Who Lives Here?
Reality TV Asks "Can You Judge a Person by Their Nest?"
Premières on W Network Monday April 28, 10 p.m. EST
Reality television never ceases to amaze me. There is no shortage of hours and effort put into creating the NEW trend. The airwaves are loaded with shows that show us underprivileged, undereducated people living their lives, following to the toilet and bed, shows that let racists and homophobes say whatever they want to say, women screeching at each other over a man and even fighting, and vice versa, and random people saying and doing things they would never otherwise do if there weren’t TV cameras involved.
That’s what worried me when I saw the commercials for W’s latest reality show Who Lives Here? I saw a guy sniff someone’s baby diaper hamper and announce he hates babies, and a girl brandishing a whip like she’d edgy and lots of messy rooms. Plenty of inappropriate behaviour and big personalities vying for attention. Yikes. It wasn’t my cup of tea by a long shot.But I wanted to take a look at a preview episode. I found that while I was sort of right, I was also sort of wrong. The promos seemed edited to highlight the show’s worst behaviour, supposedly to entice viewers, to “stage” moments counting on our tendency to stare when we shouldn’t. What is wrong with this picture? What is wrong with us? Why do producers and advertisers think we want to watch ourselves acting out?
Okay so I watched Who Lives Here? A handful of homeowners’ gang together to visit and judge various homes and then try to figure out which of them owns which house. Their judgements are based on quick whip-throughs in which they snoop, open doors, drawers, baby diaper hampers and personal items left out in the open.
The contestants’ personalities start to emerge through this process and we learn one is an alpha-male obnoxious type, another is an arty type, another a nerd, etc. These impressions are built up by judicious editing of what must have been a long shooting schedule. These folks aren’t friends, they are competitors and so there’s that to further colour the mix. We don’t know who-owns-what-house either so it’s a game we can play too.
The players’ strong convictions that they have broken the code and determined the owner of any given home are often dashed. People aren’t what they seem to be. The takeaway from the show is that people cannot be easily judged and categorised through décor and personal style. No biggie. That makes sense, who said they could be?
The series had a strong element of fun and certainly satisfies the inner snoop. The contestants aren’t as rude as they seemed to be on the promos. No one was sent packing. No blood was shed. A few bruised feelings but by reality standards, it was tame.
There is definitely a nagging guilty feeling as we vicariously poke through people’s personal belongings and laugh at mean jokes at others’ expense. Still, the contestant knew what they were getting into and signed a contract.
So how do they find people who will bare it all for TV?
My friends, that’s a whole other show.