Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Reality TV May Suck, But REAL Reality Is Worse!

I have never been shy about admitting to a certain guilty fondness for Reality TV... I enjoy many shows in the genre, including most of the biggies... Survivor, Race, Idol, Dancing, etc. But there is one major reality show that I gave up on long ago - "Extreme Makeover Home Edition".

My biggest issue with the program has always been that the producers build homes for disadvantaged families that are WAY out of character with the neighborhoods that the homes are built in.... You'll see mile after mile of tract homes, followed by a McMansion suddenly squeezed into a corner lot. In addition, the residents of the home are stuck with over-designed rooms that they will never be able to afford the upkeep on, let alone be able to redecorate if and when they choose. Show me an eight year-old boy whose bed is a pirate ship who will still be wanting to sleep with Jack Sparrow when he's 12!
One other issue - the families that receive these homes are usually well-intentioned people who, for one reason or another, are down on their luck. The hidden dirty little secret is that many of these people became downtrodden by their own hands... so it should come as no surprise when they are handed a free house - and still manage to screw things up. That's exactly what happened in Georgia this week...

Read on:
More than 1,800 people showed up to help ABC's "Extreme Makeover" team demolish a family's decrepit home and replace it with a sparkling, four-bedroom mini-mansion in 2005.

Three years later, the reality TV show's most ambitious project at the time has become the latest victim of the foreclosure crisis.

After the Harper family used the two-story home as collateral for a $450,000 loan, it's set to go to auction on the steps of the Clayton County Courthouse Aug. 5. The couple did not return phone calls Monday, but told WSB-TV they received the loan for a construction business that failed.

The house was built in January 2005, after Atlanta-based Beazer Homes USA and ABC's "Extreme Makeover" demolished their old home and its faulty septic system. Within six days, construction crews and hoards of volunteers had completed work on the largest home that the television program had yet built.

The finished product was a four-bedroom house with decorative rock walls and a three-car garage that towered over ranch and split-level homes in their Clayton County neighborhood. The home's door opened into a lobby that featured four fireplaces, a solarium, a music room and a plush new office.

Materials and labor were donated for the home, which would have cost about $450,000 to build. Beazer Homes' employees and company partners also raised $250,000 in contributions for the family, including scholarships for the couple's three children and a home maintenance fund.

ABC said in a statement that it advises each family to consult a financial planner after they get their new home. "Ultimately, financial matters are personal, and we work to respect the privacy of the families," the network said.

Some of the volunteers who helped build the home were less than thrilled about the family's financial decisions.

"It's aggravating. It just makes you mad. You do that much work, and they just squander it," Lake City Mayor Willie Oswalt, who helped vault a massive beam into place in the Harper's living room, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

So let me get this straight... The family gets a free house, 250 grand for their kids' college, and a free trip to Disneyland, while their neighbors build them a new mini-mansion... and then they lose the house?

Screw the foreclosure auction... Where are the tar and feathers???

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