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Opinion >  Column

Paul Turner: A support group for the HGTV-obsessed

Paul Turner (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Paul Turner (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

So I admit it.

I’m a bit obsessed with HGTV.

That will not come as news to regular readers of this column. I’m already on record as being hooked by the network’s tried-and-true formula of showing sorry-looking houses transformed into updated charmers. And I think I’ve even proposed a drinking game based on HGTV utterances of signature phrases such as “open concept” and “en suite,” et cetera.

It’s not that I’m all that interested in this stuff. I’m really not.

But there’s something about seeing houses with problems way worse than your own home’s that is somehow comforting. Then there’s the happy endings. Everything gets improved. The gross bathtubs go away.

Still, it’s not all good news. In fact, I’ve even thought of forming Spokane support groups to help those bummed out by a few persistent HGTV themes.

Here’s some of what I have in mind.

A support network for Spokane-area residents who do not have islands in their kitchens: This group would strive to bolster the spirits of those living in homes burdened with what HGTV might describe as disappointing kitchens.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that those who do not have an island in their kitchen have no reason to live. My own house doesn’t have a kitchen island and somehow my wife and I manage to get up and face the day.

But if you watch enough HGTV, it’s quite possible to conclude that those of us sans islands are living like losers. (And those of you who do have islands should be aware that yours probably aren’t stylish enough.)

So what do I propose?

I’m thinking of setting up a buddy system. That way, when someone without a kitchen island gets really down, he or she can reach out to his or her support connection.

“Hello, Paul? I was just standing in my kitchen and the shame of not having an island is overwhelming. What can I do? We had someone over tonight and when she got to the kitchen, well, she judged us. She JUDGED us, man. I could see it in her eyes. My self-esteem is on life support.”

Group members might have a secret handshake and we could put on a fun run, to raise money for kitchen remodeling. For the needy.

Another support group for local HGTV viewers might focus on home-entertaining envy.

If you have watched the network even just a little, you know people in those shows are constantly talking about how this room or that room would be perfect for parties. Viewers quickly get the impression that practically everybody out there is socializing like mad.

Everybody, that is, except you.

Even if you have a fairly active social calendar, chances are a few dozen hours watching HGTV will leave you feeling like an uninvited wallflower.

A targeted support network could involve having group members occasionally sending texts to one another. The messages could be simple.

“Hi, Bob. We’re home and not having a party. We’re just watching TV, like you.”

You could write back. “Thanks. Do you think we would do more entertaining if we had kitchen islands?”

Another support group made necessary by watching HGTV could address the fear that some hidden disaster lurks in your home. You know, invasive mold, water damage, termites or some other infestation, faulty wiring, asbestos, failing pipes – the sorts of things that make you lie awake in bed, staring wide-eyed at the ceiling.

The sorts of problems home rehabbers discover behind walls every day on HGTV.

Support network members would occasionally drop by your place, give your basement and mud room a once over and then declare everything seems fine.

“I wouldn’t worry about that smell. Chances are, it’s just multigenerational funk embedded in the drywall. And I’m guessing those noises you have been hearing at 3 a.m. are just normal house settling sounds. Unless it’s rodents in the attic.”

Finally, how about a support group for Spokane HGTV viewers who have a hard time connecting with the concept of limitless money as presented on that network?

Whether it’s a house-flipper encountering cost overruns or a homeowner being asked to increase the budget, residents of HGTV World always seem able to cough up an extra $15,000. Well, not always. But often enough that some Spokane viewers might wonder if HGTV is a mythical place.

In the words of that old “Mystery Science Theater 3000” theme song, those in the support network would remind each other it’s just a show.

I should really just relax.

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