HGTV, I have some serious beef with you.

I often find myself discussing my television tribulations whenever I go to visit my parents who have cable. This time is especially interesting with my Mom’s love of Home and Garden Television.

We been watching nothing but home improvement shows, specific to the selling and staging of a house. Staging consists of making your house the everyman’s house, taking down everything out of a house that defines personality and buying things that would make your house “relatable.” And while I can see the sales technique in this, I felt that this was something so fake, something that ran into the territory of –

“This is flagrant capitalist consumerism,” I burst out, “These shows make you think that your individual desires are not enough. That you have to keep buying and buying to make your house this weird consumerist individualism.”

My Mom looked over at me wearily, “This… is just TV.”

After I mumbled that I understood that it was “infotainment”, I felt a bit communist. I felt that I should put my money where my mouth is; I should live on a commune and harvest potatoes and furtively keep some to make non-state sponsored alcohol. But I kept thinking, it can’t all just be about spending, can it?

I felt a less villainous after watching a show where a man, caught in the traction of getting his house in Montreal up to par with the Jones, becomes consumed with the renovations for over two years. His internet business had suffered because he had started spending more time doing renovations than taking care of his work. His wife had left him to live with her mother before giving birth to their first child. She refused to be shown on the show.

He initially paid 140,000 and spent another 120,000 in renovations. The house was not complete. Open sewer lines and unfinished stairs were only the beginning. The show was looking to sell the house and he was looking to sell “at any cost”; AKA for him, at least 300,000.

The nugget of this show for me was when they gave an open house to realtors and just a few buyers (filmed the middle of winter blizzard and in the days before Christmas). They had little hope of it selling in it’s unfinished, and by Gods, unstaged state.

As if by fate, or fine editing, a man came to the open house randomly, asked one of the agents to watch his kids sleeping in the car, and then quickly perused the house. The selling point for him was that the lot had three garages. He would take the house as is, for 264,000. He bought an Unfinished House for a quarter of a million dollars!

So the seller lost money, but got out of the quagmire of this faux investment and was now able to focus on his new family. This buyer had exactly what he wanted in his three garages. I had this little theory of perhaps a buyer is half part karmic, half part house, and not quite all the consumerism that the channel suggests. With any luck, maybe I’m not entirely wrong.

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10 Responses to HGTV, I have some serious beef with you.

  1. E says:

    So how was this presented? Did we have clueless house investor choke back tears as he relates how he is missing out on the birth of his child due to the money pit house, as tearful piano plays softly in the background? Did he stare apprehensively at the ground while trying to rationalize putting up an open house for his “unstaged” and unfinished house in the middle of a blizzard in the hopes that he might be finally rid of his burden and spend Christmas with his estranged family?

    Or was it presented as a wild-eyed man who is oblivious to his misguided project’s slow destruction of a young family, confident that he too can live the Canadian dream and be a hot-shot real estate investor? Did he defiantly say that an open house in a blizzard was a good thing because it would attract desperate “cold” people looking for a fine place to settle and stay warm, even if it didn’t have sewer lines?

    Oh, and I would not know what to say if you decided to live in a commune. I would truly be at a loss for words.

  2. firewings says:

    Wow. The first one. Spot on with that.

    Fear not though, I don’t think I’m commune material.

  3. E says:

    Nice. I’m telling you I could write TV. I know what the adoring public wants. Now that’s an idea…

    Anyway, I watched about ten minutes of HGTV yesterday on your cue. I couldn’t stand it. Then again, my mother watches the same stuff. Though it’s usually the E! fashion stuff, she dips into home improvement now and again.

    So why don’t you watch the Food Network like a good American? That’s quality mindless TV there.

  4. eatsbugs says:

    I love Food Network!!!

  5. firewings says:

    I’ve got an idea for a show: Spiritual Questing with firewings – the eternal search for flautas, margaritas, cake, and egg drop soup.

    What do you think?

  6. E says:

    We could send you to all the hidden and obscure eateries in a given city, and pad your eating observations with casual interviews with the seedier and probably more colorful patrons of these restaurants. I sense cult classic, canceled after 13 episodes, but lives forever on messageboards and DVD releases. I can live with that.

  7. firewings says:

    Huzzah! I can deal with cult classic!

  8. Thebutton says:

    My sis needs HGTV. I called on her b-day to find out that her house that is on top of a hill, is leaning over it. The foundation is cracked all the way down and the insurance isn’t going to pay for repairs. I honestly think they have also put more money into fixing this house (once a trailer, mind you) than what they ever spent on it. Great, now I made them sound like the Rednecks of Pennsylvania…

  9. eatsbugs says:

    I have a friend in L.A. who lived in a house that was in such disrepair that there was a space between the floors and the outside walls in places.

    I can totally see you doing this Food Network show. I’m gonna recommend starting in very small towns. Little out of the way places, where life is meaningless anyway, and the only way to find reprieve from pre-determined death is through lots and lots of food and alcohol. That way, the enlightenment is pure and total, and its okay if you get plastered on the first episode.

  10. firewings says:

    Ooo, that gives me another title for the show: “The Swaying Chef”

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