9-13 Renovate My Family Recap: Voice Activated Blondes
So how did you bear up under the suspense last week (all three of you who watch this show besides me)? Have you worn a path across your living room rug with your impatient pacing? Have you taped a picture of the Dahm triplets over your dart board? Has Scott McCray visited you nightly in your dreams? No? Just me, huh? Well, I’m glad the suspense is finally over so that we can all get on with our lives. I have a new gray hair at my temple, and I have named it “Rosier.”
Before the show can get to the point, though, of course we need a long montage of footage from last week--just in case we forgot young Steven and his family, but still wanted to watch this week for some reason anyway. Again we meet Dad Gary, Mom Sharon, Son-in-his-wheelchair Steven, and Daughters April and Dominique. Inexplicably, this back story is followed by a lengthy preview of what we are about to watch, rendering the watching of what we are about to watch almost redundant.
Eventually the show gets down to business, and Jay tells us this is about more than a new house, this is about helping the Rosiers confront the real issues that are holding them back in their lives. And I am forced to grumble aloud, “In whose opinion?” at my television, because, really! Where is the team of experts that analyzed this family’s real issues in order to have them be confronted? Is this just “Joe-off-the-street’s” opinion of what ails the Rosiers? Or rather “Jay-off-the-street.” At any rate, I have deep seated qualms about the validity of this show’s efforts, and they are getting stronger as the show progresses. But…at least they get a new house.
I Prefer My Lungs Rare
Gary is back at Dr. Diamond’s office to hear the results of the tests done on his lungs. If you’d forgotten the good doctor, there is a disturbing flashback of his enthusiasm for his work (“Push! Yes! Explode! Push!”). Gary is very nervous; he is fifty years old and he’s been smoking since he was seventeen, so he probably has a reason to be.
Dr. Diamond walks in a plunks a big pile of gooey lungs down on the table in front of Gary. Gary checks that these are “real” and “human” and then turns a little green. First, Dr. Diamond shows us the healthy lung. He fondles it between his rubber-gloved fingers like a cashmere sweater, demonstrating its softness and lovely pink color. Then he moves on to the blackened smoker’s lung, holding it gingerly and pointing out the “eaten away” parts. Gary says it looks like a piece of meat that someone “burnt the hell out of” on the grill.
Let’s move on to Gary’s lungs. Doc says his air sacks are beginning to be destroyed, and he is developing emphysema. His only chance to avoid that is to quit now. Then the doctor lists all the cancers, from mouth to bladder, which may follow. “There are so many problems. You will run in to one of them,” Dr. Diamond promises.
Gary is scared to death for himself and for his family. Since scaring him seems to be the point, I’d say the doctor’s work is done here. (On a side note, I’m removing Jay’s more idiotically obvious observations so you don’t have to suffer through them. My gift to you.)
Jay Gets a Whupping
in my head, at least
Jay visits the construction site and throws a hissy fit. He wanders through the house loudly exclaiming, “This is not okay!” at the professionals who give him exactly as much attention as his experience deserves. “Not done. Not done. Not done,” he whines, getting in everyone’s way.
Then Jay goes to pester Scott. I realize that this is all staged to provide drama and tension, but it’s still a bit annoying to watch Jay go off like an idiot, making pot-and-kettle comments about Scott’s ego and emphasizing the need for a plan. I’ve always had a great deal of disdain for the kind of person who is quick to point out a problem without having anything useful, like a solution, to offer. So Jay, feel my disdain. It burns, doesn’t it?
Scott says he does have a plan, and it doesn’t include wasting time arguing with Jay. Everyone but Jay can see the wisdom of that plan. Jay says later that he knows he was hard on Scott, “but it’s important to me to finish this house for Steve.” Or to have a bunch of professional construction workers finish this house for Steve. It’s all the same to Jay.
Scott sends Jay on his way by insisting, “We’re making progress. So shut your ignorant mouth and get off my site before I kick your worthless butt for the entertainment of the crew. Go back to daddy and ask him for some pointers on people skills, you ridiculous little man.” (Words in italics may have been implied rather than spoken).
Smoking Has Consequenses?
It is revealed that Sharon and the kids were under the impression that Gary had spent the previous day shopping. (This experience will be featured in Jay’s non-medical self-help manual, “How Lying Brings a Family Closer.”) Jay didn’t want the family to suffer any anxiety until Gary was ready to tell them the results. It was all about the Rosier’s well-being, with nothing at all to do with making the revelation more shocking and dramatic.
Ever the subtle one, ignoring the fact that he just promised to wait till Gary was ready, Jay prods Gary with a sarcastic, “We had fun yesterday, didn’t we?”
Gary gets a little choked up and admits to his family that he spent the day in the hospital. Sharon echoes “The hospital?” with real horror. Gary explains that Jay is trying to help him quit smoking, and we get to see a flashback of the lungs again, just in case we’d been able to successfully erase that memory from our brains. Gary tells them that emphysema is going to set in if he doesn’t quit. Everyone is teary. Sharon cries that she doesn’t want to lose her husband.
Gary promises that he is really going do it. He is going to quit. Because he’s been smoking so much and for so long, Dr. Diamond wants Gary to taper off rather than quit cold turkey. For now, he is only allowed one pack per day, and Jay puts Steven in charge of that pack. Gary has to ask his son for each cigarette. Steven seems solemn enough when he says that this experience will make them closer, but I suspect in the back of his mind, there’s just a teeny bit of pleasure at the possibility of payback. (Or maybe I’m a bad person.)
I’m no efficiency expert, but…
Day five at the house begins with stress and matching blondes. Scott rehashes what we know, that they are behind and in trouble, and then goes over all the things that need to be done. The driveway has to be finished, and the landscaping dealt with. We see shots of the men laying turf.
(Unlike Jay,) I have a suggestion for saving time. If they didn’t bother with staging all those shots of the triplets “working,” it would probably move things right along. The furniture is arriving, and the Dahms unload the plasma TVs, which seem to be a staple feature of Jay’s perfect family home.
Just as things are coming together, Mother Nature decides to have a little fun with Jay. The sky clouds over, and the team hustles to cover the furniture—waiting on the lawn for the house to be ready—with tarps.
While the crew is panicking, Scott is testing the “endless pool” they’ve installed off Steven’s new room for his physical therapy. The pool cycles a current of water so that you can swim laps without moving, like a treadmill, but much cooler. The pool is inside and climate controlled so that Steven can use it all winter long. Scott enjoys the pool quite a bit, oblivious to the chaos outside. The pool really is impressive, and Scott in a swim suit is not bad, either.
If the wind is right you can sail away and find tranquility,
Oh, the canvas can do miracles, just you wait and see,
Jay’s next goal is to rekindle Steven’s adventurous spirit. He takes the Rosiers to the docks and shows them the special boat that Steven will be able to sail on his own. Sailing isn’t easy, but Jay knows the experience won’t mean anything to Steven if it’s not a challenge. The sailing lesson commences, and I’m glad to see Jay brought a real sailor along, instead of pretending to be an expert himself. Jay chuckles gleefully that Steven’s been on the sidelines watching his family, and now the shoe is on the other foot.
Steven thoroughly enjoys the experience. “I didn’t feel handicapped because they let me drive. Finally I was able to do something on my own.” Sharon has an epiphany: “We wanted to do it, too—and I realized that’s how Steven feels all the time.”
Jay relates a touching moment he had with Steven on the boat (but since it somehow escaped being filmed, I’m skeptical that he’s telling it straight). According to Jay, Steven admits that he’d given up on his life ever being good again. But after the cycling and the sailing, he sees that there’s still life to live. I think they should give him the boat, but they don’t.
Fur Bad, Visible Skin Good
It’s time to split the family up and make them pretty. Jude makes his appearance in the same stupid hat he put on Omar during the Biggins’s makeovers. “There’s a few challenges there,” Jude admits (cut to shot of Gary’s hair) but Jude can’t wait to get started.
First up is the deforestation of Gary’s back. Jude playfully yanks a single hair from the aforementioned back and holds it up for us to see. “O-o-ow!” Gary complains, not quite as playfully. Well, Gary, if you think one hurts…
Now, I very much approve of the removal of back hair. It’s just that I don’t really enjoy watching the process. Unfortunately, the producers of Renovate My Family seem to think waxing is riveting. “Is this hot wax? OH!” (I think that’s a ‘yes.’) Rip. “Ow!” Rip. “Ow! People have this done?” Jude appears to rip off a strip himself, and then he shows the hair to the camera again. Thanks so much, Jude.
Jude asks Sharon what kind of cut she usually gets. Usually, Sharon cuts it herself. Jude blanches in horror and presses a finger to his lips as if holding back a girlie scream.
When Jude gets to Steven, he doesn’t have much to do because Steven already looks pretty good. “You’ve got it going on,” Jude compliments him. Steven agrees, commenting that Jude should be the one in the stylist’s chair. Taking Jude’s hat into account, I agree that Steven should be placed in charge of wardrobe choices, at least.
There are quick shots of Jude pulling something I couldn’t identify from April’s hair, and Dominique saying the coloring process “feels good.” Immediately we get another shot of Gary getting more of his pelt torn off. “People really like this?” he asks.
This Salon’s License Has Been Revoked
“I want to know if you cut that mullet off Gary,” Sharon laughs. We all want to know that, Sharon. And we quickly see that the mullet is bad hair history, as mullets always should be. We only see Gary from the back, but his hair as short and well-groomed. Jude quizzes Gary about his haircut history, and Gary says “Steven used to do it.” “Steven your son or Steven your stylist?” Jude demands. Do you really have to ask, Jude? I think we can all tell that this is Gary’s first run-in with style.
Jude: “Mom was cutting Dad’s hair, Dad was cutting mom’s hair, the kid’s were cutting each other’s—this salon needs to be closed!”
We get to see everyone’s new hair, and it is good all around. Gary has been freed of mullet hell. Mom looks younger and hipper, Dominique looks cute, Steven looks very good—about the same as before—and April, while pretty, looks a lot like Brittany Spears, which I can’t approve of. Everyone is thrilled, except Gary, who suffers from a mild mullet-loss-melancholia.
Clothes are next. Jude does what he’s been itching to do since the day they met—he gets Gary out of his shorts. April’s transformation into B.S. is completed.
At the house, Mother Nature’s fury pours down on Jay. She’s probably just annoyed because he keeps making such idiotically obvious comments like, “We’ve got to move this furniture inside.” Kahi, a little sunbeam of positive energy as usual, whines “This is very bad.”
The storm knocks out the power, and Jay whimpers, “Where’s Scott?”
Scott is still in the pool, enjoying its general coolness and the roof keeping the weather out. Scott climbs out, raises his arms, expands his smooth, bare chest and half-sings, “Let it rain! Let it rain!” He does start to worry about his crew, which is completely immobilized by the rain.
Jay calls the storm devastating. He hasn’t been to Florida lately, I guess. He starts mouthing off again, threatening to call the Rosiers and tell them the house is going to take longer. The crew reacts with (staged) outrage. “No way,” the triplets chorus in unison. Scott insists that the deadline is not until noon of the next day. “You haven’t seen what my guys can do in twelve hours!” The blondes put their hands together and cheer “Teamwork!” And we all take our blood pressure medication, such is the ferocity of this manufactured suspense.
Credit Where Credit Is Due
Kahi gets her fifteen seconds to try to prove her usefulness. She talks about Steven’s room, which will be cool and functional, giving him space without being obvious about it. She explains the theory behind Dominique’s room: Dominique loves nature, so they’ve made a forest in her room. April wants to be the next Brittany Spears (I see the method behind Jude’s madness now) so her room will have a recording studio and a dance floor.
Jay whines about the power outage. It seems he’s sweating now. I’m sure the people who are really working have much sympathy for him. But he’s in a good mood. “This house is shaping up,” he says proudly. “I think we’re going to get it done just in time.”
Before moving on to the shocking reveal, we see yet another long flashback of the “journey,” but I won’t toy with your patience by repeating myself. If you have problems with short term memory loss, as the producers seem to assume, you can skim the recap again.
Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy
The billboard is in place in front of the new house, and so is Steven. I guess they didn’t want to show him being helped out of a limo, but I think it kind of sucks. He still looks good, and a random triplet gushes about his cuteness. “He’s the most amazing guy ever.” Keep your creepy, illegal yearnings to yourself, Fembot.
Dominique gets the first limo. Her hair is cute, and so is she. She seems very pleased with her new look. April shows up next, and seems to have reached her goal to become a Brittany Spears clone. The hair is good, but the jacket looks like it was made from curtains. (Sound of Music, anyone?)
Sharon arrives and Steven thinks she looks beautiful (though, again, I have issues with the wardrobe choice). Gary is the last to arrive, which is appropriate as his makeover is by far the most dramatic. He’s not leading man material or anything, but he looks 100% better. Sharon thinks he looks like a million dollars. She and Gary have a little flirtatious, romantic moment as they appraise the new looks.
Jay thinks everyone “owns” their new look, and mentions that Gary has only had 6 cigarettes so far today, as opposed to the 80 he smoked the first day. Ah, but the sun is still high in the sky, Jay.
Are they ready for their new home? Jay waits through a dramatic pause as if expecting the Rosiers to decide they need another day to think about it. Then the billboard is lifted, and Jay screeches, “Rosiers…WELCOME HOME!”
Eating Off the Floor Has Never Been So Touching
Stunned faces, screaming, inaudible but clearly enunciated cussing…pretty much the reaction you’d expect. The house looks beautiful, but, having seen it so many times in the previews, we are unsurprised. Jay points out that Steven can go through the front door now, and Steven hugs his father. The whole family joins in the hug.
Steven gets to do the honors and open the front door. “Oh, Sharon, Sharon, Sharon!” Gary says. I would just like to add, apropos of nothing, that the obvious love between mom and dad is one of the sweetest things about this family.
The front room has wooden floors, deep red walls, stone arches and fireplace, the ubiquitous plasma TVs, a piano, warm toned furnishings, and, most of all, a lot of open space. Gary notices how easily Steven is able to get around.
Gary is truly moved when he sees the table. “You saved the floor! What a piece of art!” He gets choked up. Jay points out the missing chair at the head of the table—Steven’s place. He gives the credit for the table to Scott; if the cameras hadn’t been rolling, though, I bet he would have told a different story. Gary says, “I love that table. That’s going to be in my family for the rest of my life.”
Like last week, this house is sponsored by the Smart Home System, which Jay explains to the overwhelmed Rosiers. “I can’t figure out the TV remote,” Sharon worries. “I’m a little embarrassed,” Gary admits. “I’ve never been in a house where the house is smarter than me.” Jay uses the control panel to turn on the TV, and the Rosiers get a high speed peek at the house being built, which they all enjoy.
They move on to the kitchen. There is lots of light and pretty rosewood cabinets. Sharon is thrilled by the dishwasher—her first. The aisles are wide for Steven, and all the appliances are within his reach. Jay shows off the central vacuum. Meh. I think central vacs are more trouble than they’re worth, but that’s just my opinion.
More of the Same
The girls go downstairs to see their rooms. Dominique’s room looks like something from Disneyland’s Pooh Corner, and she loves it. Plasma TV, naturally. April gravitates immediately to the microphone in her room, and is thrilled when Jay announces she can record herself on CDs…and DVDs, because there is a camera in the ceiling to film her, too. Once again, I find the camera inclusion creepy. April is blown away by the dance floor, and can’t wait to get started. “This is so April,” Sharon comments.
It’s time to visit the master suite. It’s really not much changed; the bed is bigger, and the colors are brighter. Gary likes the big bed. He sits next to Sharon and kisses her. He says something about if the cameras weren’t there, they might have gotten carried away. I’m glad that the cameras are a determent.
The master bath is bigger and nice, but nothing compared to the Biggins’s. Gary admires the cabinet work and Sharon foresees romance in the tub. This prompts Gary to say, “We are forever, Sharon and I.” Aw. They’re a nice couple.
The master suite is not the highlight, though. Saving the best for last, we move on to Steven’s room. Jay makes the girls wait for Steven and Gary to go through the room together first (subtle as a chainsaw, Jay). The room is huge and a little sci-fi, in grays and blues with lots of metal shelves and fancy exercise equipment. Steven is overwhelmed. The room is voice controlled, Jay demonstrates, asking “Steven’s computer?” “Yes?” the computer answers, just like in Star Trek. This is cool, until Jay tells us the computer’s voice belongs to the triplets (just one, or all three? No one ever says). Ew.
The bathroom is large and wide, with everything Steven needs to be self-sufficient. This chokes Steven up, and (to a very, very small degree) I can understand; a few years ago I broke an arm while eight months pregnant and, let me tell you, relying on others to help you shower and shave your legs really sucks. I can only imagine how relieved and free Steven must feel after a year and a half of dependence. “Thank you so much,” Steven can barely manage to say. “This means the world to me.” Gary is thrilled at the freedom this will give his son. Steven also has a roll-in closet with all his clothes arranged at convenient heights. The girls are allowed in, and Sharon seems a little jealous of the closet space. I picture some of her things migrating here.
“Are you ready for another surprise?” Jay asks. It’s time to see Scott’s baby—the pool. Steven is thrilled. Jay shows off the technology. There’s a chair that will swing Steven over the water and lower him down/lift him out. He mentions another sponsor, “Aqua Shield,” who provided the retractable roof. “What are you thinking?” Jay asks Steven. “I’m thinking I want to go swimming,” Steven replies. Sharon chirps, “I think we all want to go swimming.” Step off, mom. This is for the boy. And get those shoes out of his closet.
Are you ready for another surprise? I’d rather pass actually, but I’m committed to bringing you every tiny (boring) detail, so let’s go see the garage. Gary is awed by the equipment waiting for him. Everything is at Steven’s height, so he will be able to work with his father again. “I want to use that lathe really bad,” Steven tells Jay.
The design team shows up for their obligatory hugs. The family extols the beauties of the house and the team. Their gratitude is sweet and heartfelt. “I know how much work this took,” Gary says. “Steven is going to be thankful everyday.” Sharon promises they will always remember Jay and the team.
They show a before and after picture of the Rosiers. In the after picture, all the Rosiers have huge smiles. Though I can’t endorse the haphazard psychology of this show, at least Steven has received a huge upgrade in his quality of life, and I am very happy for him. I wish the Rosiers all the best.
Next week…on Renovate My Family
Oh my. Renovate My Family takes on the Munsters. There will be skulls, coffins, and Mom and Step-dad’s gothic rock band. The title “Step-dad” may be more of a nickname, because it looks like we’re getting a wedding, too.
So I’ll see you next week for another exciting installment of…hello? Is anybody in here? Hello? Hello… Hello… Hello… (cool echo effect). Well, I’ll be here, anyway. Hot. Dog.
I’ll just be talking to myself over here… email@example.com