Not everyone needs to live in a 3000-square-foot home with multiple bedrooms, bathrooms, a garage, and a huge tract of land. For some, smaller is better.
The FYIreality showTiny House Hunting (2014-2017) follows homeowners as they search for properties that are a downgrade from their current or previous homes. As with its sister show Tiny House Hunters, the subjects of each episode are shown several homes that potentially fit their needs. By the time the credits roll, they have chosen their new residence.
Though the narrative is standard, what I find interesting is the realization of how small some of these properties really are. It becomes a question of how much one truly needs and what is important in terms of material goods.
For the most part, I dislike reality television. The manipulation by the powers that be makes me feel like I am being used for ratings. However, there is a certain segment of the genre that also pushes boundaries and opens doors.
The 2003 reality dating competition show, Boy Meets Boy aired on the Bravo network. Hosted by Dani Behr, James Getzlaff was the potential romantic partner of 15 men. As is standard for the subgenre, each vied for his attention and heart. In the end, he would choose one and perhaps walk into the sunset with him. Assisting James in the process was his bestie, Andra Stasko.
The twist is that some of the “mates” as they were called, were straight. If James chose one of the gay mates, they would win a cash prize and a vacation to New Zealand. If he chose a mate who was heterosexual and pretending to be gay, James would walk away empty-handed.
In a sense, it was progressive, given when it aired. Seeing the LGBTQ community as fully-fledged human beings was still a relatively new idea at the time. However, it was still a reality show, and questionable as to how “real” it was.
When we find the one that we will (hopefully) spend the rest of our days with, the hope is that we will get along with our in-laws. While that is the wish of every couple, that is not always possible.
The 2004 reality show, My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance, is based on this premise. Hosted by Claudia DiFolco, Randy Coy was then a teacher in her early twenties. She was introducing her fiance, Steven Williams, to her family. She believed that he was a fellow contestant. What Randy did not know is that “Steven” was played by actor Steven W. Bailey.
His job was to be as big an asshole as possible. If Coy was able to convince her family that their relationship was real, she would have won $500,000. But in order to do that, she had to play her part.
Obviously, the audience is in on the secret. Bailey was one heck of an actor, making everyone involved squirm. While it was mildly entertaining, I have to question why anyone would put themselves and their loved ones through this, just for some extra cash?
For most of human history, marriage has not been between one man and one woman. Polygamy was a common practice. Though it is not the norm these days, there are still men who are married to multiple women at the same time.
Escaping Polygamy is a reality show that has been on Lifetime’s schedule since 2014. It can also be viewed on Hulu. The program follows three sisters from Salt Lake City who escaped a polygamous group. Their goal is to help as many women as possible to do the same. They come from the FLDS and AUB Church, where polygamy is the norm and young girls are often married off to men who are sometimes many years their senior.
Though this is reality television, I feel like it is more “real” than other programs in the genre. What these women are doing (if they are being truthful) is allowing these girls to live on their own terms and not be forced into second-class citizenship.
It is interesting (to me at least) the many sub-genres within the world of reality television. For every viewer, there is a program to keep them glued to the screen.
Hotel Hell was on the air from 2012-2016. Hosted by Gordon Ramsay, the purpose of the show is to figure out why the hotel of the week is failing and try to fix it. As usual with this kind of show, the barriers include owners who are either stubborn or have their heads in the clouds, lack of processes, bad finances, etc.
By the end, the problems are supposedly fixed and the hotel is on its way to being successful.
Like all reality shows, it is entertaining. But, as a viewer, I have to ask what has been “scripted” and what is being presented as it was filmed?
Though this phrase is usually used when referring to people, it can also be applied to property. In the world of home renovation, when the average person sees trouble, a flipper sees possibility.
The new Huluhome renovation show, Hoarder House Flippers, takes this concept to the nth degree. The program follows three teams of flippers who buy homes that have a double negative against them: they are in need of desperate repair and formerly owned by hoarders. The goal is to fix up properties and sell them for maximum profit. Along the way (which is par for the course), there will be unforeseen problems and disagreements.
I admire the people who take on projects like this. It takes guts and creativity to see through the mess and the challenge. Though this show is thoroughly predictable, what I take away from it is the vision of a home that needs a family to fill it with love and memories.
Do I recommend it? Yes.
Hoarder House Flippers are available for streaming on Hulu.
Basic medical advice tells us that carrying extra weight on our body creates health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, etc. The larger problem is that in our culture, there is such a focus on body size (i.e. thin) that it is more about fitting in than being healthy.
Celebrity Fit Clubaired on VH1 from 2005 to 2010. Like its non-celebrity reality show sibling, The Biggest Loser, the purpose of the show was for the contestants to lose weight. The only difference is that those involved in this show are famous. Throughout the series, they are put through their paces and weighed at the end of each episode.
Working with a nutritionist, a psychologist, and a trainer, each competitor is given the opportunity not just to lose physical pounds. They are encouraged to work through the issues that have led them to their current state.
Like all reality television, there is the usual question of what is “real” and what is scripted for the cameras. But what I think makes it different is that this program is that it shows that those who work in show business don’t always look like we think they should look. Like all humans, if they drink and eat excessively without some sort of physical activity, they will put on the pounds.
I have mixed feelings about this reality show. This is obviously an issue that is deeply personal and requires a lot of emotional excavation to get to the bottom of. While it takes away some of the stigma from addiction, it also comes off as slightly voyeuristic. Someone else’s pain should not be entertainment for another.
When deciding to redecorate your home, it is sometimes forgotten that this choice is a risk. Though the designer will lay out their vision with the customer, the image presented may not match the final product.
Love It or Lose It (2004-2006) was an early entry in the reality televisionhome renovation show subgenre. Hosted by Tamara Taggart, the subjects of each episode are presented by three designers. Upon making their selection, the homeowners have no say in what will be done to their property. When the work is done and the result is presented, they have two choices. They can either accept it or ask that it be undone.
What I liked about this reality show is the twist. But at the end of the day, the predictability got to me. I can only watch so many episodes before I have to either turn off the tv or change the channel.
I don’t know about anyone else, but I find cleaning my home to be a chore that I would do without if I could. But it has to be done, so I just suck it up and get it done.
Dirty Rotten Cleaners premiered on A&E last year. This reality show follows two different cleaning companies in Florida as they clean the properties of their customers. Their task is more much than the standard clean. Many of these houses are filthy, filled to the brim with junk, and covered in mold.
What I like is that unlike other programs within the reality television genre, the truth about this job is not glossed over. It is genuinely gross and dangerous. Similar to its’ sister show, Hoarders, the clients are not used for a laugh or pushed into a stereotype. They are merely the patrons who need their properties cleaned.
Do I recommend it? Yes.
Dirty Rotten Cleaners is available for streaming on Hulu.