Sunday, June 24, 2012

House Hunters in the Outhouse

My wife and I are people who keep the TV on more than we should. Allow me to concede that right up front. We watch (as in, actively choose to pay attention—or as close to that as anyone does in this era of Twitter and iPads and the other diversions that can co-exist with TV viewing) a fair number of shows, but there's also times when we put something on that's mostly just background—well, more pseudo-background, as it can prove to be something that gets as much attention as the shows we actively sought (and probably recorded) but without us having the specific intention of devoting ourselves to it in any way. It's something to have on while, say, making dinner, or cleaning up after dinner, or after going to bed as something that won't be disturbing and where it doesn't matter if we fall asleep part way through the episode.

Over the past couple months we've switched over to making HGTV that just-throw-on channel. People buying houses or fixing up houses or designing houses is innocuous enough to not be disturbing, but can still be compelling enough to sometimes make us back up and watch the beginning again if it gets interesting later. And we figure it might help motivate us to get back on the hunt for a property and stop renting.

What tends to be on at bedtime is House Hunters. For the uninitiated, there's someone (or a couple or a family) that is shown three places to buy and they must choose one. The appeal is really to be able to guess which they'll pick before their choice is revealed at the end. (Well, and to see how idiotic the people on it sometimes are.) It's reasonably evident that the show is heavily edited to make it seem like all three are viable, with both the desirable and undesirable features of each being noted.

There's no way that anyone who buys a house really has it come down to three like this; the fictional aspect of it is obvious to anyone who pauses to think about it, but as I noted earlier, this is not something we put on because we want to think.

So recently an article online pulled away the curtain and revealed that the house hunters are people who've already selected the house they intend to buy and are likely in escrow but merely haven't moved out of their old place yet. The other two properties shown may or may not even be for sale, and the prices are merely estimations by the producers. In the piece it notes the property the hunters will choose typically tend to be empty, so when watching it's pretty simple to pick that out from the other two (which probably have active occupants and thus are furnished).

And now, even though we more or less knew it was largely fake, seeing behind the curtain that the Wizard is a little man—not that we didn't subconsciously grasp it—has affected how well it serves that purpose for us. (Also, after this long we're starting to see episodes repeat that we remember seeing, and they're not worthy of additional viewings.)

Was the show unrealistic? Sure. Were stupid people duped into thinking home buying is easier than it really is? Perhaps, but they're stupid; they're duped by everything.

The internet: It ruins everything.

All we can do is hope HGTV puts on more Property Brothers in that time slot. At least until someone reveals what's wrong with that show...


And, of course, the online media has lost its sh*t over this, making a show that's been airing for 13 years suddenly into the worst thing that's happening in the world.

This cultural podcast even addressed the topic, which while conceding the addictive nature of the show, did come around to being critical of how, in the wake of the housing bubble bursting years ago and the resulting economic crisis, it was inappropriate to have such a glamorized view of home ownership, one that didn't present any counterbalancing downside.

And while that's certainly a valid point, it seems like anyone fooled by this must also believe that babies are born quickly, with little discomfort to the mother, emerge from the womb clean of any bodily fluids—you know, because that's how they've seen it happen on TV.

It's as if HGTV has an agenda of putting on programming that would help push the products of their advertisers and not uphold journalistic standards of fairness. It's as though people watching the show want nothing more than a brief escapist glimpse into what is still considered a major facet of the American Dream (home ownership). The unmitigated nerve of those viewers.

Next they'll say Food Network makes people fat…

The internet: It has too much time on its hands.

1 comment:

  1. I've always found House Hunters annoying, but International House Hunters really pisses me off. What whack job would pay half a million USD for a 200 sq/ft closet in Paris? It's shocking how many actually will.


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