Reality Bites: The Jennie Garth Project

Not really getting a Ripley from "Aliens" vibe, here.
Not really getting a Ripley from "Aliens" vibe, here.

There are a million reality shows on the naked television. We're going to watch them all, one at a time.

Jennie Garth is an actor. She's best known for playing Kelly Taylor in the quintessential '90s TV show Beverly Hills, 90210, and again in 90210, the CW's not-at-all necrophiliac revival. She may be capable of greater range than this, but you wouldn't know if from The Jennie Garth Project, a new HGTV series about Garth's latest grasp for post-Kelly Taylor relevance by latching onto the recent TV remodeling craze.

Will she succeed with only her gumption and spunky personality? Will HGTV hit the "over" on referring to her as a "single mother of three?" Will Garth suffer a life-threatening injury after clumsily handling equipment best left to fully bonded professionals?

Whatever, I was always more of a Melrose Place guy anyway.

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If you were unaware of this show's existence...honestly, I don't know how that's possible. I avoid HGTV like a tasteful, '70s ranch-style plague and even I saw 4,000 commercials for the damn thing. Anyway, if you've been hiding in the tunnels under Rice because of Ebola, Garth has purchased an old-ish home in Studio City to gut and renovate for herself and her three daughters (did we mention she's a single mother of three kids?). Apparently this won't be new territory for her, as she's "renovated several houses before." Whatever that means.

By the time the series reached The Episode I Watched, Le Projet de Garth is moving right along, and now it's time to work on her girls' rooms. Three kids (ages seven, 11 and 17), three bedrooms (the youngest even gets a rock wall). Though I'm not sure why she's wasting a whole room on the 17-year-old, considering she'll be getting her heart broken by Jake Hanson soon enough.

Wait, that was a Beverly Hills, 90210 plot. Damn you, Darren Star!

Garth tells us, "I wanna be completely hands-on in this process." A tricky proposition, considering her skills with the larger power tools are iffy at best. The workers are, as far as we can tell, pretty tolerant of the blond in a hard hat slowing them down appreciably. Maybe HGTV kicked in SAG scale or something. Still, every lingering shot of Garth swinging a sledge or pondering the design of her daughter's bunk bed is accompanied by the usual sped-up footage of the workers doing the actual labor. Garth is little more than a slightly more intrusive client with a camera crew.

Eye protection not in place and no gloves. 2/10 would not hire.
Eye protection not in place and no gloves. 2/10 would not hire.

When she says she wants to climb up on the roof and see the workers removing the old shingles and nails before trying it out herself, Scott the Contractor opines, "None of my clients have ever done that." Probably because none of your clients have signed entertainment waivers with a TV network. You let Joe Average Customer climb up on a roof and he falls off, he'll sue you back into advertising on the side of your van.

The Jennie Garth Project is also missing some of the other pertinent info we usually get from these shows: How much money does she have to spend? Was she working under a deadline (we're told we can see shots of the finished house on, so it can't have been too tight)? Who are her famous neighbors?

Admittedly, I'm a little torn here. Garth is enthusiastic about designing her girls' rooms and doing an independent project, but she also cheated with Dylan on Brenda. Furthermore, she's prone to saying things like, "I want an artistic expression of a tree rather than a 'tree.'" Half the time she reminds me of the time Greg tried to get Dharma to climb down off the table on thatFamily Guy spoof: "Oh, Dharma, you're *such* a free spirit!" California has much to answer for.

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