Netflix’s The Big Flower Fight is kind of The Great British Bake Off but for plant enthusiasts. The premise of the show is essentially that eclectic pairs of florists, gardeners and artists are thrown into the thunder dome of floristry and topiary to create giant sculptural, plant-based creations. The show is equal parts edifying and entertaining, making for an enjoyable experience for people who are interested in plants and floristry, but I suspect it lacks appeal for others.
The entertainment value of the show stems largely from character progression throughout the series. The highlights among the cast are probably Andi, a loving and sweet soul; the eccentric artsy duo of best friends, Henck and Yan, the bubbly and eager-to-please florist Sarah, and finally; Jim, the emotionally vulnerable underdog of the season. The cast is just a really loveable bunch, and you can tell that they love what they do. Interestingly, I read in an online review (which, by the way, gave the show a mediocre rating) that some prefer to skip the scenes of the contestants working in order to skip straight to seeing the beautiful fruits of the contestants’ labour. Personally, I think doing so detracts from our understanding and investment in the contestants’ progress, thus detracting from over all enjoyment of the show. This show deserves a fair chance for you to fall in love with the contestants.
What I will say about the hosts, though, is that I don’t think they add anything particularly new, interesting, or exciting to the show. Thus, I can only say I’m unsure why they’re being kept on the producers’ payroll. The hosts, Natasha Demetriou and Vic Reeves, are not unlikeable in any way, they’re just not that entertaining to watch. In fact, watching the regular judge, Kristen Griffith-VanderYacht, talk to the contestants and explain their assignment is a lot more entertaining to watch, because he has the knowledge required to critique the initial concepts of the sculptures while contestants are working, while Demetriou and Reeves essentially remind contestants of the assignment and state the obvious.
Speaking of judges, it’s great to see big names like Simon Lycett among the list of guest judges. The judging on the show, as a result of this, is generally insightful and always fair. What I will say, though, is that I had just one tiny disagreement with their judging, in that I think Andrew and Ryan’s flower mobile should have won the flower mobile episode. The judges stated that the contestants did not use enough flowers, but I would argue their mobile had more than enough flowers. Did they numerically use less flowers than the other contestants? Absolutely. Yet their design was innovative, and visually, they created a mobile with infinite flowers inside of it using mirrors. However, this was of little consequence to the over all plot of the show, so I’m not too caught up in the judging decision. Besides, who am I to question the wisdom of the judges?
While the judging was always fair, it was clear that the challenges put some of the contestants at an advantage and other at a disadvantage. For example, in the challenge wherein contestants had to make giant animals out of grasses alone, the focus was largely on trimming the grass to make it mirror the texture of the animal’s fur. This favoured the father and son pair Ralph and Jim, since Ralph works as a groundskeeper outdoors at a private school. Similarly, the flower dress challenge put Raymond and Chanelle at an advantage, since Chanelle is a clothing designer. Of course, the outcome of the challenge wasn’t always correlated with each team’s initial skillset, but it was still a little unfair when it came down to it.
The plant choices that the contestants were given were also rather unfair. Perhaps one of my biggest disappointments was the early elimination of houseplant enthusiast duo Nick and Taylor (mostly because Nick was so easy on the eyes). The two were put at a considerable disadvantage by the lack of houseplants to work with. This means that they essentially went into each challenge with no idea about the materials they’d be using to make their sculptures. I think it would have been cool to see them make a rich forest green “velvet” gown out of the leaves of a Scindapsus pictus with a large, flowing train made from Philodendron gloriosum. That being said, I think it was fair enough that the show made a choice not to include houseplants for some of these challenges. I don’t think I would’ve had the heart to cut off the leaves of houseplants for arranging purposes, and I’m sure bulk buying houseplants must be more expensive than bulk buying fairly easy to grow ornamental grasses and cut flowers.
Over all, the show was good fun to watch, provided you got past the first 2 episodes, which were just a little slow paced. It’s hard to give it a rating, because I know I’m biased because of how much I love plants. Nonetheless, if I had to give it a rating out of 5, I’d say it sits around the 3.5/5 mark. Ultimately, if there’ll be a season two, I’ll definitely make time to watch it, and I’d recommend that you do the same.