Seen recently on HGTV’s Design Star “Behind the Scenes” blog:

From Guest
I’m an interior designer and a huge HGTV fan. I agree with other posts regarding giving the designers more time to complete designs – I think we would see much better results. I also think that the designers should be given more assistants.

From Guest Blogger James Bolosh, Vice-President of Event Programming
Wouldn’t be much fun to watch then, would it? Also, in real life interior design -not in a competition setting – takes months and months to complete a room. If we followed your “model” of doing the show it would never get produced.

Commenter “Dori” responded to Bolosh’s “Bolsh**t” by saying,

Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t this the type of show hosted by each of our judges?

Too true!  I would like to go one step further by saying that if you really think viewers prefer crap to real excellence, how do you explain the phenomenal success of:

Top Chef–This season, they’re sporting a Michelin Star-rated chef and two James Beard award nominations among their cast.  Chefs competing in the finale may not need months to prepare their dishes, but they are given the opportunity to get some much-needed R&R before taking on their final challenge.


Top Chef Masters–This particular season of Top Chef deserves to be singled out for its amazing superstar cast and its surprising lack of drama of the backstabbing variety.  Out of the 24 world-renowned chefs who participated in the contest, only one acted like a jerk.  The rest of the cast supported and revered each other so much, they made me fall in love with a favorite show all over again.  I’m not saying anyone on this season of Design Star has acted like a jerk, I’m just pointing out that we viewers can appreciate and recognize drama that doesn’t revolve around mediocrity of character or mediocrity of skill.  According to the Hollywood Reporter, “‘Masters’ was the highest-rated series premiere for a Wednesday at 10 p.m. show (in cable channel Bravo’s) history,” so that speaks to its popularity with viewers.

Project Runway–This standout allows their final fashion designer contestants to go home and spend a few months creating their collections.  Could you not do the same thing with Design Star?  Simply create a challenge for the two last finalists to work on over the course of a few months within a predetermined budget in their hometowns?  Rather than having the cameras rolling 24/7, couldn’t you just check in periodically like they do on Project Runway?  Then bring the cameras back to shoot all the action of the last three days and judge the designers’ “masterpieces.”  How cool would that be?  Geez, even Top Design gave their final two something like a week to complete their final projects.  Appoint a chaperone to guard the houses and monitor who does what, if you’re so hell-bent on mistrusting your prospective Stars.

The Olympics–Even people who would otherwise never watch competitive sports were riveted by swimmer Michael Phelps last summer.  After all of the gold medals were awarded, Michael became our media darling.  If that was “boring,” I guess America just eats up boring.

Big Break–Golf fanatics are crazy about this show (and I happen to be hooked myself, via my golf-nut hubby), because it’s a showcase of skill and talent.

The point I’m trying to make is that you can take the high road or the low road to ratings–it’s completely your choice.  But if you want the “buzz” factor that these ratings darlings above seem to have, your best bet is the high road.  A lot of people do like to watch stupid crap on TV, I’ll grant you that.  But they become obsessed when the competition is inspiring, innovative, wish-I-could-freakin’-do-that kind of programming.

My two cents.