Monday, March 22, 2010

HGTV's New "Home Rules" Show: I'm Not a Fan

I really wanted to like the new series "Home Rules," HGTV's hour-long show with Life Coach Fran Harris. I thought it would be a little organizing, a little time management, a little money management, a little goal-setting, and a little therapy. That wasn't the case.

Overall, "Home Rules" is a glorified interior design show. I know one of the sponsors is Sherman Williams. I get it. They have to paint, and they have to have close-ups of paint cans while they're painting. But the rest of the show misses the mark as well.

The premise of the show is that a Life Coach is sent to help a family that has financial and relational problems. The show's answer is to tempt them to improve their lives by offering to drastically renovate their house for free. The renovations start while the family attends meetings, completes exercises, and establishes rules.

Okay, pause. Do you see where the first problem is? The family hasn't even gone through one week of attempting to change their lives, and they're already in the middle of what I can only guess is a $50,000 renovation. What are the producers going to do if the family doesn't commit to change, stop working and leave their house worse off than it was?

In the episode I watched, a family needed a new refrigerator, insulation in one room, and to finish a bathroom and a laundry room. (Also, the kids didn't like the styles of their rooms, but I'm not considering that a dire need.) Why couldn't the show just fix the broken things? Instead, they rewarded people who made poor financial decisions and lived beyond their means for at least ten years with a whole-house renovation that most levelheaded, frugal people could only dream of.

To reign in the spoiled oldest daughter, they made her take out an old toilet. Good television, yes. But couldn't they just teach her to do laundry? Or cook pasta? Or even clean a toilet? Couldn't they make her do something she could do to help her mother and that would be a good skill for her future as well? I'm a handy person, but I'll tell you, I never have taken out a toilet and never plan to take out a toilet. The idea was too extreme.

Also, there were several camera "asides" where Harris was shocked and almost teasing her clients. Really, Fran Harris? You've never seen this before? I realize these quick asides were probably just for entertainment value, but it's kind of insulting to all professionals who make a living helping people find order in their lives. Believe me, we're not all that judgmental.

Maybe I have an inaccurate perception of what Life Coaches do. I remember watching a TV show called "Starting Over," where a group of women going through life transitions lived in a house together and participated in coach-lead exercises, goal-setting, and therapy. Granted, it was still a cheesy "crazy house" reality show, but it had some great ideas on how to help people overcome common roadblocks. I've also seen similar shows about financial management and time management that used a "tough love" approach to help people and share practical advice that all of us can use.

It may be the producers, editors, or just the nature of the TV format, but "Home Rules" breezes through these people's transitions without pinpointing what was really wrong with their value system. They treat the family's obsession with over-spending on expensive stuff them a lot of expensive stuff. Sorry, "Home Rules," you lost me.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I saw the episode you're describing and I have to agree. The whole house was remodeled and I didn't see much that was required by the family. Where is the sacrifice? Also, I was rather disturbed that the oldest daughter was asked to contribute to her own private schooling and skating program. Why is she only allowed to keep 30% of her check (she only makes about $8 an hour) while the mother continues not to work?????? BIG PROBLEM! I understand teaching her to value her education, but my mother should value it too. When the life coach checked in on her a few months later the mother was STIL looking for a job that pays "a lot of money." Well, your daughter makes just over minimum wage and has to work to put herself through high school-- WHY CAN'T YOU DO THE SAME IN RETURN??? That part really bothers me.