“Eh, it’s not for me.”
That’s the response I got when I sent a friend the trailer for The Big Flower Fight.
Another was worse:
“Honestly, it looks stupid, but if it gets people more interested in plants and flowers, I have to support it.”
My friends are wrong. I love this show. Yeah, it’s silly. It’s a blatant attempt to recreate the rainy Saturday duvet-cozy warm heart feeling of Bake-Off. But I love it.
The show’s both earnest - and goofy AF. I love the characters. Any show about flower arranging has to be queer. Start with the hosts. I hadn’t heard of Kristen Griffith-VanderYacht before this show, but I love his energy. He talks about being a dad and an influence in a recent article for O magazine. I’ve also been enjoying cohost Natasia Demetriou recently in the second season of What We Do in the Shadows, my favorite show about dumb vampires.
The choice of judges has confronted me with my ignorance of floral design. James Alexander Sinclair was the only one I found familiar. I’ve long been a fan of his blog - as well as his project 3 Men Went 2 Mow. I also saw him looking busy at Chelsea last year, but didn’t stop him to talk. Missed opportunity, I know.
The contestants, though, are truly the best bit of The Big Flower Fight. I only knew of one - Farmer Nick, part of the Brooklyn cohort - when I started watching. I’m following them all now. Brooklyn was well represented - but performed poorly on this show. There’s definitely room for American horticulturists to better uphold some standard of excellence to the media.
Honestly, this show felt like a normal person’s real life friend gang. Chanelle with INOIR is a fashion designer who paired up with London florist Raymond to create truly memorable works. Sarah, of Intrigue Designs in Maryland, makes fabulous arrangements with her incredibly patient assistant Jordan. Andi and Helen are estate gardeners with run-down cars in the driveway and impromptu dance parties in the living room.
The gays took the day (naturally). Henck and Yan, absurdly Dutch and Danish (respectively), are a camera crew’s fantasy. Their dedication to absurd fashion is matched only by their execution of well-crafted and memorable installations.
My favorites? Ryan and Andrew - they turned my heart. I loved seeing these guys work together and support each other. Their social media notes that they’re not in a romantic relationship following the show, but are creative partners - a distinction which emphasizes the transience and complicated shading of queer relationships. Watching them made me think about how important it is to enjoy the moment of working together, rather than demanding some kind of permanence.
I wasn’t convinced I’d like this show. I’m not really that interested in flower arranging. I’ve written publicly about how show gardens don’t do that much for me. I struggled with Chelsea. Anything temporary doesn’t seem to fully realize the emotional power or the reality of what it means to work with landscape. My favorite gardens are permanent, integrated into their surroundings - evolved with care in relation to landscape.
But I loved it. This show is adventurous and goofy and - honestly - brave. There’s so much potential for failure here. And, these people create something that’s truly wonderful.
I’m not getting paid for this (email me, Netflix, and I’ll give you my routing number) - but go watch The Big Flower Fight. I think you’ll love it, too.