Monday, April 29, 2013

Have you ever fought over which television show to watch with your spouse?

HGTV and Me
By John Hartnett

My wife loves the HGTV Network.  It stands for Home and Garden
Television, and in our one TV household, there is nothing more deflating for me than walking into the living room on a Friday night,
all set to cuddle up with the Mrs. while watching an On Demand movie and see that I am too late.

     I am too late because my wife is already engrossed in the heart
rending story of a desperate couple from Pacific Palisades, CA, who suddenly find themselves struggling against all odds to find the
perfect pied-à-terre in Barcelona -- and by perfect they mean a
pied-à-terre that doesn't cost one penny more than their modestly
budgeted $1.7 million but absolutely must have a minimum of six walk in closets, an indoor lap pool that recedes into a wall when not in use, a 600 sq. ft. balcony with eight-foot railings for their rescued
Bengal tiger, Shoshona, an unobstructed view of the Mediterranean and a garage door that folds up like an accordion, but vertically.

     Yes, I'm jealous.  I want somebody from HGTV to help me fix up my home or help me find a new one.  

 photo doctor-lady-trailer-8b35667u_dorothea-lange_zpsf589d6d8.jpg
I've entered every contest they've offered.  Nothing. It's probably my fault for posting real photos.  If the Joads had passed by my house on their way to California, Ma would have stopped their jalopy long enough to say to her kids, "See that? I told you there's always somebody else worse off than you."
     My house needs work, there's no getting around it, but we have a DIY budget and no DIY skills. My entire family possesses the manual dexterity of a scallop.  To put it in perspective, while attempting to check in to a Marriot Courtyard Suites in Crossville, TN, it took 27 minutes to get all five of us through the revolving door and into the lobby.

     So why does my wife love HGTV so much?  Because every program is essentially the tile and backsplash equivalent of Cinderella or the Ugly Duckling story and because women crave instant transformation projects that work out,  as opposed to instant transformation projects that don't -- namely those involving their husbands.

     So anyway, it's Friday night and here I sit while my wife moves from "House Hunters International" to a taped episode of  "Property Brothers", a show about identical twins with well defined biceps who work with couples to purchase absolute hovels at below market prices, fix them up without exceeding the couple's budget and then mop up the tears of joy that the ecstatic new owners shed after receiving a tour of their newly renovated dwelling and fully comprehending that they have entered the homeowner's equivalent of Heaven, assuming Heaven has
bleached pine flooring and a fenced in yard large enough for an
energetic Jack Russell Terrier named Maxie.

     I'm doing the best I can to get into the show and trying really hard not to say something disparaging about the young woman homeowner whose skepticism that it will all work out is starting to grate on my nerves, but even with a nice glass of wine in front of me, it's impossible.

     First of all, I can't get the thought out of my head that for all the
contests I've entered and never won, everyone over at HGTV must be scared to death to even set foot in my house, let alone fix something, and secondly, the plots of these shows are All. The. Same.

     If I ran HGTV, I'd produce a home renovation remodeling show that would appeal to everybody because in each episode, in addition to seeing a house get all fixed up, there would be a murder.  The police, detectives and the FBI would swoop in and park all over the lawn and on top of insulation, drywall and recently spray-painted coffee tables with sunflower stencils on each corner.

     They'd investigate everything and everyone, dust for prints, take
blood samples, put up yellow tape in places where the paint wasn't dry yet, drag the stars of the show, the homeowners, contractors laborers and nosy neighbors downtown for questioning and snicker when the kitchen designer bursts into tears and tries to explain that the reason she can't possibly stand in a lineup today is because she still has 67 linear feet of kitchen cabinets to prep and sand before Monday noon!

     Wouldn't that be exciting and literally twice as suspenseful?  Not
only would the audience have to worry whether someone was going to be arrested, flee the country, kill again or get the electric chair, they would have to worry about whether the house would be completed on time and on budget and meet the owner's expectations, assuming the owners weren't the ones who were doing the murdering.

     I'm going to apply for a job there and see if I can shake things up. If HGTV won't remake my house, maybe I can remake HGTV.  And restore my Friday nights to their original condition.

© 2013 The Monkey Bellhop and John Hartnett

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Click the pic to see it on Amazon


  1. LOL yeah I hate those shows, swap out one sobbing couple/person for another and that is the only difference.

  2. I love watching Househunters International because it reinforces all the things we Europeans thought about Americans. I bet the shows must be scripted. If not, I'm now an American myself, so I just love to watch them and the frustrated expressions on the faces of their realtors. I record them though and watch them when hubby is not around. I do the same with Dancing with the Stars.

  3. Dear Elisa, this guest posting made me laugh. I have only basic cable and don't spend much time in front of the television, so I've never viewed one of these home-fix-over shows. But I do appreciate the beginning of his post where he and his wife want to watch different things. Compromise must be the art of marriage!

    Sorry to have been away from your blog for so long. Peace.

  4. John is a funny man--I just bought his book!!

  5. I enjoy the HGTV program about amazing houses made of/with unusual materials and designs. Like cargo containers, or styrofoam.

  6. Watch what your wife wants and make her happy.

  7. Now this is funny. Really funny-

  8. Sometimes there's a dog as wel, Pat.

  9. Inger, I've seen the International Show, of course, and I agree. The American's list of "demands' is pretty amazing. I think one woman looking to live in Ireland requested that she reside in a town where it rained by appointment only.

  10. Dee, glad to hear you liked my post. On the subject of marital compromise, I have a piece in my book called, "How Bananas Almost Destroyed My Marriage," and it is a true story about how my wife used to store overripe bananas in our freezer with the intention of making banana bread but in the 20+ years we've been married, she never made banana bread once. I finally "called her out" on it and that was a mistake I will not make again. :)

  11. Dear fishducky, thanks so much for the kind words and for buying my book. It's greatly appreciated and I hope you enjoy it. I'd love to know what you think.

  12. Dear Janie, interesting theory... (That's as close as I can come to saying, "You're right".)

  13. Shelly, glad you enjoyed the piece. Thank you!

  14. I have the same problem, I have to wait for my wife to go to bed to watch things with cars exploding in them.