The current offerings for home improvement reality television are overwhelming to the point of suffocation: a curse and also a blessing. There’s too much TV. But in that pile of shows about flipping garbage found at a flea markets and renovating extreme bathrooms, one can occasionally find a beautiful gem. Insane Pools: Off the Deep End is that gem. It’s my favorite show on television.
Lucas Congdon, an affable man with a year-round tan, owns a company called Lucas Lagoons which makes resort-style pools for rich people in Florida with medium-bad taste. The show’s premise is like all the other home improvement shows, wherein a couple presents a problem (there’s no big pool) and Lucas and his crew solve it (now there’s a big pool). Throughout the hour-long episode, Lucas and his friendly crew, Woman (his mother, who really does prefer to go by this moniker), Old Man, Crash, and my favorite, Sunshine, break ground, smash rocks, and fill giant holes in the Floridian landscape with water. The destruction segments of home renovation shows have never been the most exciting part for me, except when Nicole Curtis of Rehab Addict tears through bad carpeting and crows in delight at the reveal of hardwood floors. But there’s a thrill in watching a man operate construction equipment carrying huge hunks of Florida limestone for a pool that looks “natural” but is actually anything but.
Every pool that Congdon and his pals make are beautifully tacky simulacrums of nature, evocative of the famed pool at the Playboy mansion, replete with grottos not meant for fucking, but for quiet and wholesome family time. The attention to detail is astonishing; the landscaping, which Woman oversees, is tropical and lush and the pools themselves do “blend in” to their surroundings. If you squint and use just an ounce of your imagination, these pools look like they sort of belong.
As a woman whose dream is to eventually retire to some sort of semi-aquatic, manatee-adjacent lifestyle, Insane Pools speaks to me. I have easily watched four episodes in a row, slipping into a pleasant stupor punctuated only by my genuine gasps of delight when the big reveal hits. The most recent episode I watched involved a “plake” for Frank Giuffre, Congdon’s AV guy. The pool itself was so enormous that the team installed a bottom that was a highly-advanced liner instead of poured concrete, to save money. “Plake” is a clever portmanteau of pool and lake; this pool was big enough to accomodate a canoe. Another episode featured a pool with a lazy river. Imagine! A lazy river in your own backyard. I couldn’t, until Lucas Lagoons showed me the way.
Of course, these pools are aspirational at best. Budget is rarely mentioned on the show, but in one episode I watched, Lucas casually mentioned a figure in the $60,000 range for a pool. This, to me, is either the correct amount to spend or not nearly enough. If I’m paying for people to tear into my yard for 4 months, I would very much like it if the result is the kind of pool that inspires jealousy from my neighbors, my sisters, and the Sandals resort down the way. Give me a pool that looks like it came from a deserted island dreamt up by a small child with delusions of grandeur. I want a lazy river, three waterfalls, a sand bar, a tiki hut, and one of those big TVs that is waterproof and raises up from the ground as if by magic. I want to watch my stories in a pool that makes me feel like Scrooge McDuck.