Does your house make you feel bad about yourself? Is it a small and hovel-like? Are you embarrassed to have people over? Perhaps you, and other Americans just like you, were hoping that one day a reality TV show would come along about houses that were much, much worse than yours? Maybe one with a host who says nasty things? A show that would allow you to feel smugly self-satisfied for at least a little while? Well, A&E knows exactly how you feel.
The network is launching a new show called—what else?—”Hideous Houses.” Let the shaming begin!
In exchange for a $20,000 renovation, homeowners must subject themselves to scrutiny and judgement, as well as a host who frequently yells, “The House is Hideous!” reports The New York Times, who recently did a short Q&A with the show’s creator and executive producer Ellen Rakieten.
But what kind of masochistic homeowner would do this to themselves? asks The Times, apparently unaware of the hordes clamoring to abase themselves for a brief chance in the spotlight. Ms. Rakieten, after chuckling quietly to herself at The Times’ naiveté, explained that after doing “outreach”—sounds benevolent, doesn’t it?—in three cities, producers had 207 houses to chose from. And although some submissions were sent in by neighbors, none of the homes that they approached turned them down. (She adds that it’s hard to say no when a producer knocks on your door to inform you that the community feels you have the ugliest house in town.)
But with so many ugly houses, how do producers pick just a few?
“A lot of the submissions were more hoarderesque than hideous homes. We wanted to focus on people who had bad taste,” replied Ms. Rakieten, adding that, of course, her producers approached prospectives in a “respectful” way, couching the shaming in the language of self-improvement.
Nonetheless, The Times notes, that didn’t stop the hosts from telling one family, whose son was living in a dilapidated carport/garage, that their home smelled like dead animals. Bad smells aside, if your teenaged son is living in a garage with a leaking roof, maybe your problems have more to do with money than taste? Which points to an uncomfortable feature of television shows that pay for makeovers/much-needed improvements in exchange for making fun of participants—the people who are most likely to offer themselves and their houses up as laughingstocks are the people who need the money, people who feel bad that their kids are living in dingy spaces with leaky roofs. Money doesn’t buy taste, but it certainly helps, and laughing at people who don’t have enough of it, seems, well, in bad taste.