Extreme Makeover: Home Edition’s “creepy wish list” includes kids with Progeria, Down syndrome

Once upon a time, we’d like to imagine that families in need of improved housing contacted Extreme Makeover: Home Edition to be cast on the show.

Now, for its fourth season, the show’s producers are not just sitting around waiting for sad stories to come to them. Instead, they are on the lookout for certain types of families who will make us burst into tears because of their afflictions while we watch them wallow in product-placed objects that will undoubtedly bring joy to their otherwise empty lives. Or something like that.

The Smoking Gun obtained an e.mail message sent from casting director Charisse Simonian that details her “creepy wish list,” as the site calls it. It’s not just the type of people she’s searching for that’s unsettling, but the pure joy her e.mail suggests she’d find if she discovered one of them. For example, one type of diseased kid on her wish list is described as follows:

“Congenital insensitivity to pain with anhidrosis, referred to as CIPA by the few people who know about it. (There are 17 known cases in the US -let me know if one is in your town!) This is where kids cannot feel any physical pain.”

She also wants a “family who has multiple children w/Down Syndrome (either adopted or biological),” and a family that suffered a home invasion–one that has had a lasting, damaging effect: “kids fear safety in their home now.”

This may be appalling, but at least the e.mail message does not express a desire for families willing to adopt orphans and then evict them as soon as they get their brand-new house.

ABC’s “Extreme” Exploitation [The Smoking Gun]
Apply To Be On Extreme Makeover: Home Edition Today! [ABC]

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.