Okay, I’m going to hope this is the last installation in my recent series about my TV viewing. (Previous installations includes posts about Coke and Adam Ant, Jenny Craig and street harassment, Beauty & the Geek, and one about a reality show that never aired, despite its feel-good homo-friendly vibe). Okay, I might still write about the Abigail Adams biography that’s been running on PBS, but not right now.
Right now I want to talk about the most lovely and bizarre – and uniquely American – merging of capitalism and philanthropy I’ve ever seen: Extreme Home Makeover.
Here’s the premise: family beset by hardship or doing really cool stuff is recommended to the show and its host, Ty Pennington, by a friend or neighbor and occasionally a member of the family.
The Extreme Home Makeover team show up at the family’s door, send them on vacation for a week, and during that very same week, completely re-build their entire house.
They use products that get prominent display during the show and on the show’s website: tools from Sears, and appliances from Kenmore. Basically, it’s free advertising in exchange for donated goods to use for the home makeover.
Local construction companies help out, and/or volunteer types, and often a celebrity gets involved. The family returns home, their community gathers, everyone shouts “move that bus!” and then everyone cries and smiles and hugs everyone else (especially the Design Team).
It’s the corniest shit ever and I love every minute of it. It’s so bizarrely American. In a way, it’s all win-win: cool families that do things like rescue injured animals get a great house and free dog food and kennels, Sears gets to show off their power tools, and millions of viewers are entertained.
Really, Betty and I have been watching weekly for a long while now, and we fight over tissues. Dunno, maybe during such shitty times, it’s a relief to see nice people who do good stuff get rewarded – and the only strings attached is a little bit of ‘good karma’ advertising for the companies that donate.
I think shows like this are what we should be exporting to the rest of the world instead of Baywatch or whatever other crap we export (there are some cultures, I’m sure, that find those damn Survivor shows insulting, since so much of the world’s population isn’t living in much better conditions than the contestants). We all know that Ford isn’t going to give any trucks to the employees they just laid off when their families apply in a year or so after not being able to find replacement work. No, of course not.
But at least it’s not crap news, of which we’ve got plenty.