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If you made the same foolish mistake I did—that is, watching all of the new season of The Great British Bake Off in one sitting—I imagine that you’re also in the same boat I am: surrounded by six thousand crumpled Pepperidge Farms whatever-flavored-cookie bags without a thing to watch on television.

Well, here’s some excellent protein-related news!

In the run-up to the election, you might have missed the September launch of The American Barbecue Showdown. If so, I urge you to take a gander. (That’s almost a goose joke, but they never actually barbecue a goose and I can’t figure out—spoiler alert—an iguana joke right now.)

The structure of it is identical to GBBO. Everyone is nice to each other in almost the same way (though there is just the occasional trash talk; BBQ is literally a blood sport, after all), so it does a pretty good job of helping you to taper off from the GBBO sugar-high. If it’s slightly less engaging than Bake Off at times, it’s largely because whatever the BBQers are cooking up is usually in a closed smoker for, oh, nine hours and it’s a little tricky to make a closed smoker visually compelling (except when they burst into flames, which happens!).

Trigger warning: there’s a lot of meat. And I mean a lot of meat. Meat at its rawest, most … meatlike stage. It’s the sort of show where—when asked to cook a vegetable side dish—practically every single contestant grabs bacon first and starts slicing away. There’s a whole episode devoted to cooking less traditional meats, so unless you happen to be Granny Clampett and have some thoughts about how best to grill a possum, you can leave the room for a second helping of quinoa salad during that part. I did!

I’ll also mention that some bits in the first episode are subtitled. Not because it’s in any language other than English, but because there’s such a tangly thicket of (mostly) Southern accents, there are stretches where you have no idea what anyone is saying. After the first episode, you get used to it and the subtitles stop. But really, I knew what they were saying all along, y’all. Signed, I’m from Goldsboro, North Cackalacky—where BBQ is pork, the sauce is vinegar based, and that’s the best damned kind. Don’t start.

The Great American Barbecue Showdown is currently available on Netflix. All the meat is available at your local supermarket, except for maybe the possum.

About The Author

DG Strong took up knitting in 2014. He lives in Nashville with his sister, her rat terrier and a hound dog named Opal. He has a blog of drawings and faintly ridiculous rambling called The Psychopedia—there are worse ways to spend your afternoon.


  • Thanks DG, this review had me cackling with laughter. I’ll have to see if this show is available in the UK.

  • Three cheers to my newly adopted home state of North Cackalacky where I’m totally embracing the vinegar based pork BBQ!!

  • I watched this when it came out and I agree, it’s great fun! Love your assessment of the side dishes!

  • My Joy of Cooking cookbook, from the fifties (or so) has possum! Also squirrel and other American bush meat.
    My mom may have something to say about that, but I think her least fave was duck that her father brought home, and maybe taking out a chicken or two. Since, as she reminded me, during the Great Depression, everybody in Baton Rouge had a vegetable garden and a chicken run in the backyard.

  • Love this! Adding to my watch list now. Also a native North Carolinian. Lexington Style all the way!

  • Reminds of how the PBS series “The Story of English” subtitled Yorkshire farmers and Chesapeake Bay fishermen.

  • Dear MDK, if you accomplish nothing else (other then your stellar yarns and newsletters and stuff) you have got to get DG Strong back to that blog! I will be remembering bits and pieces for the rest of the weekend and getting a stomach ache from suppressed laughter. Thanks!

    • As a Greensboro native, its vinegar (and Cole slaw on the bun) all the way for me! Another bingeable show from the GBBS producers is The Great Pottery Throwdown on HBO Max.

      • Oh I love the Great Pottery Throwdown – I managed to watch most of it on YouTube a while back – I didn’t know it was in HBO Max or I would have written about that instead!

  • I will watch with glee and share with my Mississippi brother-in-law, who while looking out at a fox squirrel at our farm last week mused “he looks like he’s got a fair amount of meat on him” and sounded hungry.

  • Not to quibble, but someone has to stand up for the deliciousness of Texas BBQ! 😉
    This sounds like great watching, though!

  • I’m from NC too and what you said is the only way! Unfortunately I live in a state where “barbecue” is a verb.

  • Let’s hear it my fellow North Cackalakians! I laugh every time I see subtitles for southern accents because it is music to my ears. I am a Lexington style person myself but it is fun to live in a place with several different styles to try, and you don’t have to go that far to sample them.

  • If the show is even half as entertaining as your review it’ll be a big hit!

  • “…spoiler alert- an iguana joke…”

  • Wish Netflix would acquire The Great American Baking Show. Not a fan of BBQ. But going through the GBBS a second time around. And knitting.

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