United by HGTV?


We often talk about the social divisions within America, but I do know one place where we all seem to come together...house renovation!

HGTV is the primary vehicle for the house renovation show, but there's also Discovery Home, TLC, DIY, BBC America, the Bravo Top Designer reality show, that ABC show I've never actually watched and sometimes a dream kitchen special from Food TV. There are several things that make this genre a rich, but semi-loopy vision of a diverse utopia.

For one thing, I've seen all types of house owners featured on these shows - Anglos, Latinos, Asian Americans, African Americans, Afro-Caribbean Americans, mixed race couples and same sex couples. If they have a decorating dream, they can be the star of their own home decor episode.

Locations are primarily in the United States, but more and more you do see shows set outside the United States. Apparently everyone in the Western World over a certain income level is united in a desire for authentic detailing, punchy wall colors and brand-new kitchen appliances. I've also learned much more about the British housing market. I didn't realize that the 99-year lease was applied to anything other than the colony of Hong Kong.

The other interesting thing is how many diverse people are latching onto a "family-friendly" genre which has practically no sex, no violence and very little politics. Who knew this was even possible? My mother and aunt listen to politically opposite talk radio channels, but both are avid watchers of home decor TV. If you run out of weather conversation, a safe bet is that a reference to house renovation or house buying will keep the conversation moving (especially once you've gotten out of college).

What's the drawback? Well there is the fact that not everyone lives with their dream kitchen and may not get one anytime soon. It is a little odd to see rich expatriate Americans searching for their dream resort homes in Central America.

On the other hand, where else can you see people of any background molding their dream homes - even their microscopic rental apartments?

Somehow though HGTV makes the American dream a little more approachable. After all, all you really need to make your housing dreams come true is sweat, good flea market finds and a fresh can paint.