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Tuesday, December 18, 2018  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

Paul Turner: Sharpen your snark for this summer’s home remodeling shows

The basketball playoffs are over.

The hockey playoffs are done.

But the HGTV season goes on forever.

You can still yell at the television screen while watching TV contractors offer ludicrously low estimates on a full kitchen reno. You can still snort and make faces while bickering on-screen couples search for the perfect home without ever mentioning that crime is their No. 1 neighborhood issue.

Once in a while, you might even see Spokane or Coeur d’Alene.

“Hey, I recognize the street they’re on!”

Ratings don’t lie. Shelter shows rule.

Oh, sure. You can sit back and view passively. You can quietly accept what you see and hear as grout is applied and cabinets are painted.

Or you can watch HGTV and similar channels like a sports fan – interactively.

“C’mon, for the love of … you call that an en suite?”

To each his own, but speaking up might be more fun.

There’s just something satisfying in loudly voicing skepticism about, say, the supposedly spontaneous, unscripted exchanges between a remodeler and a homeowner seemingly unacquainted with load-bearing reality.

“Hey, I got’cher open concept right here.”

And who could deny that it is fun to speculate in a snarky way about where a fresh-faced young couple is getting the dough for their $799,000 offer.

“Midcentury daddy with a checkbook.”

OK, make no mistake. For certain viewers, these shows can be highly entertaining. As has been noted, they almost always deliver happy endings.

I watched one last week featuring a couple looking for a new home in a city where I lived in a previous century. It was fascinating, especially the husband’s arguably amusing preoccupation with having plenty of room for his wine coolers. The pained expressions his wife made were fun.

It made me wonder. What stories could Spokane real estate agents tell? Does every couple have its own version of Mr. Wine Coolers’ obsession?

Perhaps the HGTV show easiest to boo is the one featuring the couple who had a program where they would flip houses in California for substantial profits. Then they had a highly public breakup. Guns were involved. Perhaps you read about it. Coverage was almost inescapable.

So much for them, right? Nope. The network brought them back. Apparently they had become too big to jettison forever.

Besides, nobody is ashamed of anything anymore.

Their new show’s intro briefly alludes to their troubled history. But mostly it’s the same old, same old.

Except now the temptation for viewers to trash-talk the divorced pair is almost impossible to resist.

You can address the action on the screen from the comfort of your recliner.

“Don’t like her choice for the back-splash tiles, Tarek? Pull your gun on her!”

“Think your ex-husband is asking too much for your latest flip home, Christina? Maybe he has to because the divorce settlement wiped him out.”

“C’mon you two, snipe! Enough already about the plumbing upgrades.”

Of course, if you’re of a mind, you can heckle pretty much any HGTV show.

It’s enough just to grumble “Fat chance,” “No way,” or “Doubt it” about cost estimates or predictions of how long finishing the basement would take.

That and hoping to see a rat scamper through the room when the door is first opened on a rundown reno house. (Even if the rat might be a hired walk-on.) Or to watch as an insect infestation is uncovered when rotten drywall is torn out.

You know, stuff that makes you feel good about the state of your own domicile.

Another excellent reason to watch these shows is to get out of actually doing household projects yourself. At least for awhile.

Remembering a teacher

“Toward the end of the 10th grade, my French teacher, Sister Dorothy Lentz, took me aside in the cloakroom and told me that I might be capable of becoming a National Merit Scholar,” wrote Sue Hallett, of Colfax. “The first step was taking an exam later that year. I was a quiet mousy little thing and it never occurred to me to aspire to such a goal, but I took the exam with a different attitude because of her suggestion. There’s a lot more to the story, but I eventually earned a full ride to Gonzaga, which was a godsend to me and my hard-working single mother. To this day I believe I owe a lot of that to Sister Dorothy. Teachers can’t know which encouraging word might change a student’s life.”


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