March 6, 2007

The Problem with HGTV

We're generally fans of HGTV (the Home and Garden Television Network for those of you who do not have cable or are visiting this blog from outside the U.S.), but that isn't to say that there aren't some major problems with the network.
  • It's called "Home and Garden" but where is the "Garden"? Maybe the network has some garden-related shows, but I've never seen one. Residential real estate has been booming on a national scale for the past 5+ years, so I'm not surprised that the focus is currently on "Home". Maybe when the "housing bubble" pops or deflates, we'll start to see a whole lot more gardening shows.
  • Is it me or does pretty much every show on HGTV (especially House Hunters, Designed to Sell and What You Get For the Money) brim with unbridled optimism and good cheer about the housing market? If you watch HGTV, it's almost like the good times are still rolling (and will keep rolling) in the residential real estate market across the entire country. I can think of two reasons for this: (1) the housing market in the U.S. boomed for so long creating widespread popular interest in real estate, and HGTV capitalized on that interest and created shows to meet its audience. Now that the housing market has cooled significantly in many regions of the country, many of the shows on HGTV seem outdated, probably because of the time it takes to produce television shows and the lag in time from filming to broadcast and (2) it's a whole lot easier to sell advertising to the Home Depots of the world when you present a cheery disposition of the housing market, as opposed to "the sky is falling" stop-investing-in-real-estate atmosphere that has gripped many a housing market.
  • All that being said, I did stumble across a show on HGTV called "Buy Me" which appears to be produced by HGTV's Canadian operations, and it's a show that I highly recommend to all of you. Normally, I wouldn't recommend that you watch a TV show as generally TV, in my opinion, can really dull the brain. However, I make an exception for "Buy Me" because it does a great job of portraying the realities AND stresses of the home selling and home buying process. Maybe it's the Canadian sense of pragmatism and earnestness, as opposed to the American unblinding optimism, that connects with me, but I think anyone who has gone through or is thinking about buying or selling a home will really relate to the individuals in the Buy Me show. First of all, the show is realistic - along with showing the champagne celebrations when deals are closed, it shows the warts of the process, including the stress and psychology of negotiations between buyer and seller. Second, unlike the U.S. HGTV shows, gasp, deals actually fall through on Buy Me, and some shows end with unhappy buyers, sellers and real estate agents. Lastly, even when deals are consummated on the show, sometimes the camera catches seller's or buyer's remorse. For all these reasons, Buy Me is a fantastic program that really strives to depict the reality of buying and selling homes, both the good and the bad.

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