IT’S BLASTED, cracked, pulverized, demolished and destroyed. What could bring on such a calamity? The news that HGTV’S House Hunters show is fake.
The show’s format is simple: a couple looking for a house are shown three properties and have to choose the one best suited to their tastes and budget. Almost inevitably none of the houses come up to their exacting standards of kitchen amenities or under their budget but nevertheless they pick one. Although it now appears that they opt for the one they’ve already bought. The two rejected ones are just there to give viewers the fun of picking one themselves and then shouting at the screen when the couple chooses another. The fakery was revealed back in 2008 but no one paid any attention to it, and then again in 2010 and this year by the blog Hooked on Houses.
House Hunters is one of those programmes I was slowly drawn into because Ev watched it and I absorbed it through some kind of twisted osmosis, usually while trying to read. It’s not great television, not by a long shot (that title belongs to RuPaul’s Drag Race) but it is fascinating for the continual procession of bloody idiots who appear on it. Buying a house is a long, complicated and boring process - I should know, I’ve done it twice - but it’s still interesting to watch from a purely voyeuristic point of view and let’s face it, 90% of TV shows these days are basically legalised voyeurism. After all, you’re getting to see the insides of other people’s houses and take the piss out of their terrible decorating decisions, says the guy sitting in a blood-red room with a shelf full of toy Minis.
Why are they idiots? Well, they’re not all idiots but generally the people ostensibly looking for houses will bitch and moan about stuff that really isn’t worth bitching and moaning about. Our personal favourites include the woman who thought the living room was a horrible colour (it’s called paint, dear, and you can buy it at several thousand locations); the bloke who looked at a huge house in Atlanta with five bedrooms and a garden the size of Regent’s Park and promptly complained that it was too expensive at $250,000, a figure that would barely cover a cardboard box under a bridge here in Southern California; and the inevitable and practically mandatory complaints that the granite countertops are older than six months or the bathroom isn’t the size of Rhode Island.
Try using it for a drinking game. Take a shot every time one of the “hunters’ says, “Those kitchen counters don’t look like granite”. Take another when the words “I don’t like the colour of the walls” waft from the telly’s speaker. Have one when the bloke complains about the 70s wood panelling. And help yourself to another shot - assuming you’re still in possession of alcohol - if the immortal phrase “this would be great for entertaining” leaves the mouth of anyone on the screen. You’ll be pissed as a rat by the second ad break and dead by the third. But the news that the show is, to use a technical term, bullshit makes me realise why the hunters always choose a crappy expensive home over a cheaper, better one.
The news that House Hunters is fabricated raises the question of whether its international version - imaginatively called House Hunters International - is also fake, although the idea that HGTV would shell out for people to fly to Paris, Albania, London, Barbados and other locations just to be paid to lie on camera is almost too ludicrous to entertain. Then again Fox News is an actual thing, so I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised. If anything the people on HHI are even more stupid because it’s obvious they’ve done absolutely no research on the places they want to live in, like the woman who wanted to move to Paris and buy a flat overlooking the Seine whose budget would barely have covered a trailer in Alabama. And sometimes it’s just cringe-making watching some idiot American who doesn’t realise that not all countries put a premium on having multiple bathrooms, granite kitchens with stainless-steel fittings and closets big enough to walk through slagging off a small Irish cottage because none of the taps are made by Kohler.
I don’t know why HGTV went to the effort of faking this show. I mean, how desperate for it were they that someone somewhere gave the go-ahead to basically bullshit thousands of TV viewers? But then they’re the channel that came up with Turf Wars so their decision to concoct House Hunters makes perfect sense. After all, if you’re going to actually go to the expense, time and effort to produce a programme about lawns, faking a house-hunting show seems like the best idea in the world. But it does make you wonder what other programmes are faked… not that you have to wonder about anything on the execrable E! Network.