Friday, 22 February 2008

Help! I'm A Binge Makeover Show Addict!

Hah, I thought smugly in my other capacity as a comedy addict when viewing the new Mitchell & Webb TV series last night featuring the hilarious excerpt from their new Sensitive Freakshow Season - 'The Boy With An Arse For A Face' – at least I don’t watch the worst human freak shows.
But is a diet of Diet Doctors, Ten Years Younger, Spendaholics, Property Ladder, Location Location Location, The House Doctor, FreakyEaters, How Clean is Your House? How to Pay Off Your Mortgage in Two Years, Grand Designs, A New Life In The Country, It’s Me Or The Dog & Colin and Justin any more edifying? Any better a use of all the hours of my life I’ll never get back?
Well all the house stuff I can justify as ‘research’ for my job in property (albeit not usually private houses), but all the personal makeover shows are a little harder.
Since the dictionary definition of 'voyeurism' is someone who gets a sexual kick out of watching others, a response I am hitherto unaware of while watching makeover shows, I think it unlikely.
Nosiness? Well of course. The human condition is unfailingly fascinating and it’s amazing how not being able to clean their house, living with a nose the size of the Himalayas, being hopelessly financially incontinent, or unable to stop gambling ends up being the key to revealing the whole person through that very weakness.
However it’s easy to watch these shows and be lulled into a false sense of security about oneself, ie; however much of a failure I am at least I have a clean house and no gambling addiction.
So while they can work on the one hand to cheer oneself after a bad day, one has to be very careful not to let the fact that one would make dull television by comparison, be confused with succeeding in life!
Notwithstanding there is something inspiring, even moving about watching a programme featuring someone who has scarcely left their house for ten years owing to some personal tragedy, finally being given the courage to overcome their agoraphobia via the expert help they wouldn’t possibly have been able to afford otherwise, and knowing that their life really has improved for the better, even if they invariably continue to experience the odd wobbly day now and then, or how a house de-cluttered and fully steamcleaned for the first time in twenty years inspires the inhabitant who was ‘stuck’ in that mindset for whatever reason, to then want to revamp and brighten every aspect of their lives.
The ‘big reveal’ or transformation of the house or individual at the end of the show is as irresistible and magical a moment as redemption. Perhaps it is a kind of redemption.
Of course television will exaggerate, bend the truth and even exploit, and not all such shows do more good than harm. Supernanny in particular has been singled out for criticism recently for deliberately making parents look worse and more inept than they really are, and even deliberately winding the kids up to exacerbate their bad behaviour for the cameras! Cosmetic makeovers don’t always last long, though of course the participants need to do their bit to maintain their new looks.
As for the sad endictment all these programmes are on a society which has seemingly forgotten how to clean their houses, manage their money, raise their kids, rule their dogs, enjoy functional relationships, well yes that is rather alarming, though thinking about my own areas of ineptitude, I am bound to believe that we must all fall short on at least one major area of basic lifeskills, and this has merely been untalked about/unrevealed until the last ten or fifteen years.
So to sum up, makeover programmes for me are:

a. a yardstick by which I measure my own progress in life against other peoples’
b. learn how other people deal with and get through life/how they think.
c. Absorb all decent tips & advice dished out in addition to seeing how participants fare on their programme ‘journey’.
d. Enjoy the transformation at the end. I believe in personal renaissance and second chances!

Is that enough junkie justification for the fact I wasted one whole hour on a young green-fingered gay man with transformer toy addiction spending more than twice his monthly income on Gucci products, followed by another whole hour on a DJ who was terrified of fruit and vegetables last night? In my defence, I no longer tape a single one of these programmes (digital ensures they are all repeated about five minutes later!)

Photo from Channel 4's Ten Years Younger


Rol Hirst said...

I refuse to watch reality on television as reality long since ceased to interest me - I'd much rather have fiction.

That said, I'm curious about the veg-phobic DJ. Most of the ones I know are far too shallow to be afraid of anything.

Dan said...

Great points - shows like Spendaholics tend to assuage one's own fears, thinking "hey, I'm not THAT bad!" - schadenfreude therapy.

Reluctant Blogger said...

I don't watch those sort of programmes either. It makes it difficult to join in conversations at work sometimes as everyone else seems to. I don't watch makeover progs or anything (other than Eurovision) that involves voting. It's not a snobby thing - they just don't interest me, probably for similar reasons to what Rol said.

You are very prolific at the moment!!

As for my friend who writes like you, sadly I cannot really link you to her blog as she is one of Tracy's friends and I don't want Tracy to know that i have returned to blogging because I know she would be tempted to read. I agreed I would not stay in contact with any of "our" old friends - sad really cos Sally is lovely and I miss her.

More info than you needed probably!

Preposterous Ponderings said...

I get told I look younger than what I am all of the time. I don't see it though.

I am a grandmother of 2 and my oldest son is in his 20's.Most people who don't know us think we are siblings.LOL

I'd give anything to be in my 20's, or even 30's, again!!!

moi said...

Reality Smellyvision reigns supreme here in Da States. And I must admit to a sneaking fascination with some of the shows. Like working a hangnail, you know you're supposed to leave it alone, but what they hey. Hurts so good. I must also firmly assert that the criticism against Supernanny is simply not deserved. I rather think it understates today's sorry state of parental affairs.

Steve said...

I never used to watch this type of programme but since being married / domesticated I'm rather perturbed to find most of the programmes you mentioned have appeared on my TV screen at one time or the other and I've been happy to immerse myself in them. My defence is that they induce in me a state of near coma and thus help me acquire a much needed good night's sleep.

However, I suspect that, just like the rest of the world, I watch this programme out of some kind of species-wide facility for self-obsession. People like to people watch. The mundane doesn't entertain but the bizarre invariably does. As for Voyeurism... hmm. Have to say Kirstie on Location Location Location does it for me and the lady on A Place In The Sun does too. Guilty as charged. How Clean Is Your House though illicits no feelings of naughtiness at all. Ever.

Good to see Sir Digby Chicken Caesar back on the telly... :-)

KAZ said...

I got addicted with that "Style Challenge" in the late 90s.
It was on BBC in the mornings when I was out of work and gave Kirsty Young her big break.
I can take Trinny and Susannah - but not 'Look Good Naked'

The Sagittarian said...

I confess that I really got hooked into Colin and Justin, they are hilarious! Then again, I found Laurence Lewellen-Namedrop-Big Blouse amusing as well.

The Poet Laura-eate said...

How reassuring I am not the only one bearing this guilty secret Steve, Moi, Kaz and Amanda (tho' Kirsty Allsop fetish isn't my reason for enjoying Locationx3 Steve!) However re junk TV I do draw the line at Big Brother (gratuitously cruel, crass and stupid with no redeeming features)any quiz show (boring) and all sports (missing the requisite gene to appreciate!)

And some transformation shows such as How to Look Good Naked are too pointless even for me, not to mention being freaked by presenter 'Gok'. As for Trinny and Susannah, the moment they strayed from clothes into marital guidance and playing the shrink, that was well dodgy.

RB, yes I'm trying to up my writing ante lately & develop this blog. Rol, I started from the opposite standpoint and am now far more interested in real life, finding it far stranger than fiction, although some of it is downright depressing/artless & it's nice to be in total control of fiction at least!