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Top five home, garden shows to aid escapism

Reality television often gets a bad rap. Shows like “The Bachelor” and “Keeping up with the Kardashians” have soiled the genre with their contrived plot lines and overdone drama. However, there is a subsection of this genre that your favorite streaming service might tag as “feel-good” or “inspiring” that is underappreciated and overlooked. I am talking, of course, about home and garden reality television. Home and garden TV had its moment in the sun in the early 2000s with the airing of classic shows such as  “House Hunters” and “Fixer Upper,” but has since taken a downward turn as people move away from cable and toward streaming services. 

I love this subgenre of television; it is the pinnacle of escapist media, it feeds me endless bucket list travel destinations and it actually often produces surprisingly good characters. I am here to say that HGTV does not have a monopoly over the genre, and there are tons of hidden home and garden gems among the flood of limited series and true crime content currently on streaming platforms. Also, for all its faults, Netflix has been almost single handedly keeping the genre alive in the streaming realm. Without further ado, here are my top five home and garden reality TV picks available right now on Netflix. 

P.S.: Food and eating shows do not count, and I am not accepting opposing opinions.

5. My number five pick is a toss-up. There is another small subgenre in the world of home and garden television, what I call the organizational shows, with two stand-outs who are big fish in this very small pool. “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” and “Get Organized with the Home Edit” are both shows in which the hosts visit people and help them clean up their lives, literally. Similar to “Hoarders,” but without all the judgment and crying, both of these shows are inspiring, showcase beautiful, aesthetically pleasing displays when each project is finished and best of all teach the viewer techniques they can apply to their own lives. I am not ashamed to admit that Kondo taught me how to fold both my shirts and my pants, and I will never go back.

4. Netflix recently dropped a second season of my next pick, “The World’s Most Extraordinary Homes.” Hosted by architect Piers Taylor and actress Caroline Quentin, this show takes the viewer on a worldwide search for architectural marvels and domestic oddities. From a house built out of an old airplane, to an invisible desert house made entirely of glass, this show is escapism at its best. As an added bonus, Taylor and Quentin have a fun dynamic, and intermittent talking heads allow some personality to make its way in. The show is at its peak when Taylor sees something he loves architecturally; he draws at least one floor plan for us in every episode.

3.  This next one ventures into what I consider a sub-subgenre, competition home and garden television. “Instant Hotel” is an example of the rare Australian reality show, and it introduces more drama into the genre. Five couples who all own vacation rentals each spend a night in each other’s rental, and grade the owners on metrics such as price, location and activities. The celebrity guest judge Juliet Ashworth, famed British interior designer and hospitality expert, also weighs in to influence the couples’ final scores. Alliances, snobbery and mayhem ensue as the couples compete for an all expenses paid trip to Palm Springs, California.

2.  Though you might have seen the HGTV program “Tiny House Hunters,” I would argue that the Netflix version, “Tiny House Nation,” is even better. Hosted by actor John Weisbarth and former professional skier-turned handyman Zach Giffin, “Tiny House Nation” is wholesome and inspiring, with just the right amount of cringe. Weisbarth is the host and Giffin is the builder, and together they create completely customized tiny houses for people who often have no other option. We see a firefighter whose home burned down, a couple who were priced out of their home after nearly two decades and parents who are downsizing their home in order to send their kid to college. Though it always comes down to the wire, Weisbarth and Giffin always come through in time to welcome the homeowners to the “Tiny House Nation.”

1. Though these are all masterpieces in my opinion, my favorite Netflix home and garden show has to be “The World’s Most Amazing Vacation Rentals.” The show’s three hosts, Meghan, Joanna and Luis, travel all around the world, staying at other people’s rental properties. There is something for everyone in this show: Meghan is a designer and searches for budget properties, Joanna is a travel blogger who likes a unique stay and Luis is a Manhattan real estate agent who only stays in luxury. Another great thing about this show is the structure, because you know in each episode you will see three different properties with different locations, meal options and activities.  They also usually meet the property owner. The characters are charismatic, the properties are beautiful and best of all, the viewer can visit these properties themselves, although Meghan’s budget options are probably your best bet, as some of Luis and Joanna’s properties are crazy expensive.

Aidan was a contributor for the Pioneer Log in his first semester at Lewis and Clark and became a features editor for his second semester. He is also a member of the Ultimate Frisbee team, Model United Nations, and Psych club.
As a features editor, he hopes to direct students’ attention to events, people, and interesting details about the community they share. He also hopes to inspire fellow students to write for the Pioneer Log and contribute to its supportive journalistic environment.

Aidan is a Psychology major and English minor. In his free time, he enjoys reading, writing poetry, playing the piano, and all things comedy.

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