‘Mom Caves,’ not such cozy nests
HGTV decorator series promises mothers an ideal room to escape to
May 11, 2012
That’s the problem with HGTV’s new reality show “Mom Caves,” in which home renovators help mothers create an ideal room. Too many choices in the renovation of the rooms and in the show itself are questionable, with the result that few viewers will trust “Mom Caves” as a source of either design ideas or entertainment.
The host of the series, which premieres this Saturday, May 12, at 8:30 p.m., is Beth Stern, a TV personality and former model best known as the second wife of Howard Stern. She has the kind of striking beauty that many women try to get through plastic surgery; unfortunately, this makes her look a little like an “after” picture herself.
In each episode, Beth and a handsome TV carpenter named Jared Walker Dostie surprise a deserving mom with the news that they’re going to create a fantasy space for her. Recalling the final-reveal scenes in “Extreme Makeovers: Home Edition,” the mother’s friends and family are there as well for the announcement. This sort of like having a bunch of people show up at your house and say, “Surprise! We’re going to have a party for you in a few weeks.”
In the premiere episode, the team goes to northern New Jersey to create a walk-in closet for a working mother named Leigh Ann, who is already using a spare bedroom for that purpose. They decide to create a “master suite” by putting a door between the parents’ bedroom and the spare room.
Sharp-eyed homeowners will notice that the parents don’t have a master bathroom, which would be much more valuable if they decide to sell and much more desirable when their cute kids become pain-in-the-neck teenagers.
We question Beth’s judgment further when she says they’re going for a “celebrity inspired” look and to get that, they’re going to visit the home of Dina Manzo, a former star of “The Real Housewives of New Jersey.” Belying her description as both a “stylish supermom” and an “executive,” Leigh Ann is excited to see what she calls “a real celebrity’s closet.” The term “real celebrity” means “someone who’s famous, but not from being on a reality show.”
Dina’s walk-in is the expected garish nightmare, complete with eight chandeliers. “Believe it or not,” says Dina “they’re really inexpensive.” We believe it, or at least we believe that the person who sold them to Dina paid very little for them.
Beth and Leigh Ann then go on a shopping spree to a midrange home-furnishings store that has a product-placement deal with the show. Beth assures us that the items there “are really going to create that celebrity feel.” Looking at one chair, she says, “Oh my gosh, the price is phenomenal!” What credibility she had goes out the window.
Meanwhile, Jared decides to install a motorized shoe carousel and a display case for Leigh Ann’s wedding dress. Again, neither of these is going to be a selling point.
At the reveal, Beth shows off everything as if she’d built and paid for it herself. Leigh Ann gives all the credit to her husband, Rich ” because he somehow found out about a home-makeover show that hadn’t aired yet and nominated her for it?
In the second episode provided for review, a central New Jersey housewife named Christine gets a new kitchen. This show is meant to be a female equivalent of DIY’s “Man Caves,” about guys’ dream hideaways. Since when is the kitchen a place for a woman to get away from it all? And haven’t we seen kitchen renovations dozens of times before on other makeover shows?
Since Christine loves the beach, Beth takes her to a couple of homes on the Jersey shore. Christine gushes over the sea views, so after Jared has knocked down the wall between the kitchen and the dining room, he decides to install a porthole near the dining-room table that will cover a TV on which the family can watch videos of waves.
Jared admits that the effect causes slight seasickness, and one pities the poor real estate dealer who has to talk the porthole up to prospective buyers.
Beth and Christine shop for appropriate decor at the same home-furnishings store, which Beth praises even more extravagantly than in the premiere. And the husband again gets all the credit for no reason.
Some moms can’t afford a new cave and have to rely on shows like this for escape. “Mom Caves” lets them down.
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