31 May 2007

Home is where the remote control is!

When most people purchase a property, they become slaves to that property – working in the garden, repairing a poor garage door, or retiling the bathroom. I have not done any of the above. What I have done is become a slave to HGTV – the Home and Garden Television station in Canada. This station has it all – shows about buying a home, selling a home, redecorating a home, repairing a home, a reality show on hosting a designing show, a show on landscaping and a show on finding the right pet for your home. Ok, I made this last one up, but no doubt, in little time, the show will exist.

My fascination with the station is bothersome in that I am wasting time, but it is also incredibly gratifying to the voyeur in me. Essentially the viewer is allowed to go along for the ride, so to speak. Selling or buying a home is certainly one of the biggest decisions that anyone will make in their life. What I’ve come to realize is that so many houses are bought and sold everyday. Is it any wonder that there is a station dedicated solely to its purpose? For goodness sakes, there is a golf channel, so why shouldn’t there be a channel dedicated to our most valuable asset?

The shows themselves are wildly entertaining. They are successful, in my opinion, for four reasons:

  1. Relatability: even if you have not purchased a home, it is very easy to relate to the people on the show; they are regular people doing regular things. In fact, many of the shows depict houses in such poor condition that they allow the viewer to feel good about their own shabby abode.
  2. Fantasy: everyone has dreams. Not to be contrite, but HGTV honestly allows you to achieve your goals. Many of shows have inspirational ideas that you can achieve by affordable means. As a complete design virgin who wouldn’t know the difference between a chrysanthemum and a crystal chandelier, it is reassuring to watch morons bumble their way through projects and still end up with beautiful changes to their homes.
  3. Opinion counts: Everyone has an opinion, and professional designers are all Howard Sterns when it comes to calling it as they see it. These designers have no qualms about telling little old ladies that the kitchen they have lived in for year’s looks more like the inside of a coffin they will be seeing in a short time. Their brutal honesty and absolute confidence in their own style may sometimes lead you to question their sanity, but will always keep you from flicking the channel. Moreover, I don’t care who you are, you know what you like – whether it is to cheer or jeer, you will tune in to watch these spaces transform.
  4. Colourful hosts: Whether it is the brawny arms of Mike Holmes or the flaming personality of Colin and Justin, the hosts of shows are anything but dull. Much like WWE, these guys and gals may be hired for their expertise, but they succeed for their ability to entertain.

HGTV may be successful, but it also reflects the greedy and materialistic side of our society. On every single open house show, people walk around a 5-bedroom house and the first thing they have to say is “too small.” A newlywed couple without kids go on the hunt for a new home and when presented with a 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom home, complete with a garage and a backyard, their only response is they won’t have enough space for all their stuff. What stuff?!?!!? Most of these couples currently live in a bachelor apartment of 700 square feet. My next favourite complaint is how infatuated they become with price; especially the sellers. On many home selling shows, people lose out on the sale simply because they are unwilling to drop their price by $1,000. Don’t get me wrong, $1,000 is in and of itself a lot of money, but these people won’t budge. They don’t consider themselves a success unless they get that extra little money. It is bothersome that we have put so much emphasis on such material happiness that every single purchase has the potential of developing into an affront on our own self worth.