Sunday, March 24, 2013

Sunday-Morning Griping: HGTV Edition ...

There is snow on the way.

It is March 24th.

I've been in better moods.

But this post isn't about snow. (Yesterday's post was about snow.)

This post is borne out of a comment I left on a friend's Facebook page yesterday.

I wrote: "HGTV has become 20 hours of some version of 'House Hunters,' two hours of infomercials, and two hours of random bad shows made on the cheap. Any good programming that seeps onto that network is bought from Canada, it seems. Sad."

Which led me to plug this search phrase into Google: "remember when HGTV featured design shows".

Which led me to "Where have they all gone????", a message-board string discussing the disappearance of most of the shows that used to draw folks to HGTV.

You know where I found that message board?


There are other, similar strings in the forum, too.

Which made me wonder:

a) ... if anyone who works for the network ever reads the message boards, or ...

b) ... if anyone who works for the network cares what viewers think.

Because it's right there, network types. Unsolicited feedback, free for the taking. No need to pay for focus groups. No need to pay anyone $100 for their time or even buy them dinner.

Now, granted, when I do happen to land on channel 229, I see plenty of advertisements, so perhaps the thinking is that so long as you're selling all the ad slots, there's no need to concern yourselves with what programming falls in between said ads.

If the goal is that narrow, you're achieving it.

But for what it's worth, there's a big contingent of fans out here who used to tune in who have given up because if you're not going to put in any effort, why should we?

You're like a 24-hour diner that used to have a great menu but that's started serving popcorn 20 hours a day instead because it's easy and cheap to produce.

I've mentioned similar things before. There was the post about the awful new format of "Design Star," so snarky as to border on mean. And then there was the post about the network simply not being anything like what it used to be.

But now, each day is programmed in giant blocks. It's really stupid. The occasional marathon weekend? Sure, why not. But programming every day in chucks of shows, thereby giving viewers who don't like a given show absolutely no reason to tune in for seven hours at a crack? How does that make sense? Even folks who love "House Hunters" probably aren't going to watch 14 episodes in a row.

Today's schedule is rather typical. It's not Sunday-specific.

Here's what's on deck for the day, from 7 a.m. today through 3:30 a.m. tomorrow. (Infomercials happen during the other few hours):

7 a.m. – 10 a.m.: Cousins on Call

10 a.m. – 11 a.m.: Flea Market Flip

11 a.m. – 12 p.m.: Property Brothers

12 p.m. – 1 p.m.: Love It or List It

1 p.m. – 8 p.m.: House Hunters and/or House Hunters International

8 p.m. – 9 p.m.: Extreme Homes

9 p.m. – 10 p.m.: Hawaii Life

10 p.m. – 12 a.m.: Reruns of House Hunters and/or House Hunters International that aired earlier in the day

12 a.m. – 1 a.m.: Reruns of Hawaii Life that aired during the evening of the previous in the day

1 a.m. – 3 a.m.: Reruns of House Hunters and/or House Hunters International that aired during the evening of the previous day

3 a.m. – 3:30 a.m.: Rerun of Extreme Homes than aired during the evening of the previous day

You see my point. I don't much care for "Cousins on Call," so I have no reason to tune in for the first three hours of the broadcast day. "Flea Market Flip" is stupid and a fine example of programming on the cheap. The winning contestants split $5,000. Oooh. "Property Brothers" and "Love It or List It" are overexposed. (But that hasn't prevented the appearance of "Buying and Selling" [aka "Property Brothers, The Sequel"] and "Love It or List It, Too," [quite literally "Love It or List It, The Sequel."]) My gripes about the entire "House Hunters" franchise are well known to readers of this blog. (In a nutshell, house hunters need to find something more to gripe about than the color of a room or the hardware on kitchen cabinets.) "Extreme Homes" is usually a dud for me. (Look, someone built a weird-shaped home in the middle of a field!) And "Hawaii Life" is "House Hunters" set in Hawaii. Seriously, HGTV, we don't want to see another show devoted to people looking at homes. Yes, I know they're cheap to produce. But you're driving away your audience.

Speaking of cheap to produce, I ran across a press release touting four new shows in 2013. They are:

– The aforementioned "Hawaii Life," which is relatable to almost no one.

– The aforementioned "Cousins on Call," which is fine when offered an episode at a time, but don't shove three hours of it in a row at viewers.

– "Scoring the Deal," which is "House Hunters" for rich sports dudes, which is less relatable than "Hawaii Life."


– "Spontaneous Construction, on tap to premiere in February, [which] will activate a 'task mob' to help homeowners who are struggling with a renovation project. By harnessing the power of email, Facebook, Twitter, Craigslist and others, host Ricky Paull Goldin recruits a massive group of dancing, flash-mobbing strangers. Carpenters, skilled laborers and helping hands join forces to create stunning renovations - and have a ton of fun along the way."

February has come and gone. I have seen no sign of "Spontaneous Construction" and I hope to God I don't. Has there ever been a more absurd premise for a show? If the description of your construction show contains the phrase "dancing, flash-mobbing strangers," something has already gone horribly, horribly wrong.

I can appreciate trying to develop a show that's interactive for viewers. That's what Rate My Space tried to be. (And by the way, y'all know I know Angelo, who used to be on HGTV's talent roster. Consider this full disclosure. This post has nothing to do with him.) But crowdsourcing a renovation? What the hell kind of stupid idea is that? Would you want a mob of strangers working on your house? What could possibly go wrong?

OK, the coffee's kicked in. I'm feeling much better now, much less gripe-y. But one last thought, HGTV, if you're reading (and I'm sure you're not): Enough with the fake drama that's injected into the shows. If I wanted to watch bitchy people, I'd tune into some "Real Housewives of ..." franchise or "Jerseylicious."

There's a reason I never tune into any "Real Housewives" franchise or "Jerseylicious."


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