I tell myself that I don’t watch “reality” television shows with their fake drama and concocted conflict. After all, I have avoided all episodes of Honey Boo-boo, The Real Housewives of Fill in the Blank and The Hoarders.
I have, however, watched most episodes of the home improvement shows, or “house porn” as my husband calls them. Like their cousins, these “reality” shows are divorced from true reality. On these shows, paint dries instantly, all carpentry projects are completed perfectly the first time, and building permits are approved without problems.
Of course, they do encounter some setbacks in the course of removing walls and building new additions to the eight hundred square cottage so it will comfortably accommodate a family of twelve. In order to heighten conflict, the problems that do occur are usually unforseen, leading to a budget crisis. After all, how could anyone every suspect that the one hundred year old house had crumbling clay pipes that would necessitate the complete and costly replacement of the entire drainage system?
With the magic of time-lapse photography, the renovation is completed in forty-five minutes, the time allotted to the program. Of course the boring parts, the real parts, are left out entirely.
In spite of all of this, I find the home improvement “reality” programs relaxing. Why? Probably because the “reality” shows that focus on relationships rarely resolve conflicts and the participants are often injured, emotionally and sometimes physically. If the conflicts were resolved, the series would be cancelled.
In contrast, the end result of the home improvement show is that a couple, or a family, end up with a home that they like. Usually, no one is injured, conflicts have been resolved and the viewer gets some insight into what it takes to product a work of art – the home. Definitely a happy ending.