Thursday, February 02, 2006

Domestic Policy, Part I

Stacy's comment about staying up until 1 in the morning watching HGTV reminded me that I have neglected to write about The Very Best Network In The History of Television. There are no words strong enough to express my love for Home and Garden Television, but suffice it to say that my love is deep, it is wide, and it is boundless. I adore it.

I can't remember when I started watching, really - I think Stacy was the one who first told me about it. Like Sister and me, he inherited our mother's fascination with other people's homes. In fact, when we were growing up, there were basically two measuring sticks that Mama applied to people: the cleanliness of their home and the quality of their cooking. Oh, it was fine if someone lacked one or the other, but people who could do both well immediately rocketed to the top of Mama's list. So whereas most people grow up in sort of a devil-may-care environment in terms of cleaning and cooking, we grew up with the certainty that a clean home and a delicious meal were testimonies not only to your housekeeping, but to your character. Therefore, even if Sister, Stacy or I lived in a box - we'd decorate it. No doubt in my mind. Well, Suzanne and I would decorate it. Stacy would hire an interior designer and then complain about how much everything cost, all the while telling everyone around him that he was "BROKE! BROKE!"

Anyway, I digress. I'll save all my domestic hang-ups for another post and move on to the topic at hand: HGTV.

There are some shows I enjoy because of the design ideas. Divine Design is awesome - I think Candace Olsen has incredible taste, and her rooms always look completely transformed. I also really like Designers' Challenge, although sometimes, depending on the homeowner, the results can be a bit unfortunate. Curb Appeal is good, too - I'm usually impressed by the final product because I have no vision, no vision at all when it comes to a landscape. I did not inherit my daddy's talents in that area, though Sister and Stacy certainly did.

There are other shows that I like because I am fascinated by seeing the inside of strangers' homes. House Hunters and Designed to Sell fall into this category. I actually TiVo House Hunters - I've seen each episode so many times that by the time Suzanne Whang gets the homeowners' names out of her mouth, I can give a brief plot summary. David always gets tickled when I "call" the episode in those first few seconds by saying, "Oh, they're the couple with no room and she has to sit in a child's chair to type on her computer" or "They're the couple that lost their dream house the first time but then it came back on the market right when she found out she was pregnant" or "That's the man who lived on the houseboat and then got a condo so that his daughter could stay with him on the weekends." House Hunters has a new format this year where they actually reveal the prices of the homes - and it is about time, I say.

Designed to Sell is a fun because it teaches us that an alarming number of Californians 1) don't clean their kitchens regularly 2) don't make up their beds before camera crews come into their home and 3) get $600,000 for a two bedroom bungalow anyway.

And then there's a completely different category of shows, the ones where the end result is so hideous, so wretched, that you can't imagine anyone would like it, much less pay for it. Design on A Dime is almost unwatchable to me, but when I do watch - usually in the middle of the night, in the midst of an insomnia stupor - I always expect for two things to happen: 1) for the female host to literally disappear before our eyes, because apparently she saw herself on the first few episodes, deemed herself chunky (which she wasn't), then promptly launched a plan to starve herself, and 2) to hear, as the homeowners shut their door, Loud Crashing Noises because all the poorly constructed projects made from particle board collapse to the floor like a veritable house of toothpicks.

However, the best of the worst is, without a doubt, Room by Room. Shari and Matt are a couple of wacky midwesterners who approach every room with the same design elements: wallpaper borders, textured carpet, and stencils. The results are tragic - tragic, I tell you. However, somebody must like it: they've been on the air since 1988, and Shari has the mock-turtleneck collection to prove it.

Discuss amongst yourselves...Merritt, I know you have an opinion on this one.


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