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A few thoughts about Trading Spaces’ “Carpenters Strike Back” episode, the one with fire jokes

A few thoughts about Trading Spaces’ “Carpenters Strike Back” episode, the one with fire jokes
Ty Pennington talks to Paige Davis about his first room design on Trading Spaces.

The second episode of the new Trading Spaces elevated two of the show’s carpenters to designers, and while the end result was decent, as an episode, it wasn’t as smooth. There were more scenes that felt staged and forced—nothing new for Trading Spaces, but something that still just doesn’t work. Something else that doesn’t work: jokes about wildfires threatening homes.

First, the rooms: Of the four rooms we’ve seen so far, I’d rank Ty’s as easily the best, followed by Doug’s, then Carter’s, then Hildi’s.

“This is one of my favorite rooms that I have ever seen on Trading Spaces,” Paige said to Ty, and I agree. Ty’s design painted to the wall—a series of triangles—was far superior to what Hildi attempted, and not just because he kept it to one wall. The lines also looked more well-defined.

Ty’s homeowners said they didn’t want bright colors so he brought in bright colors—which seemed like an eye-rolling attempt to create drama. But the colors were subtle enough, and easily swapped out. A few neutral pillows, a few new carpet tiles, and the room is neutral.

The big surprise was the homeowners seemed to actually like it. The repurposed couch and room divider/bookshelf looked great, and so did the homemade curtains (which are another easily-swapped item).

Carter’s room—and I couldn’t watch Carter without thinking about this, and TLC’s weak response—seemed like a solid idea with weak finishes and execution. It wasn’t bad, it just didn’t come together. The ombre wall looked splotchy on TV, so I hope it looks better in real life. The desk looked proportionally off, and the dream catchers and plants he hung on the walls looked amateurish.

Not out of line for Trading Spaces, but not so refined, either. (Perhaps my expectations have been raised by other shows.) Carter told Paige he didn’t want to design again, and that’s perhaps not a bad idea, for multiple reasons.

The biggest fail of the episode, though, belonged to Paige and the producers, who were dealing with a real California wildfire that was threatening neighborhoods and homes.

Paige kept making perky comments (“If we have to evacuate, we will. Safety first!”) and jokes (“the heat is still on”), and while I’m sure her intent was not to trivialize it, those comments also didn’t work.

Meanwhile, Ty sent new carpenter Brett Tutor to Lowes to buy something/do a product placement scene, and the entire thing felt wrong, starting with the fact that the show could have just sent a PA to Lowes if they actually just needed some supplies. The fire closed a highway and apparently temporarily prevented Brett from returning, but the show just used this for a moment of tension and awkwardly stagey scenes. Ugh.

And double Ugh for what happened when Brett returned—it wasn’t clear how long he was stuck or if he and his camera crew just found another route—Ty said this: “Glad you survived the fire. Now, we have to light a fire.”

I don’t know which fire this was, but a fire that occurred near Yorba Linda last fall around the show was in production destroyed 25 houses and led to evacuations of more than 15,000 people.

Next week: Gen and Vern return, and hopefully so will the tone of last week’s premiere episode.

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About the author

  • Andy Dehnart

    Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means.

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