Design Star: Death by Paint Chip | Flipping

Design Star: Death by Paint Chip

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I used to think this show -- a search for the best interior designers-slash-bubbly TV host -- was dreadfully dull, until Bravo laid its Top Design turd.

I suffered through that -- and all those big white boxes the contestants re-filled with crap from the Design Center -- and now I grudgingly admit that for all its flaws, at least Design Star shakes it up a bit.

Episode 1 churned through auditions, and allowed unctuous host Clive Pearse to debut his slimmer form. Kudos, I guess, but he still has that big Ricky Gervais head and that snooty manner. (Dig this: According to his HGTV bio, his hobby is helping with Linda Blair's animal-welfare group.)

For reasons unknown to all except perhaps the hardworking marketing team at HGTV, this year's competition -- the third – takes place in Nashville ... not exactly the first town I think of for design. Unless it's unbridled new-money interiors, like that demented honky-tonk mansion that John Rich supposedly lived in on Gone Country.

Our lucky contestants wind up on the shores of some lake, freaking out by a pile a lumber, nine beds and a budget of $100,000. "Seven days to build your home," chortles Clive. I've already guessed this is a ruse, but that would be an awesome challenge. None of them are homebuilders, and yet there they are arguing over whether there should be a second floor. It would have been like one of those Three Stooges houses, where turning on the tap causes windows to open.

But alas, Clive comes back with a party barge and floats them to their "real" home, a run-of-the-mill mini-mansion. ("I wrote a hit country song, then bought this house at Thingabob Lake out in the county.") And so, to their first real challenge: doing over a couple rooms.

From the hyper-queen Michael ("It's official: I'm amazing!"), we get one interesting color and ... a pool table?! (Fun to play, but forever tacky.) The two gals Stephanie and Jennifer buy this crazy split-log table, and then proceed to paint it. Say what?! And at judges' panel, Tracee gets all snippy and causes a flood of tears from half the contestants.

Scottie gets sent home for Sears catalog circa 1977 bedroom. Oh, the orange, the brown, the humanity!

Initially, I was disappointed there wasn't the requisite way-out-there kookster among the contestants, but perhaps I can make do with the copious weeping. On reality TV, that goes with everything.

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