Are Reality Rehab Shows for Real?

We’ve had The Osborne’s, Bounty Hunter, Little People, Big World , and Super Nanny. It was only a matter of time before we got a real estate reality show or two. Actually it’s more like three shows; Property Ladder and the clones Flip This House and Flip That House. Finally, Hollywood has discovered the handyman, or in some cases, the handywoman. And thanks to whole production teams these flipper folk, and even their houses, are getting to be stars.

We’ve had The Osborne’s, Bounty Hunter, Little People, Big World , and Super Nanny. It was only a matter of time before we got a reality show or two. Actually it’s more like three shows; Property Ladder and the clones Flip This House and Flip That House. Finally, Hollywood has discovered the handyman, or in some cases, the handywoman. And thanks to whole production teams these flipper folk, and even their houses, are getting to be stars.

But are these shows for real or are they more like high stake gameshow versions of Monopoly with a suspensful twinge of Blind Man’s Bluff? For the next few posts, I’ll review these shows to answer the question, “Can they possibly be serious?”

Property Ladder

Property Ladder is hosted by verteran flipper Kirsten Kemp who looks more like a Junior Leaguer fresh out of a Talbot catalog rather than a jill of all trades contractor. Who said multi-tasking soccer moms couldn’t have it all?

Kirsten gives first-time flippers valuable advice-packed quick info-bytes like “Don’t get greedy,” and “This is not the time to create your dream house.” Last but not least, she also passes on the most important wisdom gem of all, “A lot can go wrong.”

She should know. She’s flipped 40 properties in seven years and made a profit about 70 percent of the time. Not bad, but is it stellar?

Still Property Ladder introduces us to such raw recruit flippers as Ashley who gets called a “fascist dictator” by her friends who are working for free. Maybe she should have thrown in some extra cheesy bread with those Chicago style pizzas, hmmmm? But Ashley remains unfrazzled for the most part. As long as it gets done in reasonable real time, right? And she does manage to make a by the end of the episode, which is more of the way it’s supposed to be.

But Property Ladder does have one thing in its favor. It shows the mistakes. “This is an observational documentary,” executive producer, Char Serwa, says. “We’re not advocating that people do this.”

So is that a disclaimer? Does that really help while you’re watching real people, instead of paid actors, getting dirty, sick, asperated, and possibly rich as long as the real estate market continues to hold up? But you do get the chance to fantasize. It’s the couch potato’s version of Let’s Pretend … to be an investor, contractor, landscaper, interior decorator, master tile layer, etc. without the mess, fuss, or Icy Hot Patches.

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