HGTV Star: Worthwhile Video Wallpaper?

Show: HGTV Star

Premiered: Summer 2006

Why Was It Made? Trading Spaces was showing signs of running out of gas, but America's love affair with interior design -- watching it, judging it, thinking anyone could do it with a bottomless checkbook and all day to think about candlestick "stories" -- showed no signs of burning out. And Vern Yip needs a place to go, or he'll end up palling around with that bad element in the loading bay at that IKEA on the Jersey Turnpike, playing three-card monte and huffing Expedit dowels.

Why Did I Stop Watching? I never started watching HGTV [Design] Star, because I got so incredibly frustrated with Bravo's version, Top Design, that I swore off every OTHER competitive-interiors show forever. Eventually my bitterness waned, but then I bought a house, and it's a money pit, and I wanted to get into HGTV Star again but I already spent so much time thinking about cabinets I couldn't afford, it felt like a busman's holiday.

Why Give It Another Shot? I have more of a vested DIY-hacks interest in the genre now. I also cherish a vain hope that ingesting enough design editorial will improve my spatial functioning.

What Aspects Of The Latest Episode Would Seem To Invite Further Viewing? The prep portion of the challenge is catalog porn in TV form: huge warehouses full of every possible bedstead, swag of fabric, rolling coffee table, medicine bottle, and uncomfortable couture pillow. The first challenge itself is one of those toothless "let's just identify the chaff here" tasks that asks the designers to show off their signature style, but it does force the designers to hone their branding pitches, and since the idea is to become an HGTV host, that's important. And the judges can articulate why a given set-up works or doesn't; I usually just do whatever Better Homes says and can't explain why it looks good. What a delight, as well, that the Brooklyn contestant isn't seventeen pounds of small-batch annoying in a five-pound bag. I dig Brooks's style and I wanted all his wall art.

What Aspects Of The Latest Episode Discourage Further Viewing? Yet another reality contestant named "Tylor" -- where do they all come from? Top Chef and Best Ink both had one; no doubt I've overlooked another four or five somewhere. …I'm mostly kidding about that, but I do think the judges sent home the wrong contestant in the first week. Yeah, Tobin's room shared a lot of elements with a Delia's catalog, but there's a market for that, and Cristina's vignette turned out straight shitty. I'll also need them to start calling out the various unbelievably tired pieces of flair the designers add automatically. No more giant ceramic Buddha heads; no more Madeleine L'Engle vase-and-branches installations; no more ceramic stools. Don't know the drill is in reverse gear? Automatic ejection.

Final Verdict: I'll stay with it for at least a couple more episodes, but if it turns into another Top Design thing where they pretend you can floor an entire kitchen in 45 minutes and doorknobs always fit, I'm out.

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