Monday, October 25, 2010

The reality of reality t.v.

Lets start with the basics, if you don't already know.
Not much about reality television is real. Including home makeover shows.

*gasp* Really? Yes, really.

When my friend told me I should apply for HomeMade Simple, I did so thinking there was no way they would pick us.

Honestly because though we can be messy occasionally, I love to decorate, I'm not that bad at organizing, and in general I think we have it together.

And I realized after this whole process that that is totally true. But they loved the idea of a family with 6 kids. So we got picked.

Now, when the whole crew arrived to start filming, most of them said something to the affect of "why are we in this house?" "this girl doesn't need us, she could work for us."

And while their comments made me feel good, I began to see how t.v. is so scripted that they can make anything they want with the final edits.

But I am not jaded. It was super fun. Everyone was really nice, and they made the experience a great one for us. I would totally do it again, my eyes were just opened to how it all really works.

I now know that no matter how put together, creative, blessed with decorating talent and efficient in their parenting skills someone might be, they would still give the same intro they gave me.

"Amy, a busy mom of six, doesn't have time for decorating and struggles with preparing meals for her family."

Not really true. But that's the angle they wanted, because otherwise, why would I need Homemade Simple?

And though most of our interaction with the Mavens was genuine, our one on one camera interviews with the director were mostly lines fed to us. Not lies at all, but just carefully worded to work with the script. Things like when I said "Now instead of the Odd Couple, they're the Spotless Sisters"

Yeah right, like I would really say something that cheesy. But it worked.

And he made Kate say that she was the cleanest one in the house. She hated saying that! Kate is extremely honest anyway, but she had a hard time with that cuz she would never, ever say something like that. You can tell, if you know her well, when she says it that she is uncomfortable with it.

Julia just rolled with it all. And once we shut down their efforts to make Julia look bad, she had a great time.

Their working theme for the show was the Odd Couple. They really wanted to cast Julia and Kate as complete opposites, which they are, but not in the way they wanted to tell it.

The first attempts were to make Julia look like the lazy, messy girl, and for Kate to be the put together tidy girl. And while they have different ways of organizing, and clutter doesn't bother Julia, the four of us were very uncomfortable with the way they were portraying Julia.

So I began some subterfuge, and when the director would try to get me to say how messy Julia was, I would say instead "she just likes to be organized on the floor", or " julia is so creative and so she likes to have her belongings around her. "

We all just started refusing to play the game until finally Mike caught on, reassured us they would not make Julia look bad, and he stopped trying to get us to say negative things about her.

Because honestly, HomeMade Simple is not an expose. They are not trying to make people look bad, they just want them to look like they are in super need of the Maven's help.

Which is another interesting thing. While all the Maven's have earned their right to be there, with there career paths, their talents and their ideas, none of them could do it without their assistants.

Patrick's assistant Jesse made everything. Patrick would say he made it, but it was really Jesse. Patrick could have made it, but the stars usually are just there for the on camera stuff, and their assistants do everything else. Including the shopping and the putting together of the ideas.

The ideas themselves are a collaborative effort from the whole crew, but the assistants to the mavens do all the real work.

I was amazed by that. I had been an honest believer in what I saw on T.V. It never crossed my mind that the Maven's weren't really there sweating away while they put the ideas together.

And while all the Maven's were super great, my favorite was Candace, the cooking Maven. She really created the recipes for one (which were honestly sooo good), but she was so honoring of who I am as a wife and mother and decorator. She asked me all kinds of questions about how to find the right guy (I told her church is probably the best place to find someone with her same values) and we just really connected and had a great time spending a whole day together cooking.

We also, really did almost nothing for the actual projects. Either they would replace what we had been making with already made items (made by the assistants), or they would undo the stuff we had done and then do it for real.

And the product placement was hilarious. Proctor and Gamble has a guy that travels around with the show, and his entire job is to place P&G products throughout the house, and to make sure the sponsors products get the agreed upon air time. The rest of the time he is on his lap top or playing with his phone.

I want his job.

Probably the hardest part, for me personally, of seeing the show air was that I found it is not a myth that the camera adds ten pounds.

When I first met Wanda, the decorating maven, I was alarmed to see that she was littler in real life then on t.v.

So while I am not little, or skinny by any means, it was hard for me to see myself looking even chubbier. I'm neurotic, what can I say.

And I'm backed up by a few friends and my sister (who see me everyday)who noticed that as well.

So that part of television is real, unfortunately.

But we do love the girls' room. They did a great job and it's functioning well for us. And the Laundry Chest they made is beautiful. They really did make it out of the girls old desk.
Although I can't bring myself to put dirty laundry in it. So for now it is holding blankets.

But now that the show is over, I can post pictures.

This is the before picture of the girls room that I sent the casting director.

And here are the afters-This desk is my favorite thing. They each have their own side, with their own stuff. But on the show they said they found the table at a flea market for 30 dollars. No. They made it. And they made the cork board, even though they said they found it at a garage sale for 10 bucks. They just want you to feel like you can do this project yourself without having to make anything. Which, is probably technically true.

The chairs they really did get at a thrift store.

They said they got the mailboxes second hand, which is only true of one of them. The rest they bought brand new. But it's been a great addition to the girls room. At first I didn't like them, but it really keeps their hands off stuff away from the little kids. Henry and Nora and Anne Marie never even think to look in there.

I love the color on the walls and the bedding. Ashley, Wanda's assistant, really picked bedding that matched each girls personality and personal taste.

And I loved that they took a picture of the dot mural that my sister in law Amy had done for the girls. Everyone, including Wanda and Ashley were sad to paint over it. So they preserved it in the little hanging frames in front of the windows.

All in all, it was fun, and some of us would do it again. But not Kate. She in fact told me she just wants to forget the whole thing.

I think the worst moment was right at the end of the reveal, before the mavens left. In every past season they always give the family 500 dollars at the end. So we kind of expected/hoped for it.

Well, at the end Patrick told us that they left something special for us in the mailboxes. So we thought, ok, this is it.

We walked over to the mailboxes and inside were two pieces of paper that the Maven's had signed with their names and"enjoy your new room!"

So while it was nice, I'm sure our faces showed "um, where's the 500 dollars?"

So that didn't make the final cut. And it was a little bit of a let down, but now after watching season 7, no one got money.

They probably spent about 500 dollars on redoing our two rooms, plus super yummy catered food.

So that was 500 dollars I didn't have for a room redo, and 4 days where I didn't have to cook.
And I didn't have to do any of the real work, and our family got to be on T.V.

So all's well that ends well, I say.

So give me your feedback if you watched it. And tell me that I'm way skinnier in real life, ok?
Yes, I want you to lie to me. That's what friends do, isn't it?


  1. Brad and I watched it Saturday morning and thought it was great. Our favorite part was seeing the brief interactions between you and was so YOU and we loved that. Made us miss you a little more. The room turned out great and it was fun getting a glimpse of your kids.

    And we thought you looked beautiful!

  2. I think that you were great Amy as well as Jeff, Kate and Julia! I personally think that you looked wonderful! Beauty is NOT 10 pounds is what comes thru from your heart and soul and YOU ARE TRULY BEAUTIFUL!

  3. I honestly didn't notice, Amy. I just thought you looked fabulous. I was amazed that your hair looked "day 1" all 3 (4?) days!! Mine would have ruined their "continuity" shots, for sure.

    thank you again for inviting us to join you for the Brunch...Laurel loved it and we are both VERY envious of the fact that you have lived our dreams. :)

  4. I love the girl's room, Amy! I'm sorry that I missed the show...can you tell me where I can see it? You look wonderful in the photo on the website, and I'm sure you looked just as good on film!

  5. Well Amy, I have a friend who said to me after watching "your" show. Amy is sooo photogenic She just glowed. She thought you and Jeff got picked because you looked so good on camera. So that cancels out any of your 10 pound worries. What a talented and good looking family.

  6. I wish I got that channel so I could have seen it! I am sure you looked fabulous! I thought the room turned out great. That would be hard to say things that you didn't really feel fit them. I am sure it was quite an eye opener to see how it all unfolded.

  7. OMGosh OMGosh OMGosh, just watched the show!!!!!!!

    1) If the camera adds 10 pounds then man are you ever a smoking hot mamma of 6. I'm NOT just saying that either!
    2) I love that I now have a voice to go with the words I'm reading :-)
    3) I now have idea's to add to existing items in kids rooms to add more organization and fun,yea!!
    4) I am sad about the lying about price and where purchased things.
    5)LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the lamp!!!! Does the yarn get to hot or is that not something you need to worry about?
    5) I love how emotional you got with the mailbox's, I would have too and did right along with you, we do become weeping ninny's after kids I say :-)
    6) Sooooo jealous that those beautiful girls of yours tried all 3 of those meals! Mine would have covered their mouths and refused seeing the veggies and then the beans!!


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