‘Blown Away’: A Netflix show with a fitting title

Blown Away, a show originally aired in Canada, is now available in Netflix with its latest two seasons (Image is free used from pixabay.com).

In recent years, the popularity of reality competition shows has skyrocketed. Many people crave entertainment that is low stress, easy to follow, and able take their minds away from the hardships of everyday life. Netflix’s Blown Away does just that. Blown Away is a quirky show where viewers can experience intriguing competition and beautiful artwork. 

The most unique aspect of Blown Away is the subject matter, which is glass. Each season, 10 glass artists are brought to the largest hot shop in North America where they compete against each other in various competitions creating beautiful pieces of glass artwork. Blown Away is hosted by Nick Uhas, a well known YouTuber and former Big Brother contestant, and it is judged by renowned glass artist, Katherine Gray, who is also an associate professor at California State University. The artists’ main goal is making the best piece of glass artwork in each competition so that they can make it to the final round and win the grand prize: a residency to create and showcase their artwork at the Corning Museum of Glass. This opportunity could be life changing for the contestant selected. 

Although the first season of Blown Away debuted in 2019, the show has recently started to gain more popularity. The series originated in Canada and was first aired on a Canadian television channel before being released on Netflix. Today, Blown Away has a 100% critics’ review on Rotten Tomatoes and a 7 out of 10 stars on IMDb. Reality competition series have been trending recently, and Blown Away is no different. The friendly competition and low drama of Blow Away has been compared to other popular shows like The Great Pottery Throw Down or The Great British Bake Off. 

Each episode, constants are required to create a piece of glass that resonates with the specific theme of the given round. The themes of the competitions vary from creative glass pop art sculptures and cartoons to more technical vases and usable functioning objects. Some competitions require the artists to think outside of the box using themes that can be interpreted in a myriad of ways. This aspect really emphasizes how there is a deeper level of creativity and uniqueness that is necessary in creating art, no matter what medium is being used. 

Blown Away has been particularly praised for its outstanding cinematography. The main aspect of the show features the intensive labor behind creating glass artwork. This is nicely contrasted with the calmness and beauty of the finished pieces. Viewing the finished pieces of glass is incredibly enticing for the audience. The constants use a wide range of colors and techniques to create their artwork, but it is impossible to know what it will look like until it is finished. Because glass needs to be at such high temperatures in order to be mended, the heat will often distort the colors, making the final product a surprise to the audience. Each piece of artwork is truly unique in its style and creative inspiration but the essence and beauty is captured perfectly with the use of lighting and camera angles. 

The cameras do not only capture the beauty of the artwork, they engage the viewer in the complex process of creating glass art. The contestants have access to everything they need to work with glass including blow pipes, which are used for blowing glass, glory holes which are extremely hot furnaces used to heat the glass to get it to a liquid state, blow torches used to keep the glass warm while it is being sculpted, and a multitude of tools used for creating glass artwork. The constants are also allowed to work with assistants since many aspects of glass require more than one person working at a time. One of the most intriguing parts of creating glass art is the risk. Because of the fragility of the material, the glass creations can shatter at any moment. This creates an intense aspect of competition because even the best contestants can have major calamities. Many of the artists are forced to think on their feet which stretches the bounds of creativity and creates captivating entertainment for the viewers. 

Glassblowers use long metal tubes called “blowpipes” to blow hot glass bubbles that can be molded and shaped into sculptural works (Image is free use from pixabay.com).

Although Blown Away has received a lot of deserved recognition and praise, there have been some critiques and controversies regarding the judging and casting. Many viewers believed that the winner of the first season didn’t deserve to win. Two of the biggest aspects that went into the judging of each competition was technique used in creating the art as well as the creativity behind it. It became clear through the run of the first season that the judges tended to favor the creativity aspect more than the technical aspect, which some viewers disagreed with. Some viewers also felt as though the cast for the first season was portrayed as pretentious and that the show was trying to push a certain agenda, forcing diversity and equality which at times felt unnaturally concocted. There were critiques that the first season winner, Deborah Czeresko, was predetermined as a winner from the beginning simply because of her feminist views and unique personality, and that there were other, more deserving members of the cast. However,  Blown Away’s consideration of a diverse casting was still praised. Czeresko has said that her goal of participating on Blow Away was to inspire women, since glass blowing is a predominantly male occupation, which viewers agree she has achieved with her own ideas and creations that were superior to others.

When the second season of Blow Away was released last January, viewers found it less controversial and more enjoyable. Although both seasons are relatively similar, kinks from the first season were worked out making the second season more appealing to more people. The majority of the cast were seen as friendly and quirky, and the producers were able to keep a diverse environment without it feeling unnatural. The general consensus was that the winner of the second season of Blown Away was deserving. Although there were still some complaints about inadequate judging, it is also important to remember that all art is subjective. 

Since the second season of Blown Away was released recently, Netflix has not yet renewed the show for a third season. However, the positive ratings of this series have left the producers confident that there will be a third season, with hopes that it will be released sometime in 2022.  As fans eagerly await the next season, more viewers continue to stumble across the relatively new show, becoming instantly hooked to the captivating and unique world of glassblowing.