Paul Hollywood Became Very Emotional About GBBO's 'Mexican Week' Backlash

Any reality show that has been running for over a decade is bound to have its fair share of controversies, and "The Great British Bake Off" is no exception. The show first aired in 2010 and just finished its 13th season. It has spawned spin-offs across the globe and even had a famous overhaul of iconic judges and presenters.

GBBO also has a certain reputation for dishing out heaps of goofy humor alongside fresh bakes, and while they mostly illicit laughs, some jokes simply don't land. From Matt Lucas' infamous Boris Johnson impersonation that was scrapped before being aired on Netflix due to several complaints (via Decider) to Paul Hollywood declaring that a rainbow bagel challenge was dedicated to the British National Health Service rather than the LGBTQ+ community, several unsavory GBBO moments have made splashes on the internet.

Most recently, however, GBBO came under fire for its "Mexican Week" episode. Swiftly following its Season 13 air date, the show was accused of oversimplifying Mexican culture, and the episode's jokes were called out by viewers for being ignorant at best. As one Twitter user put it, "Mexican week on the #GBBO is so cringingly racially and culturally insensitive I have to ask how it was approved." Besides embarrassing mispronunciations and problematic stereotypes, viewers couldn't get past the show's unwillingness to learn from past mistakes, especially considering this wasn't the first time that the show was accused of being insensitive to other cultures.

Hollywood was 'gutted' by the backlash

Fans may remember GBBO's "Japanese Week" from Season 11, which enraged viewers because contestants used all sorts of flavors from other Asian countries, lumping the entire continent's unique cuisines into one. Then there was "German Week" in Season 12, when German contestant Jürgen Krauss was judged particularly harshly — even though judges, who admitted to "anglicizing" traditional German desserts to fit the needs of the challenge, said his cake was actually one of the best behind the scenes (via Decider).

Considering these past missteps, it was unsurprising when GBBO spent weeks in the headlines for its controversial "Mexican Week" episode. After being slammed by fans online, Hollywood addressed the situation in an interview with Eater, published December 2. "I was gutted. I mean, I was really upset about it," the judge said about the backlash. He explained that the challenges were inspired by his month-long trip to Mexico three weeks before filming, when he worked with several local chefs and enjoyed the many delicacies of Tijuana, Mexico City, Oaxaca, and Cancun.

Believing that the contestants had done a "good job" with the challenges, Hollywood said, "There's not a bad bone in any of the bodies of anyone connected with 'Bake Off' that would want to upset Mexico. And certainly not me, because I love the country." While these were Hollywood's first public words about the controversy, Leith defended "Mexican Week" in an interview from October, telling The New Yorker the show had "no intention to offend."