Sunday, June 26, 2011

Being HGTV’d is Like Being Ambushed: Sometimes Free isn’t So Easy

I never thought I’d say it, but I think I’m almost done with home makeover network, HGTV.

The channel has been promoting its newest design show, HGTV’d for what seems likes months.  With all the hype they could muster, they made it seem like the program was actually different, bigger, bolder than any of the other shows.

Now that it’s here, I can tell you it’s not.

HGTV’d is just another program for which homeowners write letters asking for rooms to be redesigned.  Supposedly without notice, a team in a big red tractor-trailer shows up with one of the channel’s “hottest designers” in the cargo area.  The door is opened and there’s a big scene revealing said designer.

Woo hoo.   

In the episode I watched last night, John Gidding from Curb Appeal: The Block, an architect and designer, showed up to redo the first floor of a Denver couple’s home.  He crowded an already small space with so much stuff and dark colors that he made it look smaller, even cave-like.

He also had the audacity to create and brag about a moveable dining room table which, when put into place, blocked the only passageway from one side of the main floor to the other.  Crazy.

I’ve now seen at least three of Gidding’s programs where the homeowners insist throughout the program that they don’t like his ideas.  It was the same with this episode.  He would only smile, make a few jokes and proceed to make his changes.

Hey guys, it’s their house!  You might not agree, but the homeowners should decide what happens under their roof.

I’ve seen the same sort of thing on Holmes on Holmes and on Design to Sell

Of course, in the end, the couple says they love the redesign.  But I remember reading a piece in The New York Times a few years ago in which Times reporter Andrew Postman recounts his and his wife’s experience with an HGTV makeover.  They didn’t like the changes either and felt they were coerced into going along with it all while being coached by producers to smile, show appreciation and use words like “amazing” and “incredible."
I can’t help but think this goes on more than viewers realize and that HGTV is too full of itself.   The network says of HGTV’d, “HGTV stars will arrive at the home of a viewer, surprising them with jaw-dropping makeovers and over-the-top transformations.”  Presumably they get a free makeover.  Free or not, my jaw would drop all right if someone did something to my house that I didn’t like.  And the process might tempt me to do something unpleasant to someone else’s jaw.  Somehow I don’t think I’d like to be HGTV’d.  And more and more I think I don’t want to watch the process anymore either.

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