Why I love watching HGTV (and why I don’t blame you if you don’t)







Earlier this year, I visited an old friend in LA – not that she is old – she is my age and we are certainly not old – we have just known each other for a long time.  She loves HGTV and she had it on in the background throughout much of the time I was there – pretty much whenever we weren’t at Target (but that’s another blog post). Over the three-day weekend I discovered Property Brothers, I discovered House Hunters (including the international variety) and I discovered Love it, or List it. When I returned to Seattle after only a short time away, I surely baffled Ben who had always known me as a Food Network junkie. Sure, I still watched Chopped from the DVR, but any moment I needed to chillax for a spell, I tuned to HGTV instead.

So, what’s the appeal for me?

One: Makeovers!

As Oprah knows, makeovers make television gold. Take someone who has let themself go – or who never really had themself in hand in the first place – and hand them over to the experts for a coat of spit and polish. Voila! Fascinating, heart-warming, inspiring television. HGTV is like that but for homes. I cannot believe what can be accomplished by a television personality and their crew of 40 people in 5 weeks with a budget of $50000! Incredible, beautiful makeovers of previously uninhabitable properties. Amazing! And all edited together in an easily digested package for my viewing pleasure. If I am on a time budget, I will skip the actual making over, and just cringe in horror at the ‘before’ and then exclaim delight in the ‘after’. It is the extremeness of the contrast that tickles me.

Two: Assholes intrigue me

I always wonder what it must be like to be an asshole and then go on TV and show the world how much of an asshole you are. I don’t know why these people intrigue me so much, but perhaps in some odd way I vicariously live through their public assholery. Assholes on HGTV include 20-somethings who stand in cavernous en suite bathrooms with two sinks, enough storage for all their asshole products, a spa bath and a separate shower and say things like, “This isn’t very big, I definitely need a bathroom bigger than this.”

Or, the people who insist that if the house doesn’t have crown molding then they can’t possibly be expected to live there. I hadn’t even heard of crown molding until I started watching HGTV regularly – and I would hazard a guess that the assholes hadn’t either. Assholes also include young-ish people who see a perfectly good kitchen – one less than a decade old – and sigh in disappointment because it doesn’t have a commercial stove or granite counter tops. My uncle has a commercial stove, which he finally got when he was about 55, because he wanted to invest in his culinary pursuits – and it is something he uses every day (he is an awesome amateur chef, by the way).

Three: I learn stuff

I like seeing how people in other parts of the country – and other parts of the world – live. HGTV provides anthropological tutelage; one could even say that they are providing a valuable community service.

Also, I get so many ideas from HGTV. I am not talking about DIY projects. I hate DIY as much as I hate gardening. I am talking about tips on how to style your home. I take pride in having a nicely put-together home and I learn new stuff all the time on HGTV. #1 tip for having a beautiful home? Put your sh*t away. There’s a difference between your stuff – which can be displayed stylishly to make your place feel like a home – and your sh*t. No one wants to see your sh*t – not even your spouse, so put it away.

Sidebar: My dad taught me this one: he and my step-mum each have a drawer where they can put their miscellaneous sh*t. Ben and I have adopted this tip and it works really well for keeping clutter (i.e. each others’ sh*t) out of sight. Items that go in the drawer may include sunglasses, opened mail, unopened mail, coupons, spare keys, an address book, post-its, lip balm, a pocket knife, a silly plastic toy that I won from an arcade game, and so on. Feel free to steal this idea. HGTV should steal this idea. But I digress…

Four: It’s harmless (and often mindless) fun

Our move across the world takes up a considerable amount of brain power. We are dealing with logistics and paperwork and job hunting and price comparisons, so a little bit of mindless entertainment is good these days. Ben has ‘The Big Bang Theory’. I have HGTV.

Disclaimer: Yes I know that a lot of it is faked, or rather,  ‘reconstructed’ for television

I know that the couples featured on House Hunters are not really house-hunting – they have already chosen their property and are simply recreating the search for a television audience. I tend to skip the loosely-scripted discussions and skip right to the tours of the three properties. The show gives a great overview of the lifestyle in that location. Again, anthropological = interesting.

I am also sure that Drew (or Jonathon – I don’t know which one is which) on Property Brothers doesn’t really broker a sale as quickly or easily as he seems to on television. I don’t care. The rest of their show is cool.

So, judge me or don’t; it is my (not-so) guilty pleasure.

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