Slog - The Stranger's Blog

Line Out

The Music Blog

« What Will Happen to the House? | Extremely Depressing Makeover »

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition’s Creepy Wish List

Posted by on March 29 at 9:39 AM

As anyone who’s seen an episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition can tell you, the show—hosted by charmless he-harpie Ty Pennington—is a no-holds-barred heartwarmer, with Pennington & Co descending upon the homes of down-on-their-luck families to deliver the “extreme makeover” promised by the title.

It’s all terribly sweet, and I confess to misting up a little the couple times I’ve seen it. (Let’s see you remain unmoved when a recently widowed father of eight is given a brand new home with bedrooms for each of the kids, a basketball court in the basement, and a shrine to the dead-from-six-types-of-cancer mother over the fireplace.)

But thanks to a casting agent’s e-mail sent by an ABC executive to network affiliates and published by The Smoking Gun, audiences have the opportunity to see the strings behind the heartwarming show, and it ain’t pretty. According to TSG, the March 10 correspondence was sent to network affiliates in the Southeast, who were asked to help scout prospective families for the series.

Included in the e-mail are suggestions for the kind of family tragedies and illnesses that best guarantee high ratings. Among the wishlist items are families that have suffered an in-home hate crime, families that have lost a child to drunk driving, parents with skin cancer, and two absolute doozies: a child suffering from Progeria, the rare condition that causes rapid aging in a child (“aka ‘little old man disease,’” the casting agent explains) and a child afflicted with a congenital inability to feel pain with anhidrosis. (“There are 17 known cases in US,” writes the casting agent. “Let me know if one is in your town!”)

Granted, I’m one of those viewers who is physically incapable of changing the channel whenever there’s a kid with either Progeria or a congential inability to feel pain on the screen. Still, it’s damn creepy to see it all in writing.

Full story (including the original e-mail) here.

(Updated at 10:32, for corrections mentioned in comments thread.)

CommentsRSS icon

Actually, anhidrosis isn't the "congenital inability to feel pain" -- it's simply a failure of the sweat glands (inability to sweat). They were after people with CIPA -- the combination of those two things (congenital insensitivity to pain WITH anhidrosis).

Incidentally, my reaction to this STAGGERING revelation about the show is a big fat "duh!"

"He-Harpie" made me laugh so hard that orange juice came out of my nose. It really hurt. Expect a letter from my laywer within the next two weeks.

I'm with you Jolie. I mean, how did people think they found all these down trodden families with 8 kids? Regardless of how they find them, the cancer ridden children still get new homes.

Jolie: I didn't call the email either "a revelation" or "staggering," just creepy. But you're right, I effed up on characterizing the affliction; I'll fix it.

Sandy: Agreed. The end result is
beneficial, and in many ways, this email calling for various diseased folk is no more or less offensive than any other audition notice; all of 'em traffic in superficialities and stereotypes. But still, creepy to see it in writing, with occasional exclamation points...

This isn't the least bit surprising. That used to be a great show, and I used to look forward to the inevitible mist-up at the end, but the phoney, gooey, transparent behavior of the cast makes me want to barf.

It's always nice to watch someone get something they deserve, but the exploitative and manipulative nature of the show (think Steel Magnolias multiplied by a hundred and covered in a thick, sad frosting) makes my skin crawl.

I'm with Eli. "Charmless he-harpy" is one of the best phrases of the century. As one who witnessed the EXTREME MAKEOVER of the Los Angeles Free Clinic and got to witness first-hand C.H.H. Pennington dirvirshly whirling around set, it is a strikingly accurate description.

That said, I still would have jumped his bones back on "Trading Spaces"

I also love in the email how they try to soften their sick pandering by calling the kids "amazing." Wait, actually they only call the kid with MS and the Mom/Dad with melanoma "amazing." WTF?

David, I wasn't criticizing YOU, dude -- you were just pointing us to where you saw the original info about it. My comment was intended for whoever at the Smoking Gun thought that was shocking enough to be worthy of attention!

I only saw one episode of that show and found it pretty disgusting, personally. The amount of money they waste on a SINGLE family just blows my mind.

I only saw one episode of that show and found it pretty disgusting, personally. The amount of money they waste on a SINGLE family just blows my mind.

True. What's interesting is that even with the money they throw at each week's family, I imagine that the show is still cheaper to produce than a scripted-and-acted program.

Maybe Ty Pennington envisions himself as some sort of TV-land Robin Hood, taking money from TV's rich actors and writers and giving it to poor people with crappy houses and Nielsen-pumping afflictions...

They're really taking money from the advertisers, keeping most of it for themselves, and using the rest to build the house. You gotta love capitalism.

Hah, good point, David. The only problem with your analogy to Robin Hood is that picturing Ty Pennington in Errol Flynn's green tights is making me queasy. ;)

There's a kid up in Darrington with progeria: Seth Cook. I'd like to see them do something up our way instead of down in the Red States.

Think you'll ever see a family with gay parents on there?

In the right mood - I like the show.

The studied cynics at the Stranger would of course, find it silly, low class and artless.

I love it when families get a prize worth a half a million. I think they are really happy.

This program is cheap to produce. All those brands pay them - remember when the people at that shitty sitcom, Friends, were getting a million per person per episode.

Prime time TV is big money.

As reality TV goes, I like it better than eating slime. Howevr, I have always yearned for grilled stallion testicles.
Or dog penis being eaten by university coeds.

TV is setting new standards.

Back to Home Makeover - there is not a kid in America that is not green with envy over the bedrooms. Wow.

Comments Closed

In order to combat spam, we are no longer accepting comments on this post (or any post more than 45 days old).