Reality Bites: Property Brothers

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

The runaway popularity of home improvement shows in recent years speaks to two realities in America today. First, people appear to be far more interested in renovating existing properties, whether to spruce up a home for resale or justify buying an older house instead of a newer, more expensive one. Second, despite the early success of shows like This Old House and The New Yankee Workshop, simply being an old white guy with a tool belt isn't enough to get a TV show. These days, you gotta have an angle.

DIY's Rehab Addict is hosted by Nicole Curtis, a "self-taught home rehabber and designer" wh also happens to be very attractive. Jeff Lewis, of Bravo's Flipping Out, is a sociopath, and those are always entertaining. And then there's Drew and Jonathan Scott of HGTV's Property Brothers, who are identical twins. That's ... interesting, right?

Drew is the real estate agent (actually, according to the show's web page, they're both real estate agents), so he wears the suit. Jonathan's the contractor, and in order to further distinguish himself (aside from the sledge hammer and boots) also perpetually sports about three days' growth of beard. Unfortunately, this has more of a George Michael effect than the Don Johnson/Tom Hardy look he was probably going for.

Every show has the same premise: two people (a couple, siblings, or roommates) have grown tired of their cramped environs and want to move into a bigger spread with cool amenities. Invariably, these two people don't have enough money, so Dean, sorry, Drew and Jonathan convince them to use part of their budget to buy a "fixer-upper" (this term is literally used in every episode synopsis) and use the remaining funds to fix it up. Drew handles the haggling over the sale, while Jonathan and his team take care of the renovation.

Conflicts arise in the form of unrealistic demands (someone always wants a "second bathroom" or a "work space" or an "abattoir") or structural issues requiring attention. The brothers address these problems while dealing with what are usually the most rational and agreeable reality show participants I've ever seen. Maybe at this point people have finally realized that if something goes south, the network isn't just going to abandon them with a half-finished house. Also, according to a recent article in the Austin-American Statesman, HGTV provides $20-25K in furnishings.

Finally, Bob's abattoir can have that killing floor.

Come to think of it, a show in which there was the real possibility of people being left in the lurch would be a lot better. Call it Under Budget of Underpass: participants have to do all the renovation work without going into the red, or they end up homeless. There's your ratings winner right there.

One part of the show I do like is how -- if one of the buyers is a woman -- it seems like Jonathan always lets her swing the sledge first. Think of it as a way to work out all that pent-up aggression at having spend the last three months listening to your husband drone on and on about his fucking "man cave."

But I'll be honest, the brothers themselves creep me out. Oh, they seem very friendly and gregarious, responding to the buyers' concerns and complaints with barely more than a raised eyebrow. And that's the problem: they never fight, they barely argue, and they appear to genuinely enjoy each other's company, leading me to conclude they're aren't brothers at all, but replicants. It's so clear now: HGTV is merely a front for the Tyrell Corporation, who manufacture their even-tempered androids in a secret subterranean facility housed under a tastefully updated split level outside Los Angeles.

This also explains Hilary and David from Love It or List It, incidentally.

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