The Great Pottery Throw Down

TV review by
Jenny Nixon, Common Sense Media
The Great Pottery Throw Down TV Poster Image
Pottery competition show is gentle, if formulaic, fun.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

Kids can learn about the history of pottery and various techniques.

Positive Messages

Contestants demonstrate skill and technique. The competition is friendly.

Positive Role Models

The show's participants come from various educational, cultural, and economic backgrounds but all have one thing in common: a passion for pottery. There's a good mix of genders on the show as well. The male judge occasionally breaks into happy tears at the sight of the contestants' projects -- it's very warm, and nice to see an otherwise gruff-looking man expressing these emotions onscreen.

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff

A few references to the "sensuality" of working with clay, some suggestive hand movements while working to create a mug handle. A project is referred to as "vaginal." These references are mild and most likely to go over little kids' heads.

Language
Consumerism

It's a competition show with a cash prize.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Great Pottery Showdown is a warm, family-friendly competition show in the mold of The Great British Baking Show. It's very British, in that the contestants are uniformly very polite and positive -- there's none of the backstabbing drama that typifies certain American reality shows. There are a few cheeky jokes about the sensuality of working with clay, and an episode where one of the home potters cracks wise about a fellow contestant's project looking "vaginal," but it's fairly innocent and not an ongoing innuendo-fest.

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What's the story?

THE GREAT POTTERY SHOWDOWN follows the same basic premise as its sister series (they share a production company), The Great British Baking Show -- only instead of a sunlight-filled tent in a field, contestants gather inside a circa-1888 industrial pottery complex in Stoke-on-Trent, England. Instead of whipping egg whites and praying their cakes don't fall, the potters featured on Showdown wait days upon days to see if the glaze they chose for a pottery project turned out the way they wanted or if a serving dish they carefully sculpted developed a crack while drying out.

The mediums the contestants work with might be different -- clay vs. flour and sugar -- but the structure is the same: each episode features one major challenge, then one or two smaller challenges -- usually a technical challenge and a "Throw Down" where contestants sit at their pottery wheel and attempt a speed-based project. The contestants are a diverse group of men and women who are passionate about making things, and who cheer for each others' victories while humbly accepting their losses. Host Sara Cox offers jokes and moral support, while judges Keith Brymer Jones and Kate Malone bring the constructive criticism -- and in some cases, happy tears. At the end of each episode, one contestant is named "Top Potter" while another is eliminated. The last clay-handler standing will be crowned Britain's best home potter.

Is it any good?

If you're into reality shows that focus on creativity rather than cutthroat competition, this mellow series is a great choice for a comfort-binge. The Great Pottery Throw Down does a bang-up job teaching the average viewer -- who may not know a kiln from a crumb cake -- the ins and outs of handling clay and the history of the artform without being so dry as to feel like a lecture. While many viewers watching a baking show could follow a recipe and make a cake without major incident, not everyone has access to pottery wheels, clay, a rainbow of glazes, and a 2381-degree Fahrenheit kiln. It's a very niche genre of making, and the artfulness and talent on display by these home potters make for an engaging and unpredictable show.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the similarities between this show and The Great British Baking Show. The format is the same, but does the tension level differ when you're watching people bake cakes or watching them throw a vase on a pottery wheel? Is one more exciting than the other?

  • Talk about what inspires people from various walks of life to choose pottery as a hobby. Did watching the show inspire you to break out some clay and get crafting?

  • How do you think this show would be different if it was set in America, with American contestants?

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love competitions

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