Posted July 30: I always found ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition hard to sit through. In hindsight, the show is the epitome of ’00’s excess, albeit clothed in altruistic robes. Pick a deserving family, struck by terrible health misfortune or just simply down on their luck, and “gift” them back into relevance with a spanking remodeling of their inadequate homespace. But not just home improvements; rather, lavish new palaces of conspicuous consumption — the kind of houses that most Americans need to seriously tax their plastic in order to achieve (and apparently have, in great numbers). Top it all off with a public unveiling as hundreds of friends, neighbors and bystanders-trucked-in gather around the front lawn and erupt into orgasmic screeches and delirious applause. Eeeeeeeeeeee!
It wasn’t so much the garish redecorations that got to me (to each his own), but rather those highly choreographed and obligatory mass screamings at the end. You also see this ritualistic excitement during Oprah’s potlatch giveaways and on other similar talk shows. The “Big Give.” Someday, anthropologists are going to look back on this show, and those final moments of each episode in particular, and give a serious glance askew at this weird hypnotic behavior that Americans were engaging in at the time.
Anyhow, my prompt for this post was this story about one of the lucky families who were McMansion-gifted by Extreme Makeover. Reportedly they turned around and borrowed against their new Atlanta house (worth $450,000) and sank all their money into a construction business that failed. Now the gift-house is in foreclosure. (As kaput, it would seem, as the new-home construction scene in Atlanta. Maybe this annoying and borderline bizarre show will go off the air as well.)
Updated: Maybe I had a psychic vision here because it turns out that Extreme Makeover is coming to CNY. Quite possibly because CNY pretty much avoided the housing bubble, and homebuilders in other parts of the country have already gone bankrupt.
(I have a feeling I know who the lucky recipients are — the homebuilder’s location is a bit of a hint. If it’s them, they are indeed extremely deserving, and I hope they get something appropriate for their needs, with a minimum of disruption to their lives.)