Screen Reviews

Mission: Organization

with Al Ducharme

Home and Garden TV


As I sit with my wife, surrounded by a technology and entertainment overload that defines the Year of Our Lord 2003, we find ourselves drawn to a television show completely focused on people cleaning out closets. We all have too much junk, brought on by a combination of over-efficient manufacturing and distribution, aggressive marketing and credit policies, and a fundamental tendency to packrat potentially useful objects against future need. Thus, we all live in an ocean of junk, and even with today’s low interest rates, can’t afford a place big enough to keep all this stuff. Enter HGTV, a network devoted to improving your homebound life style with a combination of creative color choice and overpriced designers.


Tonight’s episode follows the tearful story of Joyce Laporte. She lives with her daughter and son-in-law, both of whom look like they wish she’d just get a condo in Biloxi. She’s an obsessive shopper, and now owns more clothing than Imelda Marcos. They converted a two-car garage into a bedroom, which she has now stuffed to the gills, and her leopard skin coats are now threatening to overwhelm the family office. Rather than cut up her credit cards, HGTV calls in professional help. Meet the Babes in Black of organization, Gena Pierantozzi and Doreen Noughton, organizational consultants. With their bee girl sunglasses and ominous-looking portfolio cases, they take the bull by the horns and redesign the bedroom. They make her throw out half her stuff, most of which should never have been hung on a rack to begin with, and then they bring in the big gun – Stephanie Malin, Closet Specialist First Class. Yes, folks, it takes THREE high-paid consultants to straighten up this woman’s life. Oh, if only she could do a little charity work at the ASPCA!

Hosting this paean to banality and pretense is a pleasant-looking young man, Al Ducharme. Deep down, he realizes this in not much of an acting career, but if he ever makes it big, at least it’s not as embarrassing as starting in a porn flick. Dressed in a neat red shirt and chinos, he really look like he would rather be doing anything else, except this probably pays better than scale and is steady work. Chekov in the church basement can wait; he’s making the rent and might even get to do soap if this pans out. Closets – aspirations – consumerism gone amuck – God, this whole thing is so tawdry!

Twenty years ago, This Old House proved you could get people to watch a home repair show if you populated it with slightly crazed people. We now have entire cable channels devoted to the topic, and filling the hours of bandwidth is a greater and greater challenge every day. Remodeling a classic New England farmhouse? No problem. Do it yourself wiring? Racy, but fun to watch. Repainting the family room with a mural of your favorite sports franchise? I’ve done it. But cleaning out your closets? On National TV? Have they no shame? Apparently not. I find myself watching it more than I should. Somehow, it’s reassuring.

Home and Garden Television:

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