With the arrival of Halloween comes the unyielding allure of sugar. This leads many of us to stock up on candy and attach ourselves to our television screens in pursuit of binge-watching Halloween Wars, Halloween Baking Championship and other Food Network standbys. For those craving something darker, bolder and freakier, “The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell” may be what moves the Ouija board.
This unapologetically quirky Netflix original series profiles Christine McConnell, a renowned baker and cake decorator, as she fills her home with beautifully made treats while simultaneously keeping her three animal colleagues on their best behavior. The show can be thought of as The Addams Family meets Halloween Wars Meets Good Housekeeping magazine.
Curious Creations manages to seamlessly blend Martha Stewart-style instruction with kitschy, episodic storylines that don’t require a lot of critical thinking. This blending of elements makes for a one-of-a-kind series that fully commits to its fantastical and wicked style.
Christine McConnell actually plays herself and she really is the dark 50’s housewife of your dreams. She is a wonderful mixture of a sweet motherly nature while also having some similar moral characteristics of a serial killer.
Rosie is a hybrid animal that resembles a Raccoon and was brought back to life by Christine after being gnarled to death in a trash compactor. She is by far the loudest character and has dialogue that is similar to nails on a chalkboard. Her jokes and general being plays way too hard into a very immature and burdensome character that’s hard to find appealing. If you’ve ever wondered what an Egyptian cat deity was like, Rankle is your answer. There is no shortage of quick wit and snarky, high-brow comments from this mummified cat Christine brought back to life. Him and Rosie are the absolute polar opposite of each other which makes the dialogue between them either provide a good giggle or is as annoying as listening to siblings bicker. Edgar is a new addition to this menagerie of a family, and we can assume that he is a werewolf sort of creature but it is never specifically stated. Though he is only given lines sparingly, he is a big, absolutely lovable, oaf of a character.
The addition of puppet characters is a surprisingly wonderful quirk of the show. This trio of marionette rejects add a heaping serving of heart and, with the addition of Christine, make a lovely, twisted tapestry of a found family. Though the chemistry of the characters can also feel somewhat patched together, there is something in the campiness of the characters that makes this forgivable.
Christine’s talent is undeniable as she coaches the viewer through numerous edible projects designed to amaze. The work she demonstrates ranges from modest ideas, such as “bones” made from pretzel rods, peanut butter and white chocolate, to professional showpieces, most notably a giant gingerbread house with endless decoration. In one memorable scene, the characters use a Ouija board in an effort to summon the dead. Once they are finished, it is revealed that the board is in fact a cookie, which the group then smashes and eats.
The problem with some of the larger projects is that they are far too advanced for a vast majority of bakers. Also, the instruction is too brief for the viewer to gain an accurate perception of the work and technique involved in creating such projects. Materials such as airbrushes, isomalt (a sugar substitute) and candy glass are difficult to find, thus further diminishing the plausibility of creating these pieces at home.
The small plots that run through the episodes certainly aren’t the reason to watch the show but they do offer an experience unlike any other cooking show. The stories aren’t designed to be particularly gripping but offer some time for stronger character interactions and a pleasant break from the attention-demanding cooking segments. We see things like Christine trying to appease her neighbors, wooing a man she meets at her grandmother’s grave and throwing a surprise going -away-to-the-insane-asylum party for her cousin. Those are just a few of the events that occur in these episodes. The show is highly aware and unapologetic for its corny, intentionally overdone nature and, for the most part, it really works with the campy feel they are aiming for.
Curious Creations is certainly an acquired taste. Those willing to go along with the series’s wonderfully wacky antics will be rewarded with an entertaining thirty minutes and, perhaps, a stash of new skills. The show is perfect for the Halloween enthusiast who goes overboard every year.