The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell: Review

christine mcconell

Netflix’s recent spooky additions during October this year included a baking show called The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell.

Christine McConnell, the show’s main character and real-life baker, gained recognition as a self-taught baker who’s Instagram baking posts showcase her creepy (and delicious) desserts. Her show on Netflix is an interesting mix of baking how-to and spooky, puppet-filled plot.

I enjoyed the quirky, dark humor of the show and the subtle world-building. In fact, the two things this show does best are world-building and baking.

Watching this show will definitely make you hungry as you watch McConnell make her spooky (and delicious) creations. She makes everything from chocolate-peanut butter “bones” in the first episode to a cake replica of her house. Seriously. McConnell's house

10/10 for edible spooky houses.

She also makes some other craft projects throughout the course of the show, including items like this creepy candle with a face, and a stunning, hand-made red dress for a date. There’s no denying that McConnell is incredibly talented at making lovely, spooky-themed creations, both in real life and on this show. By taking the time to show how she makes these items, the mood tends to stay pretty light-hearted and relaxed.

creepy candle

The other thing Curious Creations does well is world-building. From set design to spooky characters, the world (and, specifically, the house) McConnell lives in is fascinating. The subtle layers of world building keep you guessing at the mysteries of this universe. How did McConnell come to live in this house? What is the rest of her family like? (To this question, we do see some answers in later episodes). How did all of these creatures come to be here? What or who is Christine McConnell exactly? And what kind of world does she live in? So many questions.

In one episode we see Christine in her bedroom, just waking up for the morning. It seems that she is “sleeping” with her eyes open, looking almost dead. This small detail gives interesting hints about the world of Curious Creations. I genuinely loved the idea of this creepy house and the kind-hearted, though dark and mysterious, woman who lives in it. I also love how she treats the creatures who live in her house like family, bring in the trope of the gathered-family and true warmth to their relationships and interactions.

McConell

From details like the spider-web cupboards to the reappearing skull (of a previous mailman, apparently) and all the creatures living around the house, world-building gets a 10/10 here. Quirky, spooky, and mysterious, Curious Creations aces this test.

On the other hand, while I enjoyed watching The Curious Creations, I did feel like it took its genre-breaking a little too far. In some ways, breaking the genre molds of typical baking shows and typical spooky shows is what makes Curious Creations so unique and fun. But breaking the genres like this comes with a price.

Curious Creations doesn’t fit very well in any genre. Is it a baking show? Yes, but it doesn’t give quite enough detail to become actually useful as a baking show. I felt that a few too many steps were jumped over in the recipes for anyone to actually try to follow along with unless they are a professional baker with professional tools. In an attempt to showcase McConnell’s creations to the fullest, the show jumps over a few too many minor steps to be a really good baking show.

Is this show a children’s show? The rating is PG, but some of the content seems a little bit too raunchy or scary to make it a really good children’s show.  I mean, serial killers welding axes does seem a little scarier than PG, and let’s not even talk about the time they tortured a neighbor in the basement. (I’m also not going to talk about my feelings on Rose (an undead raccoon) as a character. I understand that she was written to be obnoxious, but she crosses the line into highly annoying a few too many times for me to like her very much. I’m not sure she helps to make this a “kids show” either, although they might find her the funniest of all audiences.)

rose

Is it a fictional, spooky show with a plot? Technically yes, but the plot is left underdeveloped so the show can focus on the baking. I wish they would have given more screen time to some of the other quirky characters living in McConnell’s house and addressed more some of the other intriguing plot points. By always cutting back to the kitchen so McConnell can talk about baking, the plot felt like it was cut a little bit short.

Breaking these barriers leaves Curious Creations in a strange, new territory for a spooky show. Who is the intended audience for this show? Children? Parents and children together? Young adults looking for something slightly spooky? I can’t help but feel that all audiences will be left a little confused and disappointed by how this show has divided itself between baking and fiction.

Final Thoughts:

If you love baking and spooky shows you will enjoy this one! It has a lot of super interesting concepts surrounding it that add to the mood of the show and help make it truly unique and fun. I really enjoyed both Christine’s baking and the idea of her house, but I didn’t fall in love with the show itself.

It is still a really good show to watch to get in the spooky mood!

Happy watching!

Magi: Sinbad no Bouken

sinbad

Adventure of Sinbad (or Magi: Sinbad no Bouken) is an anime coming from the same author as Magi and works as a prequel to the longer series. This show is only 13 episodes and is a fun fantasy/adventure anime focusing on world exploration. Yet, in many ways I found myself being disappointed in the plot and characters.

Our hero is a young Sinbad who sets out on his mission to start a new country that fights for justice for all citizens (this goal comes from his backstory: his father was killed when he was sent to war unwillingly). To do this Sinbad seeks power from mysteriously appearing landmarks called Dungeons (inside of which resides a fabled ‘King Power’). He also explores the many countries near him and meets their citizens (usually gaining a comrade or two along the way).

For me, there were three problems with this anime.

1st: Plot holes and Time Jumps

Several times throughout my viewing of Sinbad I found that the plot jumped rapidly forward during the most interesting and pivotal moments. Key examples of this are when Sinbad is working to capture the first dungeon and when he is given a month to get 1,000 gold coins.

During his dungeon capture, he successfully escapes the first room and when the door opens we see a long hallway with some more dragons still lurking inside. Instead of giving us the chance to see more of his resolve and cleverness to escape and make it to the throne room, the plot skips slightly forward and he is suddenly in the throne room. I realize this anime has a rapidly moving plot, but I was expecting him to fight for it at least a little more fiercely.

Again, when Sinbad arrives in the country of Reim, he is given an ultimatum by a merchant named Haran. In order to join the union and legally sell goods in Reim, he must have 1,000 gold coins for the fee, and this must happen in one month’s time before Haran returns to the city.

sinbad shiny

So, Sinbad is left in an unfamiliar city with a nearly impossible task to complete. This sounds like the perfect challenge for our clever and resourceful hero, right? But suddenly the plot skips forward again and we see that one month has already passed. Does Sinbad have the gold coins? No. Furthermore, (seen when he is riding through the city with Haran later and doesn’t even know what the Coliseum is) he seems to know literally nothing about the city he supposedly spent a month living and working in.

I realize that this is just a short anime series developing Sinbad’s character, but the plot jumps left me confused, disappointed, and skeptical of Sinbad himself.

 

2nd: World Exploration and Setting

imuchakk

One of the best things about this anime is the world exploration. Journeying along with Sinbad means we get to see the new people and countries he does. We got to meet the fierce warriors from Imuchakk (a country covered in ice), and the clever merchants from Reim, as well as the citizens of Sinbad’s home country Parthevia.

Yet I would argue that this exploration doesn’t go far enough. We meet these characters and places, but just barely. We are given a stereotype of them and forced to use that to fill in the rest of the information.

For example, the audience is informed that Reim is a country of merchants and traders, yet the only person we really interact with is Haran (later revealed to be from a different country himself). What do the actual people of the country act like? We might never know, considering that every other character who appears is a filler character with no real personality.

 

3rd: Character Motivation

Finally, the character motivation in this series seems unbelievable and completely unrealistic. I found myself unable to shake off my disbelief to fully enjoy the anime.

Let’s start with Sinbad himself. From the beginning, the audience is informed that a special person has been born and that Sinbad has a special power and is a completely unique person who will change the world.

Ok.

That’s fine.

But I need proof.

His goal is to create a new kingdom that will be kind to its citizens. Who will rule this new kingdom? Sinbad himself, of course. My issue is not just that he seeks power, but that nothing in the series seems to even try to make this realistic and show him what a long, hard battle that will be. It’s one thing to have a goal. It’s another to just get handed power because you were born “special” and then to never learn to use it in a cautious way (because… he’s Sinbad, and normal rules don’t apply, I guess?)

The other characters have motivation issues as well. In the Imuchakk arc, we are introduced to Hina (later, Hinahoho) who is trying to become a warrior by killing an Abare Narwhale. Sinbad accidentally steals this moment from him, which leads Hina to seek power from a recently appeared dungeon in order to prove himself. He goes in, actually passionate and determined to prove himself. Yet, by the end of the arc (when Sinbad has captured his second dungeon), Hina has a sudden change of heart and recognizes that he will never be king. He now sees that Sinbad is the true King-Vessel and his destined master. (All in the course of a single episode!)hinahoho

Overall, I did think this was an entertaining and interesting anime. I enjoyed watching it, but I was disappointed with some of the plot holes. This might be because the animators had to tell the story in just 13 episodes (I haven’t read the manga), or it might be because this is just supposed to function as a kind of prequel. But if a story has such an interesting premise, I feel it’s a waste to not explore that more.

sinbad smile.jpg

If you love fantasy adventure stories this might be a good anime to watch! But if you are looking for something a little more serious and thought-provoking this is not the show for you.