I'd normally be writing a statistics post today, but given that this is our special reality TV week it seems right to do a very special opinion post instead. I'm talking about "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" today, a show which wrapped its successful 9 year run in January of 2012. Specifically I'm talking about the implications of this show's premise, popularity and the criticism it has received as a reflection of our cultural views on real estate. We can learn some valuable things from this show about the American view of poverty, and how it's interpreted through the lens of mass media. Equally valuable is the public's reaction and what it tells us about our cultural view of profit via real estate.
Houses vs Noses vs Time
Lest their be any doubt at the outset as to where I stand on this show - EM: HE was, much like House Hunters and World's Worst Tenants, created to sell appliances and home building supplies via mass spectacle. In this case it's making a spectacle of the poor and unfortunate souls who were deemed pitiful enough to merit new houses. Back in ancient Rome those poor souls would have been fed to the lions or bears for spectacle. Now we tear down their houses and replace them with opulent mansions filled with Sears appliances and run up their utility bills into the five-figures in the process.
Don't get me wrong - I'm all for helping out the less fortunate. EM:HE, though, was a frosting of generosity plastered thickly onto a cake of "let's sell lots of furniture." (more…)