Renovate My Family 9-6 Recap: Quick Fixes With A Side Of Triplets
The other day as I was driving along on the 101, I noticed a man on a motorcycle and I was struck by this thought: no matter how hot your Harley is, no matter how much black leather you wear, no matter how many tattoos you display or how thick your Grizzly Adams beard is, every ounce of tough you had went out the window the minute you strapped on that flowered fanny pack. It’s the details, really, that give you your credibility. Something to ponder as we enter the happy world of seven day solutions that is Renovate My Family.
Tonight our lucky guinea pigs are the Rosier family of Lemont, Illinois. (At least, that’s where I think they’re from. I did a google search on all the “L” cities in Illinois, and Lemont sounded the closest to what I think they were saying. Details. I search because I care.) How, you wonder, did the fortunate Rosiers get this chance? Did they move their laundry facilities onto the roof? No. And that’s where the humor stops (yes, there was supposed to be humor previously).
The Rosier family has some serious problems that I cannot take lightly. A year and a half ago, Steven Rosier, the only son, was in a snowboarding accident that left him in a wheel chair with a fifty-fifty chance of ever walking again. Not only is the house completely unsuited to his needs—he has to drag himself up the staircase to his room, his wheelchair can’t fit through the bathroom door and he is forced to crawl—but his family, active, outdoorsy people, are also unable to relate to him in his present condition. His father, Gary, has an especially difficult time with what used to be a very close relationship; he’s become a drill sergeant intent on fixing his son with “motivational” orders.
I can’t make light of the Rosier’s plight, but you know who can—that’s right, Jay McGraw, son of world renowned relationship expert, Dr. Phil. Not Jay McGraw, world renowned relationship expert. Jay McGraw, son of. Minor detail. Yes, the Rosier’s problems are so insubstantial to Jay, son of, that he’s confident he can fix them in just seven days. Someone is has a serious complex. I’m surprised he doesn’t greet young Steven with the words, “Arise, my son, and walk.” Maybe he’s saving that for the big reveal.
Pancakes and Panic
Like last week with the Bigginses, the RMF team spent a day with the Rosier family and was able to ascertain that, yes, this family has a few issues. Besides Dad Gary and Son Steven, we also meet Mom Sharon and Daughters April and Dominique. They all talk of how devastating the last year has been for their family, and how much they want improvements to their lives, especially for Steven’s sake.
So the Rosiers are an obvious shoe in. Again there is an elaborate surprise announcement scene, including hidden camera men in “plant suits,” this time at the family’s favorite pancake place. I assume they were probably hungry and looking for some breakfast, but instead they get Jay McGraw yelling “Rosier family, you’ve been chosen!” and the polite applause of people who already have their pancakes.
The Rosier women react with tears, cheers and hugs, while the men are more stoic. Jay immediately turns their joy to alarm as he announces that they have two hours to pack everything they want from their home before it is demolished.
Enchanted to meet you—now get the hell out of my way.
The stress of the time limit has Gary and Sharon bickering, while the girls play tug-of-war with each other’s clothes. The Design Team arrives and make a nuisance of themselves, clogging hallways and insisting on introductions, though the Rosiers don’t care about anything besides saving a few of their things.
Scott McCray, the dashing foreman we all remember vividly, takes an overwhelmed Steven aside to talk about opening his room up to give him more mobility. The curvaceous blonde “construction team” (you’ll notice that I didn’t put foreman in quotation marks) now has a last name: they are the Dahm triplets (if you’re wondering how to pronounce that, I believe the “a” sound is similar to the “u” sound in “rum” or “thumb”). The Dahm triplets spend time with April and Dominique first, empathizing over the pain of shared bedrooms. Kahi and Sharon take a moment to discuss what Sharon is hoping for; Sharon’s wild eyes, flashing to the half-full closet again and again, seem to indicate that all she is hoping for is for Kahi to shut up and let her get back to work. Jude is excited to get to work on the makeovers. He sizes up Gary’s almost-mullet and cut-off jeans with gleeful eyes. Jude discards clothes and outdated flat-irons with abandon, only later pausing to wonder if he’ll be allowed to replace them.
Gary takes Scott on a tour of his garage/shop, warning him, “Don’t mess it up.” Someone didn’t explain the RMF concept to Gary very thoroughly. The Dahm triplets have a creepy, jailbait moment with Steven—I’m assuming the romantic harp music in the background is supposed to suggest that Steven finds the crew attractive. I think his expression less interested and more wary (i.e. “they’re going to build my house?!”).
Thirty or so movers suddenly invade the house, and the pressure is on. Jay gives the one minute warning, and the family frantically tries to finish packing.
Pansies Don’t Bond Over Chainsaws
Outside the house, the Rosiers are confronted by the demolition crew, which is configured quite differently from last week at the Bigginses. Only one big claw-thingy this week, so I’m betting there will be no “oops, the whole house has to be destroyed so all your sweating was in vain but you needed the exercise anyway” announcements.
The family is dazed and a little traumatized, but Jay gives them sledgehammers and cheerfully shouts one of his wannabe catch phrases, “Let’s bring this house down!” A cute little baby claw (aww!) goes to work on the outside while the Design Team, the Rosiers, and fifty actually construction professionals start on the interior. The Rosiers seem to enjoy destroying their family home. Dom has a future in demolition if she wants it (a real future, not a fake, TV eye candy, posing in playboy kind of future). Steven uses a crowbar to take out the doorframe on his bathroom. He smiles when he’s able to get through the door without crawling for the first time in eighteen months.
Jude, Kahi and Sharon work on the kitchen. Jude declares that “just because I’m doing hair doesn’t mean I’m a pansy man,” and he kicks through a wall without mussing a strand of his carefully tousled mane. Gary and Scott take on the emotional job of demolishing the ramp to the backdoor, which Gary built when Steven came home after his accident. Steve takes his ceremonial last ride down the ramp, and then asks to take part in the job. His father helps him with a chainsaw, and both are teary remembering how long it has been since they’ve worked on a project together.
Jay tells the family they are free to go, and sends the Design Team in to finish up. “See you at the end of the week,” Jay calls to his team. Will Jay really leave the construction to the professionals and stick to hosting? Of course he will.
Fattening for the Slaughter
There is no stretch suburban for the Rosiers—they get an RV. Budget issues or subtle characterizations? Inside the RV, the parents reassure their homeless children. Gary thinks sadly of all the work he put into the house.
Jay takes the Rosiers to Pine Ridge Resort. His plan is that the beautiful forest surroundings and cabin lodgings will remind the family of their love of the outdoors and bring back memories of the good times. All the better to force painful confrontations, my dear.
At first, the Rosiers seem to truly enjoy themselves as they sit on the cabin’s porch and laugh at their day. They all talk about how nice if feels to be together and have fun again. Older daughter April says it’s been a year and a half since they’ve laughed like this. Gary ruins it all by proposing a hike in the morning. “Except for me,” Steven points out, and Gary turns on him immediately, demanding how much time Steven has spent trying to walk that day.
Privately, Steven tells us that his dad always gets on his case—that it’s Gary’s way to start conversations. Steven just wants his father to talk to him like a normal person. Gary tells us that he can’t stand seeing Steven just sitting there and feeling sorry for himself.
A Floor So Clean You Can Eat Off Of It!
Day two begins at the Rosier’s homesite. One of the triplets enthuses, “Demolition—you can just go at it! Sledgehammer… Bobcat…” she forgets the rest of the list the producer gave her, “The adrenalin just starts flowin’!” A side note: until the Dahm triplets dress in unmatching, construction appropriate clothing, I will not refer to them by individual names. Another side note: I know from reading the discussion thread that I am not the only one who noticed the triplets’ platinum tresses flowing free in the wind. Short personal story: once, in college, I took a course on three dimensional design. Well, I took one day of the course. When the instructor told me I would either have to cut off my waist-length hair or face a sure and gruesome scalping by the bandsaw, I decided to take Portuguese (that didn’t last either—but that’s a story for another day). My point would be, only an idiot or somebody gunning for another spread in Playboy wouldn’t, at the very least, pull that blonde hair up in a ponytail.
Scott respects the work that Gary has put into the house. Not enough to leave any of it intact—but enough to make a table out of the hand-laid hardwood floor.
The house is no more than foundation and frame now. Scott looks over the new addition for Steven, and is very excited that there will be a pool for physical therapy. Now, I may just be ascribing good qualities to the man because he’s cute, but more than anyone else, Scott seems to truly feel for Steven’s situation. You can sense his enthusiasm to be providing a real, lasting upgrade to Steven’s life.
Counseling Won’t Work Without Some Smack Talk
Building a subtle web of foreshadowing, RFM shows us a conversation between Sharon and Gary, where Sharon hopes she will come home to a dishwasher, which she’s never had before. Gary replies, “You get two of ’em…April and Dominique.” That was always one of my father’s favorite jokes, too.
Outdoor fun for the whole family is on the agenda today. Jay thinks Steven has been on the sidelines for too long, and it’s time to even up the playing field (there’s a joke I want to make here, but I just can’t do it. My brothers would laugh, but sensitive people would send me offended emails). He introduces us to…well, I missed the name, but he’s from “Adaptive Adventures.” With him he has hand-cycles and helmets for everyone. The family is excited to try something new.
Steven takes an early lead, but his enjoyment of the activity is somewhat marred by his father, who yells instructions and warnings from behind. Then karma strikes, and Gary is the one to veer off the road into the vegetation. The females lag farther and farther behind, cheating and using their legs to scoot along before giving up completely. Gary’s years of smoking kick in, and he can’t keep up either. “Hey smoker!” Jay jibes as he cruises past (yes, Jay’s along forn the ride, just part of the family now), “Good for another lap? Nyah, nyah, nyah!”
Steven talks about how nice it is to been in the lead again, instead of always behind. He also loved feeling like part of the family, instead of a spectator. Jay takes Steven aside to discuss the deal Gary made with him after the accident. Apparently Gary promised Steven that if he would walk, Gary would quit smoking. Well there’s an evenhanded deal.
Construction continues in the Rosier’s half-basement as separate bedrooms go in for the girls. The triplets profess jealousy, though they don’t seem that keen on individuality at this point in time.
Scott works on the floor-table and Kahi, wandering uselessly, comes by to criticize his work. We already know that Scott is a sensitive man who loves his projects like his own children, so you know how well this goes over with him.
The house is beginning to take shape when trouble strikes in the form of a flaming transformer. A carelessly placed auger has drilled through the power and phone lines, and I don’t need triplets to tell me that this is a bad thing. The worksite is without power while the firemen and the power company electricians do their jobs. We are supposed to feel deep suspense over how this will affect our deadline, but we don’t. We’ve seen to many of this show’s progenitors.
Malpractice Suit Pending
If there’s one thing Jay McGraw knows, it’s the law. He’s passed the bar and everything. So I’m sure he knows that practicing psychiatry without a license is frowned upon… Those silly little details are always holding him back. (Details—get it? I’m tying in the intro.)
Jay confronts Gary on the cabin porch at night. Unless a real psychiatrist is hiding behind Gary’s chair and holding up cue cards, I’m suspect this is semi-illegal. Maybe Jay is merely doing a hilarious impression of his father for Gary’s benefit.
Gary is resistant and aggravated as Jay tells him that he doesn’t know how to show love to his son and that he needs to accept Steven as he is. “A two by four upside the head” would hurt less than Jay’s words according to Gary, and he is crying enough that I believe him.
Aside, Jay tells us that he doesn’t know what it’s like to be a father, or a psychiatrist, but that he does know what a son wants.
Jay points out that giving up smoking is a choice Gary can make. If Gary wants Steven to work harder, he should work harder; if he wants Steven to be healthier, Gary should be healthier.
“I’ll try,” Gary promises, and Stargazer would enjoy the Yoda impression Jay gives us now. “I’m not asking for try! That’s no commitment. That’s chicken. There is no try, only do!”
Once Jay leaves, Gary sits on the porch to have a smoke and think it over. He says that Jay’s words follow him everywhere, and he can’t sleep. In the background, we hear an eerie echo of Jay’s voice: “choice you can make…choice you can make…choice you can make…”
Now that Jay has counseled Steven and Gary separately, it’s time to bring them together. Gary kneels by Steven’s chair, and Jay asks Steven to tell his father what he told Jay. Steven tells Gary how he’ll lie in bed and cry after he talks to his father, how it makes him feel like crap. He asks his father to talk to him normally, as if he wasn’t in a chair, and to say “I love you, because you’re doing the best you can.”
Gary has some trouble expressing emotion, and he does so in the third person. “Daddy loves you. We’re gonna be friends again. Daddy accepts you the way you are.” They hug and cry, and all this sounds pretty good and seems to make sense, but I don’t think you can solve years of pain in a few conversations. Jay is more confident. He thinks Gary and Steven are gonna be all right!
Return of the King
Remember how Jay blithely promised to see his construction team at the end of the week? Yeah, well it’s a good thing he changed his mind and went to check up on those crazy kids! You know what he found? They’re two days behind, and, as we all know, time is critical. Jay does what Jay does best—he motivates them.
First he goes to the triplets to demand answers. Quickly realizing the futility of this approach, he moves on to Scott. “What’s the solution?” Jay—who is not the son of a famous construction worker, as far as I know, so I don’t understand where he thinks he gets his authority from—demands. “Do you have a new plan? Because the old plan isn’t working!”
Scott vehemently defends his guys, hoping to spare them Jay’s motivation, and promises that it will get done.
Jay is frustrated because he has to go back to Chicago and leave the house in someone else’s hands. Without his expert motivational speeches, how will the deadline ever be met on time?! Would that he could be two places at once!
Pushing and Sucking
Jay takes Gary to Dr. Ed Diamond’s clinic to find out how much damage three packs a day has done to his lungs. Gary is frightened of the tests and the results.
Gary’s breathing capacity is measured while he rests, rides a stationary bike, sits in some chamber thingy, etc. Dr. Diamond is weirdly excited by his job, shouting out “Push it out! Suck it in! Yes!” with disturbing enthusiasm.
But Gary, after two days of sessions with
Dr. PhilJay, can only think of his son. The doctor’s pushing makes him identify with Steven’s feelings. “It drove me up the wall,” Gary notes. “You can only do so much… That never sunk in before.” He realizes that he couldn’t accept his son in a wheelchair, and it was “dead wrong” to take that out on Steven.
Next Week…on Renovate My Family
(Did you know this was going to be a cliffhanger? I wasn’t paying enough attention, I guess, because I didn’t. Oh, how will we sleep?!)
Next week…learn the dramatic results of Gary’s medical tests! Revel in the pain as he breaks the news to his family! Watch Jay butt in on Scott’s turf—and (hopefully) see Scott kick that incompetent butt! Feel the fear as Mother Nature threatens the Design Team’s hopes to meet their deadline! Soar with Steven as he recaptures his freedom at the helm of a sailboat! Witness again the family makeover that they’ve already spoiled with these teasers! Wince in pain as backs are waxed! Gasp in awe as the dream home is revealed!
FOX promises us much. They. Will. Deliver.
To reiterate, as apparently I wasn’t clear enough last week: I do not work for the FOX network. I cannot help you get on this show, nor do I have access to any insider information you might be curious about (try www.fox.com - click on “Renovate My Family”). If you want to demolish my recap, you can just go at it here: firstname.lastname@example.org