Ah, guilty pleasures. Yes. We all have them (or at least I hope so!) Those things we love that make us blush to admit it. For me, it’s not food – I never feel guilty about that. It’s food! But it is… competition TV shows. (Yes, I’m blushing.) You name it – cooking, baking, fashion, design, singing – whatever; they’re irresistible. (Still blushing.) There’s something about the creativity, the adrenaline, the imagination, the racing around, the pressure, the personalities… I love hard work – I could watch it all day.
I’ve watched some genres long enough to know many of the players now, so there’s a sense of “Oh, I like her, she’s my peeps -my team… “Or “He’s snarky. Bad attitude – Not my team. But he’s really good… so maybe my team.” “That one is just plain mean. Not my team. Hope that one doesn’t win.” It’s amazing how quickly you become invested in the success of complete strangers working their tails off hundreds or thousands of miles away.
I’ve wondered from time to time why I like these shows so much. I’m not particularly competitive and I shy away from conflict. The personality drama and backstabbing that comes out occasionally turn me off. On the other hand, I enjoy seeing challenges faced and met. Creativity, talent, and genuine humanity usually prevail; the good gal or guy wins much of the time. It gives you a sense that things are “right” in the world.
My other guilty viewing pleasure is home design shows. The whole idea of starting over with a clean slate and a team of professionals is like a two-hour tandem massage followed by Thai food and dark chocolate truffles. I could roll in it. Imagine starting with what you’ve got and getting a whole new kitchen or bedroom or home! The homeowners always doubt, but jump in. The designer and the contractor always fuss at each other about cost or color. And in the end the place looks amazing. And there are always orange pillows. There must be something in the contract. It’s like that brown M&M thing backstage at rock concerts.
But it works. The surfaces are sleek, the walls are pristine with pops of color in the backs of shelving units. There is fruit artfully placed in giant bowls or plates on the obligate kitchen island. The wine fridge makes one or both homeowners squeal like teenage girls. Somebody swoons over a well-appointed bathroom. At some point, someone tears up, and we all reach for a tissue. It’s predictable, it’s not always believable – but it’s so much fun.
I think the secret feelings that draws me to these shows are “Oooo! pretty!” and “If X can do that – I could do that! I could totally do that!” I can imagine being in that place, doing that very thing, and succeeding. And in many cases, I might even be right. Almost anyone can – but there’s an awful lot that happens off camera when a six-week reno is condensed into 60 minutes, including the ads. The other five weeks, six days and 23 hours were probably hard and not quite as much fun as the on-camera bits. I bet there were dust and spiders… The last time demo happened in my house, I came home to find my two large dogs amid the shreds of carpet and a pillow in my living room, while the cat supervised from his perch on the side of an overturned arm chair. Yeah. Let’s not go there.
So, in the TV world, I can imagine my perfectly renovated home, see myself laying out dish after dish of perfect appetizers on a sparkling four-acre countertop while my friends lounge in the open-concept living room, chatting about their novels and the classes they have lined up. Someone’s kids are hugging the dogs and everything spilled hovers magically above the hardwood floor.
The hovering spills give away the fantasy every time. Even house TV magic can’t make that happen. My current budget for time and resources doesn’t quite stretch to massive makeovers, so I’ll imagine those counter tops while my actual guests are happy with crusty bread everyone loves served in a basket on the table that’s been in my family for over 40 years. They’ll grab a plate, bite into a doctored brownie that’ll make their eyes roll, and sink into the old couch, even if it is a little “fluffier” than when it was made. And I did not make it with a staple gun and parts from ’98 Impala.
Stay tuned for more on the Here’s a Quarter blog next week! As always, your thoughts and comments are always welcome – they are moderated (I know – adulting again), so they may take a little while to appear, but I read them all and appreciate that you were here. Thank you!