HGTV, the only good channel left in the television wasteland, has a new offering for lovers of home improvement and design shows called Help! I Wrecked My House. Hosted by HGTV-lebrity and Hidden Potential host Jasmine Roth, the show follows her on a journey across California to help people who fucked up their own home by watching too much HGTV and deciding to do a DIY renovation. True to the reno-show format, Roth comes in, gets a budget, and as sure as Joanna Gaines loves shiplap, that budget is blown out of the water because things are much worse than they appear. Finally, a show where HGTV is HGTVing itself after having HGTVed the wrong way, which is a precious gift to humanity and especially to HGTV fans.
Help! premiered Saturday; with popcorn in hand and husband on mute, I was ready to watch Roth walk into a house that looked like an airplane hanger and save a family from an excessively open concept home by rebuilding the walls they probably tore down in a quarantine-induced rage. Instead, the premiere was a slow burn featuring DIY lovers Kevin and Heather, who’d lost the willpower to finish their kitchen, bathroom, and backyard and also needed to create more space in their small living room.
The couple gave Roth a budget of $80,000 to fix the electrical and cover exposed wiring in the kitchen, put up backsplash, fix cabinetry, install lighting, and—most important of all—finish their en suite bathroom. As is part of the formula for these kinds of shows, Kevin the husband gave a tearful explanation as to why his wife deserved a nice bathtub to soak in, even though he only wanted a stand-up shower. After years of marriage, managing their home renovations, and giving birth to their child, Kevin saw the value in his wife and wanted her to have a tub as a thank you. Beautiful.
Kevin and Heather also needed improvements in their backyard, which was perfectly fine, although sparse, except for a wood fence that was crumbling under the weight of some ivy, which Heather hated. Who hates ivy? Roth kicked the couple out for six weeks and got straight to work. But as soon as she did, there was a plumbing issue that led to her team having to rip out the one fully finished bathroom and the wife’s tub in order to reroute a whole bunch of pipes. Of course. A quarter of the entire budget gone before the second commercial break.
While coming up with the new design for the home, Roth offered helpful tips on DIY—just in case, after the episode and indeed the entire concept of this show, which is essentially “Botched for Houses”—anyone still felt inclined to make the mistake of not hiring a contractor. She talked about the smart way to buy (ugly) tile for the kitchen; inexpensive plants that are best for landscaping (even though they cost 6K); and how to use vinegar to stain reclaimed wood that didn’t require staining.
When it was time for the big reveal, I was more nervous than the couple, because Roth had decided to put a huge mural over the bathtub, the one intended as a gift for a very hard-working wife. The mural was an enormous photo of the entire family staring down into the tub. It was absolutely horrific.
The last thing anyone should have to look at while soaking in their tub, lined with marble slab, is a photo of their own husband and child, considering that the bathroom is famously where moms go for a brief respite from their families, no matter how beloved. However, Heather said she liked the mural, while Kevin (probably) silently questioned why there was a plant in his standing shower. At least they have a nice backyard now if nothing else.