We watch... so you don't have to.

"Trading Spaces?" Forget It.

Everybody loves Trading Spaces. Everybody but me, and I've never seen it. And at the risk of being unfair, not only do I not want to see it, the very idea sort of fills me with loathing. I tried to watch it once, but I turned the television off just before it started.

I'm not sure why. I mean, it's not like I have terrifically high standards for television. In fact, as has been thoroughly documented, I'll watch pretty much any damned thing, up to and including Relic Hunter. And yet Trading Spaces just makes me shudder.

On the off-chance that you know even less about the show than I do, here's the lowdown: Neighbors swap houses and each redecorates one of the other's rooms. Got that? Neighbor A redecorates one of Neighbor B's rooms, and vice versa. There's a budget of $1,000. I don't know why that's so important, but it's mentioned prominently in every synopsis of the show, so I assume there must be some reason anyone cares. The only other show that tells you its budget is Win Ben Stein's Money.

I don't know much about the regular cast. I gather that there are a couple of designers whose job it is to bully people into ruining their neighbors' houses. In the real world, designers have to work with the owners of the property. There are compromises. On this show, not only do the property owners not get a say, but even the neighbors don't really seem to get any input. And now that I think about it, since it's a television show, I imagine the designers were selected for their outgoing personalities and varied ideas. Which pretty much translates to being the design equivalent of insane magpies.

There are also some women on the show. A lot of the Internet talk that has come to my attention has centered on the idea that these women are attractive. There are probably creepy websites about them. Now, for all I know, these women fulfill a very important role on the show. But the only context I ever hear about them is "Woo! Them girls sure is sexy! Hyuk! I'd sure like to trade some spaces with that one, if you know what I mean!" And that's just gratuitous. As a general rule, I don't like shows where people appear for no reason other than their physical attributes. It's like suddenly discovering that a lot of people are watching Wheel of Fortune because they're really into Vanna White.

Part of my problem with the show could be the anecdotes about people breaking down in tears after seeing what's been done to their houses. There's something sort of intimate about letting strangers into your home, let alone allowing them to change things. So when people see that their family room is now filled with brightly-colored balloons and their hardwood floors have been covered with a groovy shag rug, it seems like they'd feel violated. And I don't think I want to watch that.

I can't help but picture what must happen to these poor people after the show's over. What do you do when most of your house looks normal except for one room that's straight out of a harem? I guess it would be fun for a little while, but after you've shown it to everyone you know, what then? How would you explain it to casual visitors? How on earth would you sell a house like that? I mean, a prospective buyer is going to look at you suspiciously if you try explaining that you let your home get ruined because of a television show. That's not very different from getting an obscene picture tattooed on your face to get on Jerry Springer. It might make sense at the time, but just try explaining it a year later at a job interview.


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