The best way to learn about someone who is different from us is to spend a day in their shoes. Though the outcome is not 100% guaranteed, the hope is that we see that person behind the stereotypes and the labels.
NBC‘s new reality show, Home Sweet Home premiered last Friday. Created by writer/producer Ava Duvernay, it is a sort of gentler version of Wife Swap. Each episode follows two families who switch lives and homes for four days. While in the other’s house, they live as that family does and meet their loved ones. At the the end of that period, they meet for a meal and get to know those who they have temporarily shared their lives with.
Though the show could border on schmaltzy or the typical overly dramatic reality television formula, it doesn’t. It has a nice balance of tension and the predictable narrative that the audience has come to expect for the genre. What I found appealing was that it spoke to the humanity in all of us. The connection between the two families was the thing that drew me in. Despite their differences, they not only got along, but they became friends. The hook that will keep me watching was a statement by the father. He realized that it is possible to raise children that are happy and successful without forcing the traditional cis gender two parent structure down our throats.
Do I recommend it? Yes.
Home Sweet Home airs on NBC on Friday night at 8PM.
There is something curious about reality television. We know that the term “reality” is a misnomer. For all it claims of being true to life, it is just as scripted as any fictional program. But yet, we leave our skepticism at the door, expecting everything that occurs on screen to be released to the public as it was filmed.
Chrisley Knows Best has been on the air since 2014. The series follows wealthy businessman Todd Chrisley and his family as they go about their business. If his wife, his children, and his mother were to ask about his worse qualities, they would say that he is controlling, quick to get upset, and unwilling to see another’s perspective.
A play off of the 1950’s sitcom, Father Knows Best, this show is best described as a low rent version of The Osbournes. Within the parameters of “reality shows“, this program is the worst of the worst. It is brainless, foolish, and I personally find that there is nothing entertaining about this family. It has been on the air for quite a few years, so obviously, there is an audience for it. But I am not part of that audience.
Politics is a strange push pull of personal needs vs. the needs of those who voted for you. It would be easy to say that you became a politician to serve the nation and your constituents. The harder aspect of the job is ignoring your gut instincts for prestige and press.
The discovery that Clinton used personal servers for government business sends Comey and his staff on a year long search to discover if anything untoward was located within her emails. When they come to the conclusion that it was just a mistake by the former Senator/Secretary of State/First Lady and her staff, Comey is torn as to how to proceed. He could keep it within bureau, or make a public statement. His wife, Patrice (Jennifer Ehle) and those who work under him advise Comey to not say anything to the press or or public. But, as we all know, he chose to bring this information into the light.
When a certain reality show star and businessman is elected President (played by a fantastic Brendan Gleeson), Comey does his best to do his job. But when it becomes clear that the new leader of the free world is underqualified, he knows that this man is different than any other who has held the role.
I loved this series. Combining news clips with scenes based from the real James Comey’s book, it is tense, dramatic, and reveals an aspect of the 2016 election that only a few at the time were privy to. If nothing else, it is a reminder of how important the separation of powers is and how democracy if not tended to as it ought to, can quickly disintergrate.
Do I recommend it? Absolutely.
The Comey Rule is available for streaming on Netflix.
Love, in theory, should be simple. You find the right person, you settle down with them, and hopefully live happily ever after. But we all know that love is never simple.
In the 1999 film, The Bachelor (not to be confused with the reality show of the same name), James Shannon III (Chris O’Donnell) will soon be celebrating his 30th birthday. Though he has been with his girlfriend Anne Arden (Renée Zellweger) for a while, Jimmy is not quite ready to propose. When he finally gets down on on knee, it does not go as planned.
Needing space and time to think, Anne goes out of town for work. Just as she leaves, Jimmy receives an ultimatum from his recently deceased grandfather (the late Sir Peter Ustinov). Unless there is a ring on his finger by 6:05 pm on his birthday, he will receive nothing from his grandfather’s will. Scheduled to blow out the candles in 24 hours, he desperately tries to contact Anne. But she is incommunicado. Feeling desperate, Jimmy starts to contact his old girlfriends.
On a scale of 1-10, I would say that The Bachelor is 4. The plot is fairly predictable as a romantic comedy. Though O’Donnell and Zellweger have reasonably chemistry, there is nothing new or fresh about this film. The hapless male who needs a kick to the proverbial butt to prove to his significant other that he is serious about their relationship is nothing new. Its all rather generic and to be honest, boring.
It would be nice to say that love finds us without any effort. But for every person whose soulmate just walks into their life, there is another person who needs a little help.
Confessions of a Matchmaker aired on A&E in 2007. Set in Buffalo, NY, the audience follows matchmaker Patti Novak as she helps her clients find their perfect partner. Her no-nonsense attitude allows those who have hired her to work past their issues and if all goes well, there is a possibility of a bright future for the couple.
What I liked about this show is that unlike other reality dating shows, it was not as slick or pretty looking. Patti was willing to help those who came to her, but she did not coddle them. She also dropped them if she felt that they were unwilling to do the work needed to walk into the sunset.
Life does not always give us second chances. Sometimes, we make a decision and our path is set.
The Big Leap premiered last week on Fox. The show follows a group of underdogs who audition for a reality dance show. At the end of the season, the chosen cast will be performing a modern remake of Swan Lake. Nick Blackburn (Scott Foley) is the producer trying to repair his reputation after his previous show did not go over well. Among the contestants is Julia Perkins (Teri Polo), a middle aged former dancer who has once last chance of glory. Gabby Lewis’s (Simone Recasner) world in high school was dancing. Then she got pregnant and had to grow up. Paula Clark (Piper Perabo) spent years climbing the corporate ladder before realizing that she wanted to do more than push paper for the rest of her life.
As cliché as this program is, I liked the first couple of episodes. I like that is also exposes how far the creative team will go to get a story, even if it is not 100% accurate. But if there was one thing for me that clinched is that Gabby is not a size two. For all of us who believe that our clothing tags have to list a specific number, it is lovely and far too uncommon to see the average American woman represented on television.
My only question is, how long this show can last. If it lasts the full season and we get to the final performance, where does the narrative go? Is there enough story to proceed to further seasons?
While it was on the air, it was reasonably compelling. There was enough narrative meat to keep the viewer engaged. But looking back, it has a “look at me” quality that I find to be presently unappealing. Like all reality television, the line between “reality” and amped up drama is not quite clear.
Its amazing how much stuff we collect once we get settled. It maybe something that is financially worthless, but has a emotion connection to someone or something in our live. It can also have a decent dollar amount attached to it, allowing us have an experience we would not otherwise have.
The new HGTV series, Cash in the Attic, asks this question. Based on the British series of the same name, the viewers follow an family or couple opens their doors to experts who will help them go through their belongings. These experts assign a potential dollar value and then send some of these product to an auction house. The proceeds are used for something the participants have wanted to do, but due to money constraints, have not been able to do.
*I apologize that the video is from the UK series. I could not find one for the new US series.
I watched a couple of episodes and really enjoyed them. Instead of their usual home renovation shows, this program delves into other aspects this genre that is not normally seen.
Do I recommend it? Yes.
Cash in the Attic airson HGTV on Friday night at 9PM and 9:30 PM.
Cooking compeition shows have become a staple of Food Network‘s schedule. The problem is that after watching several variations on this theme, the programs start to blend together. It takes a unique premise to make one show stand out from another.
Cutthroat Kitchen aired from 2013-2017. Hosted by Alton Brown, four chefs face each other in three rounds. Each contestant is given $25,0000 and the opportunity to purchase opportunities to sabotage one another along the way. The winner takes home the money that is still in the bank at the end the of game, in addition to the title of champion.
What I like about this program is how deliciously sadistic Brown is. The challenges require the chefs to think outside the box and perhaps be a little more vicious than they would be when they are not in front of the camera.
In the world of real estate, first impressions are everything. It is therefore incumbent on either the current homeowner or the landlord/lady to do the work required to ensure that the property is sold and/or rented quickly.
Sell This House (2003-2011, 2020-present) is the OG of home renovation shows. Hosted by Tanya Memme, the premise of the program is that homeowners are unable to sell their home. With the help of Roger Hazard and Daniel Kucan, Memme works with the current residents to fix up the home and hopefully sell it. This means changes that may not be initially welcomed and comments during the open houses that may not sit well those who live on the property.
Back in the day, the show was new and different. But now its as rote and predictable as any program in the genre.