Ever since the days of The Real World, reality tv has steadily taken over the sitcom format that had once been so popular. These real tv programs are popping up like weeds with endless shapes and sizes all over our television landscape. And just like weeds, they’re hard to fight.
I happened to have watched The Real World from time to time and I admit that I enjoyed it. It seemed so real and edgy, like a hip 60 minutes or something.
Unfortunately, as reality tv grew in popularity, it started to become stupid and I simply tuned out. Later down the line, the idea to show the “real lives” of black people took hold, and once again I started to watch. Predictably, a lot of those shows were stupid as well and I carefully picked which ones to watch. Rev Run’s House, P. Diddy’s House, Real Housewives of ATL and the Kardashian’s House and even Mario Van Peebles’ House were my choices for a time. In this new crop, some were more interesting than others; eventually I became bored of them as well.
Then HGTV sprung up on the scene. I had known it was out there, but one day while channel surfing I landed squarely on channel 67 and was immediately hooked. It was that sweet formulaic fairytale appeal that drew me in. (Formulaic ain’t always a bad thing). I bit the apple–hard.
As I watched, I fell deeply in love. There’s something to be said of a network that is all about interior design, beautiful paint colors, gorgeous fabrics, decorating and home improvement, 24-7-365! There are so many shows! Shows that design on a dime, Shows that reuse and repurpose, shows that shop in flea markets, home depots, antique stores. Shows about buying old houses and/or new houses, then decorating them. So many wonderful shows! My favorite one of all is “Curb Appeal” because they STAY fixing up houses right here in Oakland! I get to see The Town in a positive light for a change. And when they’re not in Oakland, they’re in the Atlanta GA area, which is the area I wouldn’t mind retiring in! Thanks HGTV for showing me how beautiful it is!
In addition to all of these wonderful things, the aspect that truly stands out for me with this network is the racial diversity on display. Most especially of black folks in positive, human ways, that have nothing to do with being black. From the shows featuring college students on a budget, to those featuring the very rich buying dream mansions, there is a beautiful balance of racial diversity, which is so refreshing! It seems that they approach it as though creating a work of art, and it works! For example, a young black girl about 26 years old rebuilds her life after having lost a job. She gets a new and better one, and later buys her first home in Tampa Fl. A young 20-something black brother and sister duo have saved enough money to each be able to buy homes in Washington DC. They playfully bet on who will buy a home first. A Black 30-something couple who both are educators buy a beautiful huge home in Tanzania, Africa. A young black fashionista sister buys a huge historical home in Philly. A black couple has the kitchen in their Tudor home gutted and beautifully updated. A young black man sells his tiny condo to move in with his fiance and start a new life. And those are just the black people! Every race is represented so artfully.
The producers of HGTV have not only made a conscious effort to be sensitive to diversity, but also to issues that could be construed as racially insensitive. On an episode of one of the shows, a white family bought a home on a Caribbean Island. As the family was being filmed interacting with the street vendors of the town, one of the grown sons spotted a reggae cap with fake dreadlocks sewn in for sale. HGTV carefully edited the scene right at the point of the guy picking up the hat to put it on. No telling what strange/racist scene may have followed, but we were spared from having to witness it. Kudos for that.
In my favorite episode of my favorite show, Curb Appeal, the designing team actually came to DEEP East Oakland! Bold! (It was in the hills directly above Deep East Oakand but so what) They filmed a remodel of the house of a young black couple in the middle class neighborhood of Sequoyah Hills, which is filled with black homeowners. It quite possibly is a black neighborhood. Nice! How did I not know about this community? Again, thank HGTV!
So of all the reality TV shows that I’ve seen to date, I have to say that the simple fairy tale formula of boy and girl buy house of their dreams, decorate it and live happily ever after on HGTV is my favorite. It’s a nice place to escape the brutal ugliness that’s happining on all the other channels.