HGTV’s Design Star Season 6: Bye Bye Bitchy

HGTV’s Design Star Season 6: Bye Bye Bitchy

Okay, this season I’ve been trying to be good about spoilers, but this time I just can’t hold myself back.



Let’s all take a moment for a dance of joy.

Now that that’s taken care of, what the hell happened last night, HGTV?  Does anyone really want to see a wedding reception decorated in a day and a half?  No.  Will a wedding reception decorated in a day and a half look like anything other than ass?  No.  Was it even interesting?  Hell, no.

If I sound a little cranky about it, I am.  While putting Phoebe to bed last night, I felt so exhausted I just wanted to go to bed myself.  I looked at Jeb and asked, “Are any of our shows coming on tonight?” to which he replied, “Yours.”  Oh, right.  Design Star. When one of your biggest fans doesn’t even remember that you’re on TV, you know you’ve got a problem.

I dragged my butt downstairs out of sheer obligation.  I was rewarded with this dreckitude:

Karl Sponholtz' fugly flower arrangement.

Karl Sponholtz' fugly flower arrangement.



Cathy Hobbs' disastrous sweetheart table, designed for the bride and groom.

The orange draping was a cool element, but not particularly original.


Certainly nothing worthy of fighting over, Karl.

The bar was the best part of the whole effort:



But honestly, it’s not like anyone on the show built the bar or conceived of the bar.  Having the eye and the vision to pick it out of a room full of furniture is a skill, for sure, but if you ask me, watching people shop makes for boring TV unless you’re offering tips along the way about why you select the things you take home.

Now I’m gonna go rogue here and say I hated the gentlemen’s lounge.




Don’t get me wrong, I’ll take the sofa and the chairs and some of those pendant lights and we will live happily ever after, yessiree.  But they have no relationship at all with the rest of the room’s decor.  I know, I know, the groom said he wanted dark woods, yadda, yadda, yadda.  I’m totally down with that.  To make it work though, it needs to be integrated better.  Some of these wood and mid-century elements need to be happening elsewhere in the space and some of that white nonsense needs to be happening here.  The rug is not enough.

Also, I hate the boxy pillows.  I like the idea of them but they do not say, “comfortable.” They look awkward on both the chair and the sofa.

When everything throughout the space is matchy-matchy and then you throw this eclectic mishmash of pillows and pendants into the mix, they just don’t look like they belong.  At. All. I don’t know why the judges don’t say anything about this.  Or, rather, I don’t know why Genevieve Gorder doesn’t say anything about this.  We already know the train has left the designer station with Vern Yip.

This episode was not worth watching. Except for that part at the end where the remaining cast members pretend to wish Cathy well.  That is a laugh riot.

I feel sorry for Cathy, I really do.  It’s mind-blowing that someone with all of the talent and experience she possesses can be undone by poor behavior.  After 20 years of on-camera experience, she should know better.  She should be more savvy than the average designtestant.  She should have come onto that set with the prize in her back pocket.  But since she obviously has no clue about what makes a good designer host, let me spell it out for her:


1.  Likability. If you want to be one of Bravo’s Real Housewives, you can be very successful being a bitch on TV, but if you want America to watch your decorating show or to seek out your decorating tips and advice, it is all about making people love you. And Cathy, it is very hard to love you when you are bitchy and bossy to everyone.  The fact that you–a total control freak–can’t control those impulses on camera or even seem to know that you should…well, it doesn’t speak very highly to your intelligence.

2.  Confidence. To be the voice of authority, you have to have confidence in your abilities.  There hasn’t been a single team-oriented episode all season that Cathy hasn’t been screaming, “Trust me!” or “I’ve got this!”  Beating people over the head with your accomplishments (THREE NATIONAL MAGAZINES!) or begging them to trust you, reveals a lack of true confidence.

3.  Design Chops. With the exception of Vern, you have to create gorgeous, telegenic spaces to nab a spot on design television.  I like most of Cathy’s portfolio, but I haven’t liked anything she’s done on the show.  Nothing. Not even the slightest moment.  She’s done nothing original or inspiring–or even vaguely appealing–with her fifteen minutes.

4. A Sellable POV. Your show needs a unique point of view to differentiate it from the bazillion other shows on TV.  Cathy wants to use world travel as inspiration for design, and it’s a good idea–just ask HGTV landscape designer Jamie Durie.  Jamie’s approachable style celebrates exotic destinations–and travel itself–whereas Cathy name-drops global locales, coming off as a pretentious bore.  Jamie’s approach says, “Come with me to Africa–let’s explore it together!”  Cathy’s attitude says, “The Serengeti…I’ve been there and you haven’t!”

5.  Attractiveness. If you want a lasting TV career, it pays to tone down the crazy eye and a gummy smile.  I don’t say this to poke fun at anyone’s personal appearance–no one should be ridiculed over physical flaws.  But there are some physical attributes that can prove distracting, and if you want people to notice your mad skills, you don’t want them getting hung up on exaggerated facial features.

Please, gawd, let next week’s episode be better or I may not be able to hang in there much longer.


  1. Michelle B. August 16, 2011 at 11:15 am

    I was flipping channels and didn’t see the whole thing, but what I saw sure looked like ass. I can only imagine that the couple wanted a story they could tell and pictures to show and something to laugh about with their family and friends for years to come, because the room design wasn’t doing it for me. I have to remind myself the show is less about design than it is about creating crazy, stressful challenge situations and then hoping the contestants will react in interesting, ratings-enhancing ways.

    I have to say, I’m glad it was Cathy who got the boot. I like most of the remaining designers (some more than others) and was thinking I’d be disappointed if the loser was anyone but her.

    Were you able to stay awake long enough to see the sneak preview of Dina’s Party? I don’t watch the real housewives shows, so I don’t know anything about her, but I was impressed by the way she pulled off that theme party.

  2. hannah August 16, 2011 at 11:50 am

    I was surprised that no one addressed the seating at the Sweetheart Table. That looked to be 1.5 seating, not a 2 seater, to me. What was Cathy thinking? There was no way that a bride in a full gown could sit there with her husband and not be crushed. I think the panel should have brought this up – it was a concrete element to point out to viewers.

    I would have been furious if Karl had gotten the boot. He TRIED so hard to reign in the craziness. I believed him when he said he was solving everyone’s problems. From trying to steer the groom’s lounge away from a disconnected space to dealing with drapery to drawing up the plans, he was heavily involved and tried to make it all work together. I hope this didn’t burn him out and he’s able to come back next week with a wow moment.

    Speaking of wow moments, the 1-2 day challenges are detracting from this. We want to see designers be creative, not shop. We want more Matt Locke and less Susy Homemaker.

  3. Kirsten August 16, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    The only saving grace in that room was Mark’s lighting. All the furniture could have come out of that space, and the lighting would still have made it look good.

    Hooray for Cathy being sent packing! It’s about time, and I’m glad the judges finally noticed her lack of everything. I was shocked at some of the things Cathy said during this episode. Did I really hear her say, “I planned my own wedding, so this challenge will be easy for me.” Or did she say something else? Because if she thinks she has a monopoly on wedding planning, then wow. Just wow.

    Now that she’s gone, I’m looking forward to seeing if the remaining designers can bring it on. Hopefully the rest of the season is better than what we’ve been seeing.

  4. whislerpotpie August 16, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    I just don’t buy that this was a real couple and a real wedding reception. I hate the fakeness of it all. Just have a wedding concept challenge – don’t hire an actor bride and groom.

    When the highlight of the room is a skateboards tied with zip ties…you know the rest is pure crap. Fake flowers of pure crappity crap.

  5. Shelly August 16, 2011 at 1:27 pm

    I also didn’t buy that it was a real wedding reception, and, for that matter, neither did my 12 and 10 year old CHILDREN watching with me. Yup, when the kids can raise the BS flag, you know it’s bad… They kept asking if we’d see any clips of their “real wedding”! We did stick it out in hopes that Cathy would be out & were rewarded for our patience.

    I just wonder if contestants like Cathy haven’t watched the show before. Did she notice Nina last season? Surely she wasn’t Cathy’s role model going into the competion.

    It seems like it was at about this point last season that things actually became interesting, so I will be optimistic until Monday!

  6. OkieJRB August 16, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    Yowzah, Robinowitz! That’s harsh…

    …well deserved, but harsh…

    I kept waiting for the show’s mid-point turn around…you know how the first half of the show is all about disaster and the second half is all about recovering from the disaster? Then the judges say which one recovered the best? No one recovered…

    Michelle – re Dina’s Party…the fast clips I’ve seen make it look to me like gawdy Jersey theme parties with lavish, over-the-top, too-much-going-on decor…like from the baroque era of queens (as in kings & queens, not to be confused with Queens, NY)…but then again, Robin can attest to my minimalist leanings…she laughs at my routine purging of possessions.

  7. Shelly August 16, 2011 at 8:10 pm

    BTW – thanks for the “Dance of Joy” link… Still smiling…

  8. Robin August 16, 2011 at 8:17 pm

    Michelle: I only caught about 10 min of Dina’s Party but found her decorating style too over-the-top Housewives-y for my taste.

    Hannah: I noticed that too, about the seating. If I’d been the bride, I would’ve walked up to that seat and asked, “where’s he supposed to sit?” I am also with you re more “Matt Locke” moments. He’s a designer’s designer–I think we all want to see that standard exhibited more often!

    Kirsten: When Cathy said that, we knew she was going home. The foreshadowing was just too perfect.

    Whisler & Shelly: OMG, even my cynical self didn’t think of a faux couple, but you’re right, it felt like something was off. I wondered, where do they find people who have a wedding in two days but don’t have a reception planned already? And there you go, the answer to that question.

    Juli: I actually held back…

  9. Robin August 16, 2011 at 8:19 pm

    Shelly, I watch that Matt dance every time I need a little pick-me-up. It’s so simple and poignant and funny and emotional. What an experience, eh? Talk about seizing the day(s).

  10. Robin August 16, 2011 at 8:20 pm

    P.S. You can see more Matt dances here:

  11. Eric August 16, 2011 at 10:35 pm

    Nailed it. Every time I watched Cathy all I could think was CRAZY EYES!

  12. hannah August 18, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    Also, looking again at the pictures, I think the transparent chairs were a mistake. There is nothing to anchor the tables to the floor. They look like children’s play forts, instead of regally lush.

Leave A Comment