HGTV: The Friday Night Wars

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Note: This is a piece I wrote for author, EC Stilson’s blog, The Crazy Life of a Writing Mom. EC is an immensely talented, inspirational and often humorous writer who has written several books including a bestselling trilogy of memoirs that will resonate with anyone who has experienced adversity in their lives or simply loves stories that are poignant, real and well told. They’re also riveting. Be sure to check out EC’s blog and her books at Wayman Publishing.

For an example of something a little less riveting, I’m up…

HGTV: The Friday Night Wars

My wife loves the HGTV Network. It stands for Home and Garden Television, and in our one TV household, there is nothing more deflating for me than walking into the living room on a Friday night, all set to cuddle up with the Mrs. while watching an On Demand movie and see that I am too late.

I am too late because my wife is already engrossed in the heart rending story of a desperate couple from Pacific Palisades, CA, who suddenly find themselves struggling against all odds to find the perfect pied-à-terre in Barcelona — and by perfect they mean a pied-à-terre that doesn’t cost one penny more than their modestly budgeted $1.7 million but absolutely must have a minimum of six walk in closets, an indoor lap pool that recedes into a wall when not in use, a 600 sq. ft. balcony with eight-foot railings for their rescued Bengal tiger, Shoshona, an unobstructed view of the Mediterranean and a garage door that folds up like an accordion, but vertically.

Yes, I’m jealous. I want somebody from HGTV to help me fix up my home or help me find a new one. I’ve entered every contest they’ve offered. Nothing. It’s probably my fault for posting real photos. If the Joads had passed by my house on their way to California, Ma would have stopped their jalopy long enough to say to her kids, “See that? I told you there’s always somebody else worse off than you.”

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My house needs work, there’s no getting around it, but we have a DIY budget and no DIY skills. My entire family possesses the manual dexterity of a scallop. To put it in perspective, while attempting to check in to a Marriot Courtyard Suites in Crossville, TN, it took 27 minutes to get all five of us through the revolving door and into the lobby.

So why does my wife love HGTV so much? Because every program is essentially the tile and backsplash equivalent of Cinderella or the Ugly Duckling story and because women crave instant transformation projects that work out, as opposed to instant transformation projects that don’t –namely those involving their husbands.

So anyway, it’s Friday night and here I sit while my wife moves from “House Hunters International” to a taped episode of “Property Brothers“, a show about identical twins with well defined biceps who work with couples to purchase absolute hovels at below market prices, fix them up without exceeding the couple’s budget and then mop up the tears of joy that the ecstatic new owners shed after receiving a tour of their newly renovated dwelling and fully comprehending that they have entered the homeowner’s equivalent of Heaven, assuming Heaven has bleached pine flooring and a fenced in yard large enough for an energetic Jack Russell Terrier named Maxie.

I’m doing the best I can to get into the show and trying really hard not to say something disparaging about the young woman homeowner whose skepticism that it will all work out is starting to grate on my nerves, but even with a nice glass of wine in front of me, it’s impossible.

First of all, I can’t get the thought out of my head that for all the contests I’ve entered and never won, everyone over at HGTV must be scared to death to even set foot in my house, let alone fix something, and secondly, the plots of these shows are All. The. Same.

If I ran HGTV, I’d produce a home renovation remodeling show that would appeal to everybody because in each episode, in addition to seeing a house get all fixed up, there would be a murder. The police, detectives and the FBI would swoop in and park all over the lawn and on top of insulation, drywall and recently spray-painted coffee tables with sunflower stencils on each corner.

They’d investigate everything and everyone, dust for prints, take blood samples, put up yellow tape in places where the paint wasn’t dry yet, drag the stars of the show, the homeowners, contractors laborers and nosy neighbors downtown for questioning and snicker when the kitchen designer bursts into tears and tries to explain that the reason she can’t possibly stand in a lineup today is because she still has 67 linear feet of kitchen cabinets to prep and sand before Monday noon!

Wouldn’t that be exciting and literally twice as suspenseful? Not only would the audience have to worry whether someone was going to be arrested, flee the country, kill again or get the electric chair, they would have to worry about whether the house would be completed on time and on budget and meet the owner’s expectations, assuming the owners weren’t the ones who were doing the murdering.

I’m going to apply for a job there and see if I can shake things up. If HGTV won’t remake my house, maybe I can remake HGTV. And restore my Friday nights to their original condition.

© 2013 The Monkey Bellhop and John Hartnett

5 thoughts on “HGTV: The Friday Night Wars”

  1. John, even though I haven’t seen HGTV, I had a faint inkling of what they may be up to, thanks to a local show out here on similar lines (that could be copycat trick but I will leave it at that). However, your piece leaves me in no doubt as to what is really happening and what they could be missing out on big time -the murder, the yellow tapes and the FBI!

    I like how you devastate your targets with a mix of irony and understatements. Cracking humour, as ever!

  2. My fiancee’ watches this all the time. Almost every night. She is obsessed with it. Even though we live in a small NYC apartment. None of it will ever happen to our place and we refuse to move out to the burbs. So why does she watch it? To torture me? Who knows. I do feel your pain.

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