Why Are We Watching a Glass Blowing Show That’s Only Kind Of Good?
At a time when nothing is predictable, there’s unexpected comfort in ‘low commitment television’
This summer, Netflix served me a treat: a section on my home screen labeled “Low Commitment TV.” Seeing it lit up my overwhelmed, internet-saturated brain — here was a chance to adjust my settings to cruise for a while. It was a welcome surprise, particularly after I had actually noticed my own cravings for programming of a similar nature. Do the robots finally know me better than I know myself? Do I care?
Within this section was a show called Blown Away, which is a reality television competition for glassblowing. The prize money is relatively small, but the stakes seem to be high nonetheless: the winner gets a residency at the Corning Museum of Glass, and while I don’t know much about career growth in the glassblowing world, it sounds like a pretty good opportunity.
How this show came to fruition is beyond me. Does someone at Netflix have an artsy cousin? Did they have a meeting where they literally threw darts at the wall? Drunk? As far as I can tell, glassblowing has never been that high on the mainstream cultural radar. But I’ve learned from Blown Away that it’s captivating, stunning, and seemingly really, really hard. Your clay sculpture isn’t going to break if you look at it funny, but something made out of glass can dissipate from the impact of a distant sneeze. I am very impressed by this craft, and I’ll never look at museum and hotel lobbies the same way again.
What I appreciate most about the show, though, is its predictability. It has a structure and cadence as dependable as a Japanese commuter train. Watching it feels effortless. And in an age of content that thrives on intensity and envelope-pushing (Black Mirror, I’m talking to you), the value of effortlessness is too often overlooked.
I find comfort in television that has no intention to scaring me, keep me in suspense, or kill a character I love.
I need to trust my entertainment — that’s how I relax. With the various disasters large and small that regularly dominate the news cycle, we’re…