Wednesday, September 28, 2011

made over

A few years ago, the Pauni family in our community was on the receiving end of an Extreme Home Makeover.  I wasn't directly involved, so my memory is kind of hazy, but I do remember it being a very big deal, one which involved a whole lot of monetary donations and donations of time and materials by people in Cache Valley.  I remember it being a big unifying event in our community.  Although the actual home that was made-over isn't exactly on any of my regular routes, almost every time I am in the general area where it all took place, I think back to that time.

quirky 9-11

Probably because of those memories, I've read with interest (and sadness) the accounts of other recipients--stories that aren't so happy.  I've heard rumors of severely increased property taxes, second mortgages being taken out, even one possible foreclosure.  I've read opinions of those who cast blame at Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (EMHE), hinting, or coming right out and saying, that if the homes weren't so over the top, they would serve the recipients better, and would avoid these kinds of problems.

To be perfectly frank, that view seems a little "gift horse-y" to me.  In every episode of EMHE I've seen, I've witnessed a family in dire need of a better living situation get exactly that.  I've seen local people come together and do the lion's share of the work to make that living situation a reality.  I've seen wonder and awe and intense gratitude on the part of those who have given and those who have received.  And, chances are extremely slim that any of it would have happened without the catalyst that is Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.  

Sure, the homes are extravagant, and have bells and whistles that are so extreme that it's almost silly.  But, that's why it's called EXTREME Makeover.  That's also a big part of why millions of hobby home decorators tune in every week--to see the story unfold, but also to see what crazy decor and installations the designers will dream up and implement.  Does a seven year old boy really need a sculptured waterfall in his bedroom or a concession stand complete with flavored oxygen in his basement?  Probably not.  But, people tune in to see that kind of stuff, and because they tune in, the show continues to run, and families and communities continue to reap big benefits because of it.  

That's the main thing that I took from watching Episode 902/The Gomez Family.  As I mentioned on the earlier post, the Gomez's live in the Salt Lake Valley, and are Mormons, so there was much in the episode that was very familiar to me.  (The Gomez's even keep gratitude journals, which, while not necessarily a Mormon thing or a Utah thing,  is definitely  a Charlotte thing.)  I loved seeing my mountains in nearly every outdoor shot.  I was totally intrigued when the designers went out to Kennecott Mine, which happens to be the largest open pit copper mine in the world, and an employer that helped my dad earn his way through school, (with the help of my mom, and without any help from infant me).  I was impressed that the decision was made to give the Gomez family an income property as well, to help with medical bills and living expenses (and increased property taxes?).  I cried to the point of needing tissues at a certain spot which involved a certain soccer game, which I would love to tell you about, but I don't want to spoil the glorious surprise.  They even managed to work in a plug for good old along the way, which I found both slightly humorous and totally brilliant.

Yes, there were moments that were a little (or a lot) cheesy.  Yes, the show abounds with product placement at nearly every turn.  But Jonah and Ellie Gomez aren't living in their grandma's basement anymore, and as of yesterday afternoon, I'm on my way to becoming a part of the Bone Marrow Match Registry.

Pretty good results, if you ask me.


Episode 902 of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition will be aired on CBS on Sunday, October 2.

(pauni week image courtesy of


Mom C said...

I have pretty much stopped watching Extreme Makeover for the reasons you gave; over the top designing, sappy, and concern that families will be able to handle what they are given. But I will make a point of watching this one and wish them the best. So did you give any Mormon points of view?

Charlotte said...

I didn't give any Mormon points of view, but that's not really what they were asking. More than anything, I think they're trying to create a buzz about it, and are interested in reaching out to my vast audience of (thirty-six) Mormon readers.

(Either that or they heard that my mom had stopped watching and they're pulling out all the stops to win you back!)

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