Dear HGTV: Don't forget the little people

Dear HGTV: Don't forget the little people

HGTV is an old friend.

The network of home makeovers and remodeling shows debuted in 1994, and I’ve been a faithful fan ever since.

I’ve daydreamed about which show I’d apply for and mentally drafted many a heart-tugging letter to the producers.

I’ve drooled over the HGTV dream home, imagining life in the low country of South Carolina, the mountains of Utah or the beaches of Martha’s Vineyard. (Do you think anybody random really wins, or is it some producer’s sister-in-law?)

I’ve camped out in Home Depot, just waiting for the “Bath Crashers” or “Kitchen Crashers” team to find me pretending to look at sinks or cabinets.

Lately, though, our relationship has been troubled. My favorite escapist network has morphed into the Realtor Channel, as one blogger put it, or more accurately, Rich Home TV.

Originally, the network lineup included shows with affordable advice for real people with normal incomes — “Designed to Sell,” the cheesy “Room by Room” and “Decorating Cents.”

That was before “House Hunters” and its spinoffs were on eight hours a day (we all know it’s staged, by the way). If I hear one more 20-something complain about the lack of granite or talk about “entertaining” I’m going to hurl the remote at the big-screen. Pay your dues, property virgin.

In between there’s a proliferation of shows about people with “budgets” of $800,000 — not a penny more — or $1.5 million for a vacation home on some island paradise.

Now I love “Property Brothers” and “Love It or List It” as much as the next homeowner. But honestly, where are all these people? A long way from “This Old House,” the grandfather of home-improvement shows.

Obviously the network knows what sells, so people must enjoy watching how the other half — quarter? — lives.

There are a few real people still on the network. “Rehab Addict” Nicole Curtis works magic with historic fixer-uppers that few others would take on — like Norm, only much cooler. And LeBron James likes her. And Chip and Joanna Gaines on the popular “Fixer Upper” show do wonders with sometimes-realistic budgets.

But even the “Crashers” have taken to choosing people who already have suburban homes with huge bathrooms and walk-in closets that just need some updating.

What about the rest of us? How about a 1938 charmer with a leaky basement, asbestos tile and cracks in the plaster?

Why can’t the “Crashers” team take on my tiny bathroom with the ’70s drop ceiling, plastic yellow tiles and wiring that disappears into who-knows-where?

It may not have the flair of a “Remake My Mansion” show, but think of the “before and after” possibilities. Very dramatic (if small).

I’m not too picky — I’m happy to be on any show, with one small caveat: I need one where they actually pay for the work. I may swoon over those Property Brothers kitchens but I don’t have $85,000 for a remodeling project.

Ideally I’d be on that old show where they’d take all your clutter and sort it for you and package it all up into nice totes and organize it on shelves in your newly remodeled room.

It could happen.

Maybe I should just write directly to Nicole, although the whole “historic” thing may be a bit of a challenge. Our house was once owned by a former city council member — does that count?

I’m thinking my letter to HGTV might just say, “Help!” with lots of photos. They can make the choice.

Meanwhile, I’ll be lurking at Home Depot.

____________________

Julie Wurth blogs about kids and families (and today, houses) and covers the University of Illinois for The News-Gazette. Leave a comment below, or contact her at 217-351-5226, jwurth@news-gazette.com, or on Twitter.com/jawurth.

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Fedupwithstatereps wrote on February 03, 2015 at 10:02 am

I agree Julie!  No more "budget friendly" series on HGTV. 

mwilli666 wrote on February 04, 2015 at 11:02 am

What a great article Julie.  My exact thoughts.  $900,000 homes.....where are these homes they come up with on Love It or List It?   I also like Mike Holmes because I learned a lot about what to look for when having work done in my home.  Room by Room was my favorite program on WILL.

Christinaloudin@hotmail.com wrote on February 04, 2015 at 2:02 pm

I enjoyed your article and truth and humor in it. I too have hung out at home improvement stores but to no avail. One day my husband asked me what was taking me so long to pick up some screws he needed and I told him I searched and searched but did not see a single star from the bath, yard and home crashers. *sigh. I agree with your assesment of all the high priced neighborhoods. So much so I have just quit watching the HGTV network altogether. Too bad. We "little" people have needs too.

Childbride72 wrote on February 05, 2015 at 9:02 am
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Julie,

This post hit a home run with me!

I watch these shows for inspiration and end up growling at the TV,

“WHERE do they find all these under 50 couples with so much money to burn?”

I’m comfortable and in the middle income bracket, but wouldn’t dream of spending $35,000

on a kitchen countertop.

I’d rather travel the world (a couple times!)

Thanks for the laughs.

Frogsrn wrote on March 03, 2015 at 12:03 pm

I live in South Carolina and I totally agree! I've been waiting on some way to get on a show that will do it all for me, whatever they want, it's insane to spend 8-9 hundred thousand dollars on home let alone a makeover or renovation. Where are the "real" people??