Sorry to Jean-Paul Sartre, but my idea of hell is other people’s entertainment. Everything about the “Rock the Block” renovation competition series (8pm, HGTV) makes my skin crawl.
There was a time when HGTV was worth watching – when there were relatively normal and not gorgeous people teaching us amateurs how to cut wood and fill tile. YouTube and other videos largely took over the teaching aspects of home improvement entertainment, and HGTV became a long commercial for major hardware stores and a showcase for himself and his increasingly handsome talent.
“Rock the Block” demonstrates this transformation in its most extreme form. HGTV star Ty Pennington leads a competition among eight HGTV design and renovation experts to convert completely identical suburban properties within a month.
Sitcom sets are increasingly designed to resemble generic furniture showrooms. Now we are invited to spend time in replacement on-site test houses. Whose block is it being rocked exactly?
And what is at stake here if you run the risk of sounding old-fashioned? Game shows and reality competitions featured ordinary Schmoes looking to win big prizes and change their lives. “Rock” gives each team a budget of $ 225,000 to upgrade every fake non-apartment. Your prize: “bragging rights”. They’re already celebrities with a steady job on a cable channel. So why should we care?
HGTV continues a trend that began decades ago with the classic time-waster “Big Brother”, and gives fans even more opportunities to catch the action on “Rock the Block” via the HGTV.com/RocktheBlock website, which is where it really is Obsessive, bored, or both can access scenes from season one, before-and-after photos, and other behind-the-scenes insights. There are also links to the Instagram accounts of the Faux Stars renovating a fake house. Help yourself.
It’s funny to think of a network that was once considered a “home and garden” that focuses on semi-celebrities renovating non-homes. But it is hardly alone. There are no arts in A&E and hardly a story in history. Even the weather channel has branched out into entertainment, and too many “news” and religious channels specialize in building ugly cults of white resentment. Given that, HGTV and Rock the Block are just a small circle in my personal hell.
THE OTHER HIGHLIGHTS FROM TONIGHT
• The quarantine pushes a couple far beyond the cabin fever “9-1-1” (7pm, Fox, TV-14).
• High octane competition on Street Outlaws (7pm, Discovery, TV-14).
• A-list talents (Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Seth MacFarlane, Scarlett Johansson and John C. Reilly) animate the 2016 cartoon musical “Sing” (7pm and 9.30pm, FX, TV-PG).