So I have enjoyed a couple of British interior design competition shows (one on Netflix, the other now on the Inside/Outside channel). But there have not been any new seasons for many years now, and I have actually watched them each like three times. I went searching for something similar, and landed on something called “HGTV Design Star” on Discovery+. Since I have recently re-activated D+ for a month or so for something else I thought I would check it out.
The first 4 seasons were kind of corny and sentimental, and nothing like the British shows which kind of explained a lot about design principles and fashions. I am now halfway through season 5 though and it becomes substantially worse. The judges who previously had been professional but human and often cried at whatever sentimental storyline was being pushed in the episode were suddenly transformed into real Dickish hardasses, and the contestants were mostly narcissistic, unlikable assholes. The challenges were less about making over ugly living rooms or kitchens and more about some abstract and obtuse theme that had little or no connection to what redesigning space.
And then suddenly Donald Trump Jr shows up and is used as a standard of quality and luxury. I know this season dates from around 2010 or so, so perhaps Junior had not yet become identified as the national mediocrity joke that he later became, but even before his father went into politics the Trump name and brand was a joke and a parody of style and quality, at least among everyone I knew or interacted with. How does a show about design take them seriously? Did Trump somehow buy the series or the cable channel that year (the whole thing smells like him)? Will the next episode be on how to install gold toilets in your bathroom?
I am kind of a completist, and once I invest a critical mass of time into a series I like to finish it off, even if it’s not very good (my wife will walk out of a film in a theater half way through, while I think I have only done that once in my life). But if the rest of this show is going to be like season 5 I will have to bail. What happened to this series that it suddenly went from mediocre to self-parodying? And why can’t they be more like the British shows, that were at least to some degree about actual design problems and solutions?