Extreme exploitation?

Extreme exploitation?

Some people are making a big deal out of a casting memo sent out for ABC’s very popular “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” television show that, in the space of week, demolishes and completely rebuilds and furnishes a home for some needy family.

The Smoking Gun web site has the memo sent out to ABC affiliates and lists certain specific family situations the production company is looking to highlight next season.

Not content with humdrum stories of poverty, heartache, and distress, the producers of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” have compiled a creepy wish list of woe for the next season of the hit ABC television series, The Smoking Gun has learned.

The whole SG article, and the newspaper articles I’ve seen based on it, drip with derision and condescension for the show because it is “maudlin, tug-on-your-heartstrings television” and for it’s tendency to evoke pathos and empathy for the family featured each week.

Does the show go a little over-the-top sometimes? Yes. Does it use a few too many gimmicks and product placements? Yep. But don’t discount how much the prevailing cynicism of our age dislikes anything that smacks of altruism or faith. Skeptics always suspect the worst motives, especially when the helping hand originates in Hollywood. Probably with good reason. On the other hand, what if there are some people who really are trying to change the culture and revamp the wasteland that TV has become?

So we’re back to the original question. Why would ABC and the producers put out such a specific list of pitiable illnesses and tragedies it wants to feature? Because tears make good ratings?

What would be a good reason for that memo?

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  • I wonder how many applications they really get for the show? I would love someone to come to my house and remodeled, but would people really care if the people didn’t truely need an plift in their life. I really do like the shows where they make a home the home handicap accessable.

  • Captialism works.  If ABC makes money, and homes get repaired, that is great.  I do not see the potential downside of ABC profitting from this.  It would be extremely unlikely that people would attempt to contract cancer to get their homes repaired. 

    How about some applause for ABC (and Sears) for doing this?  I don’t see the Desparate Houswives or Grays Anatomy producers restoring homes for the needy. 


  • To go even further, I’m happy if ABC makes money from this. That would mean that they would see profit in broadcasting something other than the steady stream of salacious crap that we normally get.