Friday, January 27, 2012

Television Time-Suck: House Hunters

Posted by on Fri, Jan 27, 2012 at 12:40 PM

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Welcome to the first edition of Television Time-Suck, a series of love letters to those marathon viewing sessions that erase so many hours of our one life on this earth.

This isn’t an examination of the shows you plan ahead for, like when you roped off that weekend for Season Four of The Wire. No, this is background TV, hangover TV, sick day TV, stormy weather TV — the kind that makes you feel guilty, but satisfied.

First up, HGTV’s House Hunters.

Is it formulaic?
Home buyers view three houses and choose one. The end. Of course, television magic dictates that one of the homes has already been purchased by the participants, making the other two ringers. But no matter! It’s up to us, the viewer, to decide which house is best. That exercise is even more fun when watching the glamorous cousin of “House Hunters,” “House Hunters: International.” The international version has taught me many things about the relative bathing habits of people around the world, not to mention reaffirming my belief that money can buy anything in Dubai, except taste. The most consistent part of the formula seems to be that people rarely choose wisely.

What are you yelling at the TV?
“How do you not know your husband is gay?!”

Ooh, the best part of House Hunters is the judgment. Not judging the houses, mind you: even though the age and design of the homes change from episode to episode, they’re mostly nice middle-class domiciles that avoid avant-garde pretentions. No, we get to judge the buyers! Just look at all those horrible people, nattering on about “man caves” and walk-in closets, and don’t these morons know that open-plan layouts mean you have to keep everything clean, all of the time? Just because it’s currently painted pink doesn’t mean it can’t be an office! There is no way you can afford a McMansion over an updated ranch! And, again, why can’t you see that your husband is so, so gay?

What kind of time is wasted?
Sometimes you’ll find a weekend marathon, but House Hunters is best watched as an avoidance of bedtime. Sure, you’re tired, but you just need to see if the newlyweds pick that cute bungalow. Oh, and the next episode is set in San Francisco? Gee, I bet those places are really expensive but filled with lovely architectural features! Just 30 more minutes, then off to sleep.

Next Time: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

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