When tension builds, I build something. Lowe’s and Home Depot have long been my trusted therapists.

Fences that keep nothing in or out, and a rarely used arbor, tree house and picnic area dot the wooded back lot. It’s just my way of trying to stay on the good side of sanity.

There is something creative and fulfilling about dreaming up a project and seeing it through to completion. HGTV and home improvement shows on other networks have been sources of inspiration and instruction.

But I’ve noticed things are changing. In fact, it seems that everything on TV has become overly dramatic.

The Weather Channel is no longer content to tell me if I’ll need a sweater tomorrow or if my return flight might be delayed. Forecasts get pushed aside for documentaries and even movies now.

CNN Headline News no longer gives me the latest updates in a streamlined 30-minute segment. Instead, personalities like Macon’s own Nancy Grace rant on about an 8-month-old headline night after night after night.

But the great tragedy is that drama (or more accurately, melodrama) has even reached home improvement. I yearn for the early days when Pat and Jodi would calmly show me how to install crown molding or someone might offer good ideas for sprucing up around the mailbox without having an emotional breakdown.

Now home improvement shows seem to need tears, infighting and the ever-mounting fear that the project will not be completed in the 30-minute time frame. P-LEASE! This is home improvement, not “ER.”

Can home projects go awry? I’ve never done one that didn’t take longer, cost more than expected and require some adaptation from my original plan. That’s what wood filler and caulking and next weekend were made for.


But the whole reason I watch this genre of television and tackle home projects is to escape the tensions of life, not to create more drama or watch poorly created melodrama. (Read “Dear Genevieve” and “HGTV Design Star” just for starters.)

Now HGTV does offer helpful, emotionally stable shows like “Curb Appeal.” My only complaint is they follow hours of useless and avoided early morning infomercials and then hit the screen about the time I’m going out to work on a project.

But the worst offense in bringing unnecessary drama to home improvement is TLC’s new and aptly-named show “Unhinged.” It features HGTV alum Summer Baltzer who used to quietly sew curtains and comforters along with the persnickety Charles Burbridge and another cost-cutting designer on “Design on a Dime.”

In this latest show, however, the redhead and her extended family engage in home improvement via interpersonal conflict. They yell, pout, cry, walk out and then eventually complete the intended project just in the nick of time before the credits roll. It’s “The Real World” meets “This Old House,” if you can imagine.

It makes me want to do more projects, but with less television to feed my ideas.

And, admittedly, not everyone can appreciate the mental and physical benefits of home projects, and that’s OK.

Several years ago, after my family had been to lunch one Saturday, I swung by Lowe’s to get a trunk full of soil additives for some landscaping project. As we pulled away my younger daughter asked: “Dad, did you just pay $17 for cow poop?”

“Uh, uh, …yes, and some day when you’re older you’ll understand…”

The problem was I just told her she couldn’t have a milkshake at Fuddrucker’s because they were too expensive. Do you think we could make a reality show about that?

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This