Every Sunday evening, I like to curl up with a nice, 28-ply cashmere throw, sip imported tea from a rare Mesopotamian golden goblet, and flip my 48-inch plasma television to ABC to catch Extreme Home Makeover, where poor and unfortunate people are given homes and various other accoutrements, largely sponsored by Sears. In the past, I would watch in glee and sadness as the blind, deaf, autistic, widowed and cursed heartland of America was given one more chance of freedom, of hope. Last night’s episode, however, went overboard. While part of the show’s fun lies in bequeathing Kenmore appliances to the poor, one of the most interesting parts is seeing how the troupe of 500-plus builders, contractors and designers puts together a house in only seven days. Yesterday it was Kassandra Okvath, an adorable 8-year-old girl battling cancer, who requested that the show redecorate the children’s cancer ward at the University Medical Center in Tucson, Arizona. The show obliged, but also secretly gave Kassandra and her large family unit a brand new home themselves. Overall, a grand idea.
But lately, the shows self-congratulatory testimonials and interstitials have seemed to overpower the design aspect, so that instead of seeing the house being built we’re seeing Ty Penington give knuckle sandwiches to the staff, making video clips of himself for the family, and shouting at the staff/America using an unneeded bullhorn. Ty Penington: Carpenter with a Soulpatch of Gold.
In addition to the usual cringe-worthy antics of Ty, we had a whole load of other bullshit to put up with last night. One of the designers decided to write a children’s book inspired by Kassandra’s life, entitled something akin to “The Power of Love” or “A Child’s Love”, etc. The designer, Pat O’Theback, tearfully explained the concept of the book, which then led to a Reading Rainbow-style cartoon mock-up of the illustrations with a young child reading the prose. This lasted roughly 2 minutes, i.e. 2 minutes too long. Sitting alone in my Soho loft, petting my Norfolk terrier Coco, I shouted to everyone and no one at the same time “Why am I watching this?!?” The concept of the show in itself is shlocky. The last thing ABC needs to do is drizzle more sadness and affection on top of emotions that speak for themselves.
Later on, a female designer named Chris Myass told of an adorable anecdote (note: vomit-inducing). When small Kassandra (a real doll of a kid) was waiting to see their new digs, she was shivering. The designer, in a fit of kindness, lent the little girl her coat — a pink, hooded nightmare that would only look appropriate on a girl of 8, and which coincidentally fit her like a glove. Cutting to a testimonial, Chris explained how generous she was, saying “Kassandra looked so adorable in my coatâ€¦. Yes, she can keep it. (big, self-congratulatory smile).” Well whoopdeefuckindo. These people are being given a stunning adobe-style mansion and we’re wasting a minute of airtime talking about your goddamn coat that just got off the hein-train, last stop, My Incinerator?
Meanwhile, the house was gorgeous, as was the hospital they redecorated (albeit with Disney characters ” nice tie-in, ABC.) But did we see how it happened? No. Why? Maybe because ABC is really milking this dying cow for all it’s worth by airing another episode Monday nights called “How’d They Do That?”, which is basically what the show used to be before it turned into the Jerry Lewis Hell-a-thon. Note to ABC: When you pepper the whole show with crying morons and over-the-top shmaltziness, it really takes away from the climax of tears at the end of the episode. And seriously? Ty Pennington? YOU’RE A GROWN MAN. Act as such.
Oh, and p.s.: Nice book title. Ty’s Tricks. I know a lot of guys in the West Village who’d love to talk to you about yourâ€¦ “tricks.”
Today’s meaningless rant brought to you by: Day jobs. When life serves you lemons, squeeze â€˜em on your wounds.