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Stereotypes on HGTV

Now that I’m in my 20s, my parents have abandoned the “no TV during dinner” rule. My mom and I love HGTV ““ the kind of voyeurism that’s perfect for us ““ and usually watch House Hunters or Property Virgins. The show sometimes shows single men and women, but mostly heterosexual couples are the hunters. Lately, the male and female stereotypes have become so obvious I’m wondering whether they are manipulated by producers.

In no specific order, here are the most egregious examples:

1. Upon entering the master bedroom, the female (I’ve seen gay couples maybe three times on these shows) must exclaim over the size of the closet. She must also either: say the closet is only big enough for her shoes, or say her husband will not having enough room for his clothes.

2. Upon entering the master bathroom, she must either: become gleeful at the prospect of two sinks, or complain the one sink is not enough space. Counter space is also very important to the average female House Hunter.

3. Upon entering the kitchen, one or both parties must stress the importance of having stainless steel appliances without explaining why they are necessary. Granite counter tops are also very important, to the point of the couple tapping the counter and asking the realtor if the counter is “real” granite. The female must also extol the benefits of an open floor plan as it will allow her to cook while watching her children.

4. The male must be seeking a male-only space called a (shudder) “man cave.” He must also mention where a grill will be placed in any kind of outdoor space.

Buying a house is a momentous occasion for a couple. Part of that “American Dream” I keep hearing about. It’s just unfortunate women on the show keep clinging to stereotypes.

19 replies on “Stereotypes on HGTV”

We have stainless steel appliances because we needed to buy appliances, I liked them, and there was only a negligible cost difference between white and stainless. We got the cheapest fridge we could but splurged on an amazing, five-burner convection oven with cast-iron, continuous burners that I could kiss, I love so much. I’m an avid baker, and after living in several places with old, creaky, falling apart ovens, I figured to hell with it, I’d get something I actually wanted.

That said, we needed to buy appliances because the house didn’t come with them (and our apartments had, so we weren’t moving our own stuff in). Nor did any of the two dozen houses we looked at, for that matter. Do houses really actually come with appliances? That seems so strange. I mean, unless they’re the kind that are built into the cabinet or countertop or something, I can’t even imagine that scenario being common.

I’ve been one of those devoted house hunter show watchers for a couple of years now, and I’ve noticed a tremendous uptick in the number of gay and lesbian couples featured on House Hunters and Property Virgins. I can think of a dozen episodes off the top of my head, including a gay couple who looked at some really drool worthy condos in Portland. I know in the grand scheme of things, a couple of dozen is a drop in the bucket, but 10 years ago, you would never have seen a gay couple doing something as ‘normalized’ as buying a house together on television.

I’ll be honest, Mr. Mona and I have been looking for houses and one of the things on the list is a finished basement that he can make into a ‘man cave’ (for lack of a better word). But do you know what else is on the list? A huge ass room (preferably an attic) which I can make into an office/library/sewing/tv watching room just for moi.
And big closets, they’re also on the list. :)

It is my goal to get on one of the HGTV home buying shows and constantly talk about how I MUST have a “lady cave”.

What REALLY gets me is when kitchens look JUST FINE with newer, functional appliances, counter tops that don’t look like they’re harboring a zillion diseases, and flooring that’s perfectly nice and people are all like, this WHOLE kitchen will need to be redone!

Maybe it’s just how my momma raised me but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

I noticed the same things when I watch House Hunters. What irritates me the most is when someone says they want an older home with character, and then complain when the older home doesn’t burst at the seams with the aforementioned granite countertops, dual sinks, and ample closet space.

House-hunting was awful. Not to mention we live in one of the highest foreclosed states in the nation, it took a lot of sifting and by the end of it I wished I had only had to choose from 3 houses. I have no interest in appliances, countertops, etc, I just wanted a porch to have a glass of wine on.

The one stereotype you mentioned that I really don’t understand is the “two sinks” thing. I’ve never had two sinks, and it’s never been a problem. It’s not like we’re ever getting ready in the bathroom at exactly the same time anyway (and I share an apartment with two other people, one of them female). It just seems like such a ridiculous thing to “make or break” a house!

Sadly, at least in my case, I don’t know how much it’s producer manipulation. I think it takes a special person to come out of the home buying experience unchanged and unscathed.

As a recent(ish) married hetero homebuyer who isn’t typically a walking stereotype I was bothered and more than a little ashamed when house-hunting made me into Mrs. Susy Whitebread.

A big chunk of this behavior can be attributed to the realtor who expected such things out of me and seemed bound and determined to get me to squeal and shriek over the dumbest shit. Yes, those are pendant lights. No, they are not the most adorable things, asshole.

(Tangent: Little known fact, you CAN and SHOULD fire your real estate agent. I did not. And regret it. Do not be like me. They are making a crap-ton of money from your home purchase. Expect the world of them. Or at least expect respect.)

The other part is that there is SO much riding on a house purchase and so many details and options to consider. And if you’re like me, you’re so value-driven that you starting thinking about resale before you’ve even purchased. Things like “I don’t give a shit about the soaking tub in the master bath, but the next owner probably would. So plus one for this house.”

And you starting thinking about value for your dollar. “These two houses are nearly identical, but this one has a walk-in pantry, dual master closets and ginormous bedrooms. I don’t have that much stuff to store, nor do I need to house that many people, but more is always a better value, right?”

And then, through the encouragement of the realtor and the pressure to get the best deal you can, you end up with a huge suburban home for 2 people and 2 tiny dogs and no children, ever. And when people come over and ask for a house tour you start nattering on and on just like the walking sterotype women on HGTV about closets and granite and loft space and on and on, just to make yourself feel like you didn’t just spend a boatload of money on a house that doesn’t actually fit your family. That you bought because it seemed like the right, best thing to do. Even though you haven’t even furnished the loft or 50% of the house, you only use one of the closets and you hate baths.

Not that I know anything about that. At all. But if I did, I’d tell you that I would have sex with the walk-in pantry if I could.

Oh god, nothing makes me want to tear off my ears more than “man cave”.

I have to admit, HH is my hate-watch, but I find HH International far more egregious–what with their referring to all American renters as “ex-pats” (instead of immigrants), and the fact that 99% of these so-called ex-pats end up living in upscale neighborhoods/resorts that specifically cater to ex-pats. I’ve seen maybe two families that moved to a “local” neighborhood and were excited to partake in the local culture. TWO. Also, I could do without some of the bourgeois who refer to the locals as “natives” (I’ve seen this frequently in caribbean destinations).

I should seriously stop watching these shows. Ahem.

My coworker LOVES the International show. He tells me stories about it all the time. I never get word-by-word plays but from what he’s told me so far, it seems pretty “production heavy.” Like, the producers are running the show more so than the actual family.

He just yesterday told me about an episode in India that features a house with a family living on the property that “came with” the house – a maid and gardener. It felt very Soylent Green to me (not the actual Soylent Green but the apartment featured in it – with the built in “Wife.”). I shuttered a bit when he told the story…

Actually it isn’t uncommon in India. Most home-owning Indian are loathe to sell homes, preferring to hold on to the old apartment in order to give it to a child as a post-wedding first home. And because of renter protections many would rather board up a home than rent it to an Indian. Foreigners, however, are excellent, because they almost always leave eventually. One mechanism for keeping a house off the market while the kids grow up is to install servants, who work for very low wages + housing. Then when a foreigner comes in the attending servants are sort of a bonus: “you see this house already comes with a cook and a driver? You do not need to hire your own!” And it is expected that foreigners will hire help. They are wealthy, yes? And need not do such things as sweeping and cooking.

(but economically speaking, we DO make and have more than your typical Indian char-woman and foreigners hiring temporary help is an almost expected monetary input into the local economy).

When I was looking at houses, I basically covered all these points (both the male and female perspectives). But I don’t use the term Man Cave because it just sounds stupid and “Office” sounds so much more “Grown up” and filled with leather bound books on shelves made of rich mahogany.

But because of all the shit people are having about granite in their homes, I became very counter (he) culture and now find granite to be horrible. Sure, it’s a great stone that is basically indestructible but does it need to cover every damn surface? (I start thinking of mining and over-mining and diamonds and blood diamonds when I dwell on all the granite I see in homes.) I looked for kitchens with laminate counters and white fridges. :) Because when I cook, I want to feel like the women in the poofy skirts and frilly aprons that can heft a 20 lb turkey out of the oven with a smile on their face. That’s the real deal. (For me at least, my opinions are strange and precise)

But yeah, love all the closet space in my home and the covered patio for the grill. There’s also a shed for the lawn mower! OMG.

I (although I am an impoverished grad student- my parents are currently doing a kitchen reno on their house) also don’t see the point of granite.Do people not get that if you drop a dish on a granite countertop it WILL 99.9% of the time break/chip? I dunno- my Mom is anti-granite, therefore I am too. Save the dishes!

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