Totally Frenched Out

From the blogger formerly known as Samdebretagne

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Got some more info about the family today. My mom is in the process of building a new house, and I tagged along with her to decide on cabinetry and other various details. The guy making the cabinets ended up being the one who installed the cabinets for the Extreme Home Makeover house, so we got lots of insider info from him. As a side note - this guy is the best cabinet maker in the area - he does custom, hand-built cabinets and normally he has a 4-5 month wait before you can even see him. Normally he would've been way out of her price range, but because of the economy, his wait time is down to less than a month and my mom was able to negotiate a really good price because he basically has no business (he said it's the worst it's been since he started 30 years ago). So that's cool for her - she'll get custom cabinets instead of the standard Ikea ones she would've gotten otherwise.

Anyway, back to the family - apparently there really wasn't anything "special" about them. The producers were just dead-set on finding a fireman for this episode and they were the only ones in the area with a suitably crappy house. He said it's caused a lot of animosity around town because the family is not at all hard up for money and the dad's schedule is such that he works three days on, fours days off - leaving him with plenty of time for home renovations.

Second criteria was a "hero". This man was one of seven firemen who saved a family from a burning apartment fire (the one who I was right behind during taping). But this guy didn't do anything special - he just worked alongside the others to save them. So the other six are frustrated that he's getting all the credit for it. And that he's getting a $1 million dollar home to boot.

Third thing - they wanted someone who volunteered - which the dad does - but the catch is that he volunteers during his work time. Firemen (at least in this area) are able to leave the fire station and go out and volunteer on paid time, and then just carry a beeper on them in case of a fire. Except this town has 36 salaried fireman and there were only 12 fires in the past year = a whole lot of down time. So a lot of people are upset that he's essentially getting paid to volunteer and not doing it on his own time.

Regarding the filming of the show - he said that they essentially have 4 shows going on at once, which means Ty and the designers aren't really present at all. They are there for the first day to greet the family and for the destruction of the home, and then they fly out for the rest of the week to go film elsewhere, only coming back a half-day before the reveal to get in some filming time and make it look like they were there all week. So with 13 episodes per year, they essentially film four episodes in two weeks, take two weeks off, film four more, take two weeks off and then film the last five.

The cabinet dude also said that they had the most ever volunteers for this episode - over 3,000 applied in less than six minutes. How's that for some Minnesota nice? My mother had tried to apply but was turned away. He also said that they accomplish in one day what it would normally take them an entire month to do - pretty impressive stuff.

A friend of his was on the applications committee, so I also got a little bit more info about the second place family (they have five back-up families in case something doesn't work out with the first one) - they are a strugging family with four children. The oldest child swallowed a nail when he was 3 and subsequently got lead poisoning from it, which led to severe brain damage. The house is not at all adapted to his needs, which makes caring for him very difficult and on top of that, they have medical bills up the wazoo.

So I'm starting to agree with the dissenters - this family, or the one my mom knows, seem much more deserving of a new home than the middle-class Huber family. I don't know - at least for me, it kind of takes away from the shine of the show to see that they have such an agenda out while looking for so-called "needy" families - and that they pass by families in true need in favor of ones that have better catch words like "firefighter" and "hero". What do y'all think?


Blogger L said...

Sadly, it's probably television production as usual. The producers are most likely worried about the balance of the episodes over the whole season and want to show a variety of families. If they only picked the most "deserving", they'd have a lot of episodes about single parent homes, unemployed,with debt/medical bills. And since the normal tv audience didn't get to chat with everyone in town, they don't know who didn't get picked and go with the assumption that every family they see was "very deserving".
It's unfortunate, but it's already been like that for years. Reality tv casts aren't always picked because they're most suited for the task in the show, but because their personalities will clash and create drama that will help the ratings. I read that on Bravo's Project Runway the producers scheduled everything so that no one really had enough sleep (late nights followed by early mornings) and slight sleep deprivation lead to conflict=drama=ratings. It's amazing how the magic of editing hides all that.

August 13, 2009 at 11:22 AM  
Blogger Mignon said...

I knew it was to good to be true. All that crying and B.S. from the host's. What a shame.

August 13, 2009 at 12:50 PM  
Blogger Jennie said...

That's why I don't watch those "reality" shows, because in the end, no matter how altruistic they seem, they are all about business and making money, not helping people. The network wants higher ratings, and that's all that matters.

August 13, 2009 at 1:54 PM  
Blogger Starman said...

Surely, no one really believes the producers do any of this altruistically? Like most (if not all) reality shows, there is a definite script to be followed that guarantees the most viewers and the largest income from commercials.

August 13, 2009 at 6:41 PM  
Blogger wcs said...

Welcome to America. Don't believe everything you see on television.

This has been a public service announcement.

August 14, 2009 at 7:52 AM  
Blogger Frou Frou said...

I saw this show a few times but it shifted so much from design to the "story". And it got so soapy and touchy-feely...too bad.
And this "hero" loving seems to be so... I am wondering how many soldiers got their houses fixed...

August 14, 2009 at 3:22 PM  
Blogger beretboy said...

Thanks for "outing" Extreme Makeover. But I was hardly surprised: "reality television" is a true oxymoron.
I've been a reader since Sam de Bretagne--thank you for coming back.

August 15, 2009 at 7:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've watched extreme makeover home edition when its been on (in NZ)... even shed a few tears!

Thanks for this, it is really interesting to get the 'insider' story. I've always been interested on how they choose the families and whether the celebs really get stuck in and help as much as its portrayed on the show.

August 16, 2009 at 1:12 AM  
Blogger JChevais said...

On the other hand, who are we to judge? There may be some things we don't know.

It's just a shame that whole neighborhoods get torn apart by jealousy. No matter what, a perfect pick couldn't have happened. There would have always been "something" off.

August 24, 2009 at 2:58 PM  

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