of the most famous scenes of the original show is the bathroom scene where the Beauty and the Baker first meet. In the Israeli version, that scene is funny, subtle and superbly written. The American version operated as if it was taken through Google Translate — a redub of the exact same lines of dialogue with none of the subtle intonations and innuendos that make language beautiful and complex. Scene after scene that was copy-pasted from the original has only a fraction of the intelligence and desired effect. The reason why the show is getting so much positive reception speaks more to the success of the original, not to this show itself.

Contrastingly, the show really shines when it deviates from the original show. The American version simultaneously adds new and interesting characters while maintaining focus on the original characters. It pays more attention to Daniel’s crazy ex Vanessa (Michelle Veintimilla “Gotham”), which adds a new layer of complexity to Daniel’s decision to reject her proposal. The show also adds another much-needed female character with Natalie Garcia (Belissa Escobedo “Don’t Look Deeper”), Daniel’s sister. Partly due to the extra run-time, the side characters in this show are much more developed and interesting, which adds to the audience’s engagement with the show. Moving forward, the show should rely more on itself rather than on the success of its predecessor. 

Fundamentally, both shows are about fetishization. Fetishization of how everyday people tend to glorify the extravagant lives and bodies of rich people, and how rich people envy the “simple” lives and bodies of working class people. What the show tries to do is strip away these fetishizations to reveal a stronger type of romance. Strangely enough, though both shows say nearly exactly the same thing, they each hold a unique value. If this show was just a carbon copy of the original, it would’ve only been half as good. Luckily for us, it’s not. While the original is a fun, well-written work in itself, the American version holds a lot of potential — if only it learns not to copy and to rely more on its own unique merits.