Blown Away: Blown Away (Season 1)
July 17, 2019 5:32 PM - Season 1 (Full Season) - Subscribe

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. (Netflix premiere, Canadian TV)

There's already a good FPP going on the blue, but I figured this should be on Fanfare too so there's an open thread for anyone who finds the show later on after the FPP closes.
posted by oh yeah! (23 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I started the thread on this over on the Blue, and I thought about doing it here on FanFare, but it was really the links to people's websites that I wanted to record for posterity! I kept trying to google up the different artists as I watched the show to see more of what they do normally. They have tons of neat stuff in their artist galleries, a lot of which is really different from what they did on the show.

It was definitely a fun, bingeable show -- especially with the short episodes. I would have maybe liked them to be longer -- I would have loved to see more of the process of each piece being made.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:53 AM on July 18, 2019 [1 favorite]

I really wanted this to be cooler than it was. It seemed so much like Chopped! and all those shows with manufactured drama instead of cool glass blowing stuff that I turned it off. Does it get better?
posted by biscotti at 4:16 PM on July 18, 2019 [2 favorites]

I started the thread on this over on the Blue, and I thought about doing it here on FanFare, but it was really the links to people's websites that I wanted to record for posterity!

It'll probably get more initial views as an FPP than it would have if you'd posted it here - but I figure anyone who finds the show on Netflix a month from now isn't going to think to search all of Mefi for the show name and will just look it up on Fanfare, so I wanted to get it into the index.

I really wanted this to be cooler than it was. It seemed so much like Chopped! and all those shows with manufactured drama instead of cool glass blowing stuff that I turned it off. Does it get better?

They probably spend a little more time on showing the pieces as the number of contestants dwindle, but I don't think the format changes particularly much from episode to episode.
posted by oh yeah! at 4:40 AM on July 19, 2019

I enjoyed this a lot! I wish the episodes had been longer so they could spend a bit more time talking about technique and actually showing glass blowing.

I loved the diversity of styles and approach.
posted by smoke at 5:07 AM on July 19, 2019 [3 favorites]

I really loved this show. It did seem a tad bit slight on the details in terms of glass-blowing (it'd be better if they followed more the Great Pottery Throw-Down on BBC(?), where each week was a different technique) but I loved the various styles of all the artists. I was certain that one of the contestants was going to win, despite getting "I'm better than everyone and I'm trying so hard to be humble about it" vibes, but that contestant didn't win, so I was happy about that, too!
posted by xingcat at 6:04 AM on July 19, 2019

I adored this show. I watched it because I heard that it was like Top Chef except full of flighty artists, so one competitor who was tasked with making a food object just said, "I don't really like eating, so I decided to make a fairy garden instead." Love it. So many people came in with confident visions, and there was more artistic expression than you typically see on these skill-based reality shows.

I am a huge fan of the person who won.
posted by painquale at 8:39 PM on July 21, 2019

I've been loving the show. One thing that jumped out to me that I wasn't expecting was how much I thought the art pieces were really evocative and moving. Even on screen I was surprised that they were able to really communicate so effectively.
posted by Carillon at 10:07 AM on July 22, 2019

Really enjoyed the artist processes plus no terrible reality show personalities. Though there was yelling, and some rudeness for sure.
So many hot torches and ovens and no burns!
posted by Glinn at 4:55 PM on July 22, 2019

I think this thread has been open long enough for us to be able to say who won or lost. Anyone who doesn't want SPOILERS, remove this thread from your Recent Activity.

I love how unglamorous all the women (contestants and assistants) looked. It didn't strike me until the episode where Momoko got eliminated - for the judging, she'd gotten all glammed up with sparkly eye-shadow, and it registered to me that there'd been no makeup on anyone in the show before, because of course you're not going to bother putting on makeup when your working in such a treacherously hot environment where it's all just going to melt off and get into your eyes.
posted by oh yeah! at 4:26 AM on July 23, 2019 [3 favorites]

One thing I read about the show was that it filmed in Hamilton ON during a fall that was unexpectedly blistering hot. The workroom was air conditioned but between the ovens, the lights, and the temperature outside the HVAC was not keeping up.
posted by jacquilynne at 4:32 AM on July 23, 2019 [1 favorite]

I am so pleased about the winner! Loved that the show did overly dumb down the arty-elements.
posted by stray at 7:59 PM on July 28, 2019

I watched a couple of these and they really don't work for me. The judging/elimination process is SUPER truncated, and the construction part feels so vague; there's not much sense of things coming together, it doesn't really feel like I'm watching some things get made from start to finish. I really dislike the host as well; surface-y reasons side, he's like just like a generic presenter with no expertise or opinions about glass blowing, like they just grabbed some guy who was auditioning for the Food Network or something.
posted by fleacircus at 3:34 AM on July 29, 2019 [1 favorite]

I also didn't really warm to the presenter. Am I the only one who thought they could've invested in a diction coach for him? He sounded like he was speaking with a mouthful of marshmallows half the time.
posted by catch as catch can at 4:14 AM on July 29, 2019

I really dislike the host as well; surface-y reasons side, he's like just like a generic presenter with no expertise or opinions about glass blowing, like they just grabbed some guy who was auditioning for the Food Network or something.

This seems really common in this kind of show -- the host is just some guy (or gal). I think they're meant to be an audience stand-in and ask questions and not know things, but then that role doesn't always work out well. Especially with a show as short as this one, there's not a lot of space for that. I think this would be a better show if it were running at 45 minutes instead of 22.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:34 AM on July 29, 2019 [1 favorite]

Fleacircus: I had the same problem with the judging and construction for the first four episodes or so; it got somewhat better as the season progressed. I think the biggest problem the show has is that it really wants to be an hour per episode, so the first episodes don't have a chance to breathe.

I wouldn't say you ever exactly get the start-to-finish feeling, but the show does approach that, toward the end.

The host never gets any better, of course.
posted by Spathe Cadet at 7:43 AM on July 29, 2019 [1 favorite]

Yeah! It would be a lot better if it had more time and they could really go through the creations one by one and talk to the contestants, and maybe spice up the elimination reveal a bit.

I can't think of a reality competition show where the host is so person-off-the-street, hmm. I suppose the British Bake-off gals are kind of lovably not expert.
posted by fleacircus at 8:44 AM on July 29, 2019

I'm glad the episodes were so short if only because there was less time for interpersonal drama, but obviously that cuts down on how much of the process we get to see, so I'm ambivalent.

Deborah completely rubbed me the wrong way with some of the things she said ("as women we share X chromosomes", "this will finally let men carry babies") and god that soured me so much.

I liked Annette, Janusz, and Alex the best. Annette's heart in the lighting challenge was lovely, especially the gradient of the glass. Janusz was great just to see a master of the craft at work, and Alex had a really clean style, and I really enjoyed seeing what he came up with.
posted by lesser weasel at 9:11 PM on July 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

I really liked Deborah, her approach was always the most interesting even when I didn't get the result. The egg and meat piece didn't connect with me, but the judge really liked it.

Never gonna hook that womb up to my body though - talk to me when it plugs into the wall.
posted by InfidelZombie at 10:35 AM on July 31, 2019

I started out being kind of annoyed by Deborah, but by the end I was SO happy that she won! I really loved her unvarnished confidence in her art, how she would be like "I love my piece! It should win!" It was so awesome to see a woman be unafraid to say that. She always had an odd way of interpreting each challenge, but she had the skill to make it work.
Also, I thought her potatoes were brilliant. All of the pieces that week were great, but hers was my favorite.

I do agree that the host was totally superfluous. The main judge was awesome.
posted by exceptinsects at 1:31 PM on August 9, 2019 [2 favorites]

I binged it over the last two nights, and was thoroughly delighted.

I wasn't taken by Deborah, but she totally won me over, and I thought she deserved her win. I wasn't a fan of Janusz (whose creative drive was pretty weak, comparatively, and his false modesty was a bit grating), but there was no-one that I actively disliked.

But yeah, there were some gaps in how they showed the manufacturing process, which was perhaps inevitable given how short the episodes were (which I am not complaining about). Things went into the annealing oven in parts, and then you'd see them assembled in the gallery, and there were definitely some steps missing in there. But that's a quibble.

And -- AND -- it was shot at the Cotton Factory, which is a few blocks from my house! SO EXCITED. They are doing a lot of good work over there to bring that old industrial site back to life as (primarily) an artists' colony, and this is just tremendous for them. So pleased!

I'm a big glass collector, and I know a *bit* about blowing, so this was right up my alley. A+++, would watch a second series.
posted by Capt. Renault at 11:46 AM on August 22, 2019 [1 favorite]

My spouse and I just watched it. Agreeing with you exceptinsects about how great those potatoes were. Her piece actually reminded me of Ursula K. Le Guin's essay on the carrier bag theory of fiction, in a way I have a hard time articulating.

Also -- and this is very minor -- it was really fun/funny to see host Nick Uhas ask the futurist (Jesse) "Is this the future?" about the artists' pieces. My spouse suggested a one-hour show where the two just walk around and look at various things in various settings and Nick is asking "Jesse: is this the future?" over and over.

People who liked the "people making stuff with fire" aspect of this: please do consider Forged in Fire which has approximately no critical interpersonal commentary! And each ep stands alone.
posted by brainwane at 6:03 PM on January 6, 2020

Neat - Season 2 of Blown Away starts streaming on 1/22/21. Vulture - Enter the Glory Hole of the Blown Away Season-Two Trailer. (or, YouTube Trailer link)
posted by oh yeah! at 10:08 AM on January 6, 2021 [1 favorite]

Late to the party here, as I only just found this on Netflix (UK). I love creative competition shows, like Top Chef, the Pottery Throwdown, Project Runway, Sewing Bee, and I love glass, so I thought I'd enjoy it, and I did - very much.

I was amazed at the creativity of the artists and baffled sometimes at the judging - particularly in the decanter challenge where Alexander's pieces were too big to lift and a total, leaky fail, yet he stayed. Although many of her opinions were controversial, I was rooting for Deborah, particularly as she was the last woman standing.

Glass-blowing doesn't seem to be a discipline that suits a shrinking violet, as there's so much that has to be done RIGHT NOW by the assistants (opening furnace doors, snipping dripping glass) while the artist holds a massive pole with a bubble of molten glass. It was all very dangerous-looking and quite exciting.

Looking forward to season 2.
posted by essexjan at 3:23 PM on January 20, 2021

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