The Illusion of Home Makeovers


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With so much misery going on in the world, it’s nice to have a feel-good escape from it all. Television has always been a good diversion, but lately it seems the schedule has been inundated with gross-out procedural dramas that involve examining dead bodies… not exactly my idea of feel-good entertainment. One show that succeeds in the mission of creating a warm fuzzy is “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. ” A family facing hard times and receiving a glorious new house always tugs at the heartstrings and delivers with a happy ending. While this program provides great escapism, I find it very flawed and, at times, wonder if the producers think the viewing audience is made up of idiots.

While “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” is considered to be a reality program, it could not more scripted. The show makes it look like these families are totally shocked by their selection for the makeover, but in actuality, the show’s producers notify about four families they are in the running and that the bus might be stopping by “unannounced. ” Do these people not wait with bated breath, peeking out the window in hope of their dreams coming true? They act surprised when the always-annoying Ty Pennington greets them with the unnecessary bullhorn, but you just know they heard that loudmouth and his crew coming a mile away.

The overly-peppy design team would like us to think they are miracle workers, but I doth protest. Sure, they come up with some great ideas, but they surely don’t so on the spur of the moment. After the family is sent off on a week-long vacation, the producers of the show create a scenario with the design team putting their heads together for an idea on the house after taking one short look at the property. Uh, ya think these people actually have these ideas pop into their heads in mere minutes and not once argue over what to do? What about permits, zoning laws, architecture, and the hiring of the hundreds of people contracted to do the physical labor? This has got to take months of planning, but we are supposed to suspend all belief and go with the notion that Ty and company are working magic before our very eyes. They haven’t fooled me one bit.

As much as this show bugs me, I still watch it every week. Do I view every frame of it? Hell no. I check out the intro to see what plight has afflicted the selected family, then I fast forward (thanks TiVo) to the part when the family comes back to the amazing transformation. They cry; I cry; everyone seems right in the world again. Enjoy the wonderful moment, but don’t, for one second, fall for the illusion that is being shoved down our throats.

About the Author: When not watching TV, Brian Kohlmeier is a co-founder of, which changes the way people exchange goods and services through the Internet. SwapThing is a site focused on building a strong swap community online. The ShareThing program helps non-profits get access to item & cash donations as well as volunteers and professional services. This article comes with reprint rights. You are free to reprint and distribute it, as you like. All that we ask is that you do not make any changes, that this resource text is included, and that the links above is intact.


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