Based on the popular Israeli series, “Beauty and the Baker,” ABC’s new show, “The Baker and the Beauty,” has proved to be one of the most LGBT-friendly shows on TV. It’s a charming series with an appealing ensemble, and its pilot episode was shot largely in Atlanta.
The cast was back in town recently for Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD)’s aTVfest. “The Baker and the Beauty” centers on blue-collar baker Daniel Garcia (Victor Rasuk), who works at his family’s business, who turns down his girlfriend’s marriage proposal and begins an improbable relationship with supermodel Noa Hamilton (Nathalie Kelley).
Belissa Escobedo plays Natalie, Daniel’s younger sister, who is realizing she is attracted to women. In the May 4th episode, titled “I Think She’s Coming Out,” Natalie officially comes out to her family.
The actress describes Natalie as someone who is compassionate, strong-willed and very blunt. “She uses all of those to the best of her ability,” Escobedo says. “She is a clever girl. I think initially the brother has some inkling about her but I think for the parents it’s a big shock. Things become a bit more challenging after she comes out. There is a lot of confusion as the family is processing it.”
The actress, who describes herself as pansexual, was excited about the role, especially since characters such as Natalie rarely appear on TV. “The Baker and the Beauty” was the third pilot she auditioned for, and she was not aware of the Israeli version. Even after she nabbed the role, she didn’t want to watch that version and influence her interpretation.
Out actor Dan Bucatinsky stars as Lewis, Noa’s gay manager. One of the appeals for the performer was the fact that the show had such depth, including several three-dimensional LGBT characters. “It is a romantic comedy but at the heart it’s a family show,” he says. “The 15-year-old daughter is dealing with her own identity and sexuality. You don’t see that in an ABC drama that often.”
He immediately empathized with the character of Lewis. “There was something fun, unedited, aggressive and protective about him that I responded to,” he said. “Lewis comes across a bit like Ari in ‘Entourage,’ so director David Frankel and I talked about the potential of exploring that show businessy vibe. He has an aggressive, take-no-prisoners side but there’s another side that is pure dad. I call him a ‘momager.’ He is as close to a parent that Noa is able to have. There is something sweet about that. I think his humanity is much more present in the American version.”
Over the course of the first season, we learn more about Lewis and his relationship with Noa — and his own reluctance to date, almost burying himself in his work.
The actor was also in Atlanta to film “24: Legacy,” so he is comfortable in the city.
Bucatinsky, who has been partnered with director Don Roos for 28 years and married for 12 of them, was part of the ensemble of “Scandal,” for which he won an Emmy Award. He credits that series, as well as “The Baker and the Beauty,” for being daring in its LGBTQ content. His character, James Novak, was the husband of Cyrus Beene (Jeff Perry). “That show raised the bar,” Bucatinsky says.
“The Baker and the Beauty” finishes its first season in late May. Usually by this time of year, network shows know whether they are returning next season. Because of the unexpected COVID-19 pandemic, the cast and crew will have to wait a little longer, but they are hopeful and feel there is much more to tell.
“The Baker and the Beauty” airs Mondays at 10pm on ABCB