Friday, October 11, 2013


Like any self-respecting Caucasian couple, my wife and I enjoy watching HGTV home-improvement shows set in Canada. My two favorites are Property Brothers & Love It of List It.Here is my take on our two favorites:

Property Brothers – An alarmingly na├»ve couple wishes to purchase their first home in order to stop living in their friend’s and/or relative’s basement. They create a list of impractical demands (his and her mud-rooms, attic Jacuzzi, etc…) and then remark how they would really love an “open floor plan.” The Scot twins then find a home satisfying these demands and walk the couple through it before decimating their hopes and dreams by informing them that they are too poor to purchase it.
Hosts (and part-time facial-hair enthusiasts) Drew & John
The twins then propose an alternate scenario whereby the couple purchases a borderline condemned property and refurbishes it to somehow include everything they want at a fraction of the cost. This new scenario is presented to the couple using elaborate CGI mock-ups thereby giving them the audacity to once again look optimistically into their future. Once the check is written and the work has begun, the couple will then be informed that due to some unforeseen issues (water damage, mold, proximity to a Native American burial-mound) they will only be able actually complete a fraction of the work portrayed in the aforementioned residential hologram.

The couple conveys their concern, the brothers reassure them, and at some point there is a mildly heated disagreement over paint color. Finally everyone hugs, the brothers leave, and the couple realizes that they just spent $70,000 on updated electrical wiring and a new kitchen.

There are several aspects of the show that I find fascinating. The first is the budget of these couples. Despite having spent the past two years sleeping next to the water-heater in their aunt’s closet, they have somehow secured access to $500,000 to spend on a house. If you have been crashing on my futon since last Christmas and I find out you just dropped a half-million on a three-story walkup we are going to have words.

Secondly, the couple never really sells the moment where they are shown their dream home and then informed that it was all a televised ruse meant to devastate their preconceived notions concerning homeownership. I want to someone to pull a switchblade on the realtor and start screaming, “YOU THINK THIS IS A GAME YOU FILTHY CANADIAN !?”  The most I ever see is feigned surprise and the passionless admission that they “cannot afford that” right now.

Finally, I cannot help but wonder how much further the couple’s budget would stretch if there weren’t being forced to underwrite a team of graphic designers just to show them what a new toilet would look like. Every time these guys want to update the flooring Pixar gets a call.

Love It or List It – A couple who feels that their current home is unsuitable is visited by competing hosts Hilary Farr and David Visentin. Hillary attempts to renovate their current dwelling to suit their needs (“Love It”) and David attempts to convince them to move (or “List It”). Invariably the couple requests an “open floor plan” and the renovation encounters unforeseen circumstances. This is juxtaposed against David showing them at least one terrible home so that he can act surprised when they inform him that the floating asbestos staircase in the master bathroom is a deal-breaker.
Hosts (and real-estate file photo stand-ins) David & Hillary
The drama culminates in the couple being presented with the value of their newly renovated home and being asked if they wish to “love it or list it.” After a few seconds of feigned debate, we are treated to slow-motion footage of David and Hillary glancing at each other before the final decision is revealed. The tension is gut-wrenching.        

Just once I want the contractor to find human remains in the basement so I can hear Hillary say, “How am I supposed to finish the guest suite with a forensic team in here!?” I also thought I would be a nice twist if it turned out that the couple was just a pair illegal squatters who had broken in while the actual homeowners were at their timeshare in Boca Raton.

Love It or List It has inspired me to try and develop a new HGTV program called “Keep It or Claim It.” We would have a contractor come in and make improvements to the house according to your specifications. If you find the renovations agreeable, you would be free to “keep it.” If, however, you are not satisfied or borrowed more money that you can reasonably be expected to pay back; our team will provide you with accelerants and an alibi so that when your home unexpectedly burns to the ground you can “claim it” on your homeowners insurance.  

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