I’m in a long-term, heterosexual relationship. That means a few things.
One, it means that I’ve had to learn that there is some truth to all of the clichés, like apparently girls hate it when you leave the seat up after you pee. I always thought that women came equipped with two front-facing eyes. I was wrong — and must guard my mate against accidentally falling ass-first into the porcelain abyss.
Two, it means that my house smells dramatically better than it would if I were a 40-year-old single man. Our house has more candles than a Hanukkah supply store. When you enter my home, it smells of cinnamon, the “ocean” (not the actual ocean, which smells like fish — this is the candle version of the ocean, which smells like coconuts, verbena, and jojoba), and sandalwood.
Note: I have no idea what verbena, jojoba, or sandalwood are. I don’t think anyone knows. I think a man in marketing put some made-up words on the label, and the men in the meeting were too embarrassed to admit they didn’t know what they meant.
Candle Marketer: We made sure you could really smell the jojoba coming through…but then we added just a hint of verbena and sandalwood to mellow it out.
Candle Executive: But of course, I mean, what good is jojoba without verbena and sandalwood, after all?
Both retreat to their respective offices, pour peppermint schnapps into oversized coffee cups, and sob deeply at the inherent misogyny of the candle-making industry.
Whatever those things are, they beat the smell of RightGuard, leftover pizza, and beer. Plus, if we ever need to warn the Minutemen of the Redcoats’ impending landing, we’re stocked and ready.
Third, it means that if a show involves flipping, buying, or renovating a house, seeking a house in this country or any other, buying or constructing a tiny house, loving it, listing it, or two twin brothers or a sickeningly happy couple from Waco doing any of the above, I’ve probably seen it.
It’s not because I want to see these shows, mind you.
It’s because my partner likes these shows (and apparently, so do many other women, given the advertising rotation of these networks). Also, she doesn’t like my choices for our viewing pleasure: MSNBC and Family Guy on endless repeat.
For my partner, that has the appeal of falling helplessly into the toilet while the house smells like RightGuard, pizza, and beer.
Having seen a disproportionate number of episodes of Tiny International House Flipping Property Fixer Upper Brothers vis-à-vis my stereotypical straightness, I’ve noticed some idiosyncrasies that need to be explored.
Now, while I could use my fleeting hours of life to read the collected works of James Joyce or start a soup kitchen for the homeless, I think that the best use of my time and intellect is realized in making fun of the programming of HGTV.
Takes a long sip of peppermint schnapps from an oversized coffee cup. Exhales a sigh and presses forward, knowing the best comedy comes from dark places. “Dark Places” is incidentally the name of the author’s laptop.
1. There’s hardwood under every carpet.
Every show, every time, they pull back some seafoam green shag carpet and say something to the effect of “Let’s see, we might get lucky and…oh…wait…is it? It is! There are beautiful original hardwood floors under this carpet!”
There is not beautiful original hardwood flooring under every carpet in America. If the original owners had wall-to-wall hardwoods, I doubt they said, “You know, these expensive, natural hardwoods look a little too beautiful. And they don’t soak up wine or dog urine well at all. We need some carpet to bring the value of this place down a few bucks, and fast.”
Just once, I’d like them to pull up the carpet and find that it’s just dirt. As in, there’s no slab. Only soil. The original contractors just built a yurt in the shape of a house.
“Wanna know why you got this house at such a great price? You got the ‘no floor’ discount, sucker. Enjoy your yurt.”
2. Everyone loves to have people over and to entertain!
Maybe it’s just me, but I like to have people over approximately once or twice a year, tops.
Allow me to translate, for the non-committed-relationship set: My girlfriend likes to have people over four to five times a year, and I would be content to sit in my underwear and eat hot Cheetos and Takis while watching MSNBC. But if I did that, it would result in me becoming single. So, we compromise: I wear pants, and people come over occasionally.
But every couple on these shows has to make mention of the fact that they love to entertain. They love to have people over, and this open concept living room and kitchen is just perfect for entertaining!
And if there isn’t already an open concept, you can bet that they are going to just knock down that wall and really open it up.
I mean, really. Really open it up. As opposed to just kind of opening it up. “Yeah, we’re going to punch a jagged hole in this wall, but we’ll leave the wall’s framework…we don’t want to open it up too much.”
Personally, I would add extra walls to give me more dark corners in which to hide when people visit. Maybe that’s just me. But I don’t think so. I know a lot of you, and most of you hate people too. Don’t lie.
3. Every woman wants a giant closet for her shoes.
Women, you should get annoyed at this. These shows play to stereotypes. Every woman always gives the “knowing giggle” about how much of a shoe lover she is, and comments as the rest of us all know it too.
No, Emma, we don’t all assume that just because you lack a Y chromosome that you obviously need an entire room for footwear. Should I also assume that you are an editor at a New York fashion magazine?
But the male version is just as bad:
Shiplap. Say it often enough, and you might get your own show.
4. Every man wants a man cave, at least according to the woman.
Usually, the woman will make some comment about how “oh, and this could be your man cave!” when they get to some “bonus room” or basement or something. Then they all do that knowing giggle thing.
“Yep, I do love to have room for me and my other male friends to get together and shoot the breeze about how awful our wives are. But it’s okay, because we’re downstairs and surrounded by wood paneling.”
I don’t necessarily object to having a special room where I can watch football and drink beer. But because I’m not subservient to my partner, I call that special room my entire house.
Plus, she likes football and beer, so there’s that. Might wanna look into upgrading that part of your relationship before you launch into a full-scale home renovation.
By the way, what the hell is a bonus room? You’re buying the house, and you’ve undoubtedly walked through it once or twice. The room is not a surprise. It’s not like you’re going to open a closet door and it turns out it’s an entrance to Narnia.
5. The woman is in charge in every family.
I get it. There is a certain amount of deference that chivalry demands. God gave me more natural strength and broader shoulders, but as the poem goes, “the female of the species is more deadly than the male.”
God coupled those realities about me with a demeanor that genuinely does not care what color we paint the walls of the bonus Narnia. So, if my lady wants to take the lead, 1) she’s equally (much more) capable as I am to do so, and 2) she likely has an opinion (and a strong one) on the matter, and I have zero fucks to give about such topics.
The audience is mostly female, and it makes sense that they’d play up the “men are bumbling oafs, women save the day” trope here.
But in reverse, I wouldn’t joke about how I’m in charge and the little woman better have dinner on the table by the time I get home. Namely, because my partner would stab me in the face with a pencil. I also have respect for her, so I’m not going to pretend like I’m in charge and make her look meek on national TV.
Here’s the mind-blowing, unfunny truth. Women, when you laugh at this dated trope, you’re supporting the underlying structure that makes “woman in charge” be a trope in the first place, and not just a possible alignment of how a relationship works. Does that blow your mind? It should.
6. Every couple has way more money than anyone would realistically have at their age.
Okay, we’ve all seen the meme about this one. He’s a 27-year-old dog doula, and she’s a 23-year-old who carves driftwood sculptures, and their starting budget is $1.7 million, but they could go to $1.8 million for the perfect place.
That’s really it. Just fuck you very much.
7. Tiny home buyers always push to get more space.
What did they think a tiny home was? It’s in the name. It’s tiny. Going to a tiny home and then wishing it was just a little bigger is like seeking out a home in the suburbs and then wishing it was closer to town, which incidentally, I’ve also seen on these shows.
I remember when “tiny houses” were referred to as “travel trailers,” but you don’t see a show called Travel Trailer Hunters.
There’s an underserved demographic just waiting for that show. You could hug it between Fox & Friends and a rerun of Duck Dynasty. Advertise for converting your paper money to gold and Life Alert.
8. Waco is paradise, apparently.
According to Chip and Jo, the little shire of Waco is a slice of heaven, where ex-fraternity and sorority members from Baylor join megachurches and have kids with names like Shepherd and Cooper and Flannel. Where everyone drives a Suburban while sipping coffee from their Yeti or RTIC tumbler. Where your Labrador retriever can frolic with your neighbor’s Labrador retriever, while you both knowingly blame Donald Trump’s struggles on Obama.
I’ve been to Waco. It reminds me of the time I had a colonoscopy: weird and unpleasant, until I was “medicated” enough to stop caring.
They are right, there are plenty of opportunities to live out your 26-year-old former Texas fraternity boy dreams. Chances are, you’ll find a couple who looks just like you, drives a Tahoe just like yours, who thinks school vouchers are the solution to our education problems just like you do. You can all chat about it at one of the 7,000 Baptist churches in town.
Oh, and if you’re looking for diversity, be warned: Jo is one of only three Asian people in Waco. No. 2 is her mother. No. 3 is a physics professor at Baylor. Everyone else is Chip.
Waco sucks. Oh, and Art Briles sucks too. The only saving grace is that it’s where Dr. Pepper was invented.
I know what you’re thinking: Rickey, you sure know a lot about these shows for someone who purportedly hates them. And I say to you, imaginary person: It’s like Stockholm syndrome. Forced to watch these shows against my will, I have started to connect with them and identify with them.
I bitch and complain and make fun of them all the time. I roll my eyes when the remote lands in the wrong hands, because I know what’s coming. I just told you eight things that drive me nuts about these shows.
And then I find myself watching and commenting on the lack of accent color in a room they really opened up.
Pours more peppermint schnapps into Yeti tumbler and laments what he has become.