Looking for a new home is never an easy process. It is even harder when one has moved to another country.
House Hunters International premiered in HGTV in 2006 and for the last 13 years, has been a staple of the network’s schedule. The subject of each episode is looking for a new home outside of their home country. On top of dealing with the usual decisions when it comes to buying or renting a new home, they must also contend with the idea that their standard of what a home should be does not always match with the possibilities that the realtor has presented to them.
I like House Hunters International. I like it because it presents a different view of the world while simultaneously reminding the viewers that the house hunting process is the same, wherever one is looking to live.
As thrilling as wedding dress shopping is, the reality is that a wedding dress can be a major expense.
The TLC Program,I Found The Gown (2012-2014) was set in VOWS Bridal Outlet in Massachusetts. Each episode focused on two subjects: brides who wanted to look stylish without breaking the bank and the owners who were looking to purchase gowns to add to their inventory.
As entertaining as I Found The Gown was, it was bloodless and not as exciting as the others shows that were part of the TLC’s wedding block.
There comes a point when spin offs become ridiculous or an obvious ploy to extend the life and the brand of a television program. Say Yes to the Dress: Randy Knows Best is not exactly horrible, but it feels like it is stretching Say Yes to the Dress just a little too far.
The process of shopping for a wedding dress is often stressful and complicated. Everyone around the bride has an opinion on what she should wear and often is not afraid to share that opinion. But what if the bride has to choose between a dress of her own choice and a dress that has been worn previously?
This is the premise of the TLC program, Something Borrowed, Something New (2013-2014). Each episode, the woman who is getting married must make a choice. She must either choose from a brand new wedding dress or choose to wear the wedding dress of a family or friend that has been altered in some way.
Among the wedding themed shows that are part and parcel of the TLC schedule, I found this show to be compelling. The question of going your own way with a wedding dress or wearing an altered version of someone else’s dress was a different take on the wedding themed program. But as compelling as it was, it was enough to sustain the show beyond one season,
There was a point in history when your parents had a say in whom you would marry. But times have changed. However, that does not mean that our parents don’t have an opinion about our love lives.
This is the premise of the MTV series, Parental Control (2006-2010). The parents of the subject of each episode are unhappy with their child’s current romantic partner. After going through a series of interviews, the parents select two of the interviewees to go on a date with their child. At the end of the episode, the subject of the episode chooses between their current partner or one of the dates that their parents selected.
Looking back, Parental Control was an interesting show. The concept of bringing the parents into the process of choosing their child’s romantic partner was certainly different among the reality dating shows that were part of MTV’s schedule at the time. But at the end of the day, it was just another reality dating show.
Among the television spawn of the reality genre, there is none so compelling or mind numbing (depending on your point of view) than the competition program.
Shear Genius aired on Bravo from 2007 to 2010. Hosted during the first season by Jaclyn Smith and by Camila Alves (the other half of Matthew McConaughey) during the final two seasons, the purpose of the competition was to find the best hairdresser among the contestants. Each week, the contestants were challenged to create a unique hairstyle, but were forced to do so under restricted conditions. At the end of the reason, one contestant was named the winner.
Looking back, Shear Genius was not all that great. It was just another reality competition program where the competition was set in the world of hair styling. The only bright was Tabatha Coffey, who was named as fan favorite and had her own spin-off show, Tabatha Takes Over.
These days, there is a slew of makeover shows on television.
In 2007, Project Runway‘s Tim Gunn became the star of his own reality show, Tim Gunn’s Guide to Style (2007-2008). Co-hosted by Veronica Webb in the first season and Gretta Monahan in the second season, the subject of each episode goes through the standard head to toe reality show makeover. As long as each participant follows Gunn’s rules for fashion, they are allowed to express themselves via the clothes they choose to wear.
There is a reason why this program lasted only two seasons. Though Gunn is well respected in the fashion industry, the show was just a little too cookie cutter to survive in the cutthroat world of reality television.
When the cats away, the mice play. The same could be said for employees who act one way in front of their bosses and another way when the boss is not around.
Mystery Diners aired on Food Network from 2012-2016. The premise of the show was as follows: A restaurant owner was suspicious that something was going at his restaurant, but he couldn’t quite figure out what the problem was. Enter Charles Stiles and his team. The restaurant is rigged with hidden cameras. As Charles and the restaurant owner watch from a hidden control room, mystery diners are sent in as customers or new staff to get the lowdown from the unsuspecting employees. When there is enough proof, the cover is revealed and the owner of the restaurant makes a decision on what to do about the offending staff.
This is a typical reality show. But unlike other reality shows, there was a disclaimer at the end of the credits. From my perspective, even if it was not 100% “reality”, I still enjoyed it. The element of surprise, for both the audience and the restaurant owner was enough to keep me coming back for further episodes.
The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.
This is the premise of What Would You Do? (2008-2015). Originally airing on ABC before moving to A&E, the program was hosted by John Quiñones. The program is based on the question on what one would do if they saw someone else in a conflict or doing something illegal. Would they speak up or just go about their business?
In the establishment of each particular scenario, hidden cameras are setup. Actors are brought in to play out the scenario; he reactions of the bystanders are recorded by the cameras. When all is said and done, Quiñones appears and interviews the bystanders. The footage is then viewed and discussed by experts in the field of psychology or education.
Unlike other reality shows, this program makes the audience think. It’s a reminder that television has the power to change lives and how we set each other.
One of the more interesting sub-genres of reality television is the fish out of water story.
Dancing with the Stars (2005-Present) can most certainly be defined as a fish out of water story. The American version of the UK program Strictly Come Dancing, the premise of the show is as follows: a celebrities who are not known for their dancing skills are matched with professional dancers. The dance of the week is chosen the week before the episode is set to air. As the season rolls on, the couples are eliminated until one is crowned that season’s winner.
DWTS is one of the more interesting programs that fall within the reality television genre. It is not as mind numbing as other shows and perhaps inspires viewers to try something new by putting on their own dancing shoes.