Making It episode 1 review: Meet Jemma Olson, Jeffrey Rudell, other crafters

Making It episode 1Does NBC have themselves a hit reality franchise in Making It? Let’s cool our jets for a moment here — this is just one episode, but it was a very entertaining one.

The first thing that stood out to us about this show was that, from start to finish, it really was positive, light, and fun. It wasn’t about watching some of the contestants fight or the judges be mean; instead, it was an inspirational show about crafty people doing crafty things.

The basis of the show is pretty simple: It’s really just Top Chef or Ink Master, but with arts and crafts. There are eight contestants who competed in two different challenges over the course of the episode, with the winner of the first getting a patch (hilariously low-budget) as a prize. Someone went home at the end of the episode, and at the end of the six weeks the winner actually will take home a monetary prize.

What makes this show stand out amidst the field is, without a doubt, the presence of Nick Offerman and Amy Poehler as the two hosts. Offerman, aside from being the super-handy Ron Swanson on Parks and Recreation, is a woodworker and a very crafty person in real life. Amy, meanwhile, knows nothing about crafts and that is, in part, what makes this collaboration so fun. The chemistry between these two is literally years in the making and everything from their interaction with the cast to the interstitial moments were nothing short of delightful.

From start to finish, the Making It producers deserve credit for making the most of their time. We were going to criticize the amount of time spent with the actual contestants, but what was so smart is that the show gave them challenges that were actually a reflection of their personality. We got to see who they were thanks in part to the work they produced, especially the second challenge that was designed around creating your own family heirloom. The most heartbreaking moment of the entire episode was hearing Jeffrey Rudell’s story about being disowned by his whole family just for his sexuality; yet, he has so much love around him that he is able to push through it. Even with a sad story like this, having Poehler and Offerman there to offer support was another reminder of why this show is a winner.

The person who was sent home at the end of the episode was Jemma Olson, a grandmother who had a couple of mishaps that included her ultimately bleeding all over her heirloom project. This actually sounds so much gorier and grosser than it was, and the show treated her very well on her way out the door. Handling this elimination in such a humane way is something we wish other reality shows adopted. At the very end, Amy called her a new friend and she got to spend a moment with her and Nick on the patio.

CarterMatt Verdict

While Jemma’s elimination was a bit predictable when things stopped going her way, it doesn’t take away from the enjoyment of Making It as a whole. This is a show with a big heart and a lot of personality, even if structurally it is basically a carbon copy of other reality shows out there.

While it doesn’t change reality TV by any means, Making It is certainly a fun, welcome entry into the genre for anyone who either loves crafts or just wants Amy and Nick on TV again. It’s one of the most pleasant little surprises of the summer.

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