BLOWN AWAY. Reality series. Netflix.
MEGAN FURNISS reviews
It was a Friday night after a hard week. I didn’t feel like starting a new series and I was looking through Netflix without feeling hopeful about finding something light but not inane when I stumbled across Blown Away – billed as “Ten master artists turn up the heat in glassblowing sculpture challenges for the chance to win $60,000 in prizes and the title of champion.”
Confession 1. I am a sucker for these kinds of reality shows. Confession 2. Since becoming a vegan my favourite cooking reality competitions, Masterchef and The Great British Menu, have become unwatchable for me because of the festival of flesh. So, a glass blowing competition seemed perfect – artistic, quirky, original and totally out there. The Guardian byline for its review is “It’s niche, it’s pretentious and it’s full of cliches. But Netflix’s Blown Away is so hilariously absurd that simply everyone has to see it.” This is the glass blowing version of The Great British Bake Off and I love it.
There are a couple of reasons why this show has endeared itself to me. Firstly, let’s face it, there are no really famous celebrity glass blowers (to my knowledge). This means we don’t have the hyper hysterical ego behaviour of many reality TV judges and hosts. Some random guy hosts, and he is devoid of the pithy, punny banter of the usual ones. A big relief.
Then there are the contestants. I have no idea how many people auditioned but the ones chosen are the spectrum of human weirdness. There is the middle-aged, female Andy Warhol-lookalike, Deborah, who is totally self-absorbed and uncontained. There is Januz, a crazed and hysterical glass blowing perfectionist, a 23-year-old funky artist, a manic, gorgeous conceptual artist who made “poverty”-inspired tableware with holes in it (Yes! She did!) and a collection of other most interesting glass blowers. Who would have thought?
The space is a huge, sexy glass blowing forge, with “glory holes”, anneal fridges, fires, tubes, cutters, corks, buckets, goggles, shelves of coloured glass and a pristine white gallery box for contestants to display their pieces.
And there is this brilliant opportunity to see how glass is made, manipulated, cut, shaped, blown, coloured and joined. It is awesome. And so delicate. Often a big, almost finished piece ends up in shards on the floor. That’s how it goes.
But ultimately what I love about this show is its total, unashamed artistic pretentiousness. The hilariously highbrow titles of the pieces. The completely indulgent tears of the competitors. The outrageousness of their struggles. I love it.
I cannot wait for the next season. Move aside Project Runway. Move aside The Great British Sewing Bee. Bring it on Blown Away.
What: Blown Away
Read more: The Guardian review of Blown Away