Escapist

Looking for Escapist TV? Try Home Design Shows

A few minutes into an episode of “Dream Home Makeover,” a home improvement series premiering on Netflix on Oct. 16, an anxious homeowner frets about a minor flaw in the family-room fireplace, an asymmetry that the wife describes as “pretty dramatic.”

If you’ve watched enough home improvement television, you know this scene is meant to cue the eye rolls. But Shea McGee, the show’s perky co-star and the creative force behind the Salt Lake City design firm Studio McGee, cheerfully downplays the issue, promising the couple that the half-inch error will fade into the background once their grand 7,900-square-foot home is complete.

Her down-to-earth approach soothes her clients’ nerves, but also threads a needle for Netflix, which has decided that the salve homebound Americans need right now is an escapist lineup of shows about how to make the homes we can’t escape look prettier. In recent months, the network has rolled out a handful of new home improvement shows to a viewership that is looking for ways to spruce up their spaces, but also ambivalent about celebrating other people’s good fortune.

Over the summer, Netflix aired “Million Dollar Beach House,” a series that followed a team of high-end real estate brokers in the Hamptons as they tried to sell mansions to millionaires. But what was intended to be an East Coast alternative to “Selling Sunset,” the popular, brash series about Los Angeles brokers, was a flop. The show lacked the Botox and catty drama that made “Selling Sunset” a delicious hate watch. Instead, the show was skewered on social media by viewers who were outraged that the only Black broker on the show endured a series of racist microaggressions at a moment when Americans were laser focused on racial justice. Netflix has not announced a second season for the show.

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