The Bright: Art that was designed for its own sake... but which has attained and exceeded its goals.

The Brave: Art that was designed to affect its audience, and though it may not be the most original or make the most money, it makes a statement.

The Bold: Art that was designed specifically for personal gain... which has little meaning to its audience and is arguably unoriginal.

Monday, 29 August 2011

TV Series Review: Love It or List It

The reality television series"Love It or List It," which appears primarily on the W Network (in it's fourth season now), has been a relatively successful show thus far, but will it's formula-driven episodes soon become too monotonous for its viewers?

The premise of "Love It or List It" is fairly simple. Two home owners must decide if renovations to their current house could make them happy enough to stay where they are, or if they are ready to move on to a different house. The show pits designer, Hillary, against real estate agent, David. Both are highly skilled professionals who are engaging hosts. Each episode shows them vying for the homeowners to choose their own vision over their competitor's. At the very end of each episode we witness the homeowners struggle with this question as David shows them a house with real potential within their price range, and Hillary's work on their current house is revealed and accomplished within the home owner's budget. At this point, the home owners are asked,
"Are you going to love it, or are you going to list it?"

The show's success is apparent in its continuation into its fourth season, its expansion from a half an hour time slot to hour long episodes, the addition of extra characters, increased frequency of occurence, and a better time slot. But, is the show entertaining? Here are my points:

  • The professionals seem professional enough; they do a great job and for the most part, they are very successful at both finding a possible alternative house and making good renovations to the current home. They are also pretty entertaining to watch- though we see very little of the actual work. 
  • Hillary and David may not be seen doing any of this work, but this can be over-looked because of their skills as hosts. They do have good on-screen chemistry, but the producers or director of this show must have instructed them to take it up a notch... 
  • If you watch the first season of this show, you will see the focus placed on the homes and the decision being made by the couple. If you watch the third or fourth seasons of this show, you will notice an extreme shift in focus. The focus is now placed on the drama between the two hosts, the drama between the two homeowners (who are now forced to take two opposite positions), and the drama between the homeowners and the hosts. The show goes as far as to set up fake shots in each episode where the couple goes outside and somehow "forget" that their mics are still on and they are in perfect range of that camera that's shooting them through the window while they complain about Hillary or David. 
  • I like to talk about movie formula, but this show is the perfect example of a tv series that is definitely following a devised formula far too strictly. Watch an episode and see for yourself- Here's the formula:

1. The Homeowners are introduced along with their current living problems (then the show title rolls)
2. They meet with Hillary and David and discuss their problems
3. Hillary and David walk through the current house while exchanging playful banter about who can come up with the best solution
4. Hillary and David meet back up with the homeowners to discuss the budget (which is ALWAYS deemed too low to accommodate their requests)
5. Hillary and David set to work on their tasks 
(Here's where it gets really convoluted- how is it that the homeowners ALWAYS react the same?)
6. The first house David shows them is ALWAYS a flop
7. Hillary ALWAYS runs into a major problem that means one of their wishes may not be fulfilled
8. David shows them a better house, but it still does not meet the homeowner's needs
9. The homeowners argue about David's ideas and whether or not he's getting anywhere
10. Hillary has better news, but not the best (she can do something instead, but not what they wanted)
11. The homeowners get very upset with Hillary and discuss (outside) whether or not she's getting anywhere
12. David shows the home owners the perfect house for them (and suddenly neither of the homeowners has a single complaint about this house!)
13. The homeowners come back for the reveal with Hillary and are stunned (and now they love what Hillary has done regardless of what she couldn't do)
14. The homeowners mull over their decision (pointing out positives of both.... and maaaaybe a negative or two)
15. Hillary and David ask the question (Hillary asking the first part, David asking the second part) "Are you going to love it?" "OR are you going to list it?"
16. The homeowners say what they would like to do: "I think we're going to (LONG PAUSE).... List it/Love it!"
17. David and Hillary sneer at each other and the loser buys the martinis (and they always finish at a bar...)

If you can pinpoint not only the steps in a formula, but also the emotions and reactions of the people involved, then why watch it? The answer is: only to find out what they choose! This was the focus of the show in the beginning, but now it's about creating as much drama as they possibly can.

For the first season, I would have rated this show a lack-luster Bright, because it did need a little kick, but it was an innovative, creative idea with entertainment potential.
Now, I think I'll demote it to Brave verging on Bold. The show had a unique concept, but now it is forced and contrived. Sure, it's making money, but pretty soon its audience is just going to label it 'fake.'

Let's get back to the premise and leave the drama to the hoarders and pregnant teens of this world!

Love It or List It: Brave *

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