(Thx to faces of fibromyalgia on facebook (01/28/2011) for the above image)
2 caveats to start: 1) I don’t watch (un)reality shows: who is out to out do someone; how much weight people publically lose; rich people with petty problems; some usual minor celebrity’s search for a new bff or love; running the gauntlet; chasing rainbows; flipping houses; etc. ad nauseam hold no appeal to me. 2) The title of the tv show should be “handyperson” as there is usually at least one woman vying for the title.
Canada’s Worst Handyman is the first (un)reality show that I have actually watched more than 1 full show! The best I had done before was one-half an episode here and there of beauty and the geek. I’m currently involved in Series One (every night on a local channel) and Series 4 (most recent?) weekly. I discovered it during the height of my flu (another blog entry about that next) this week: feverish, in pain, barely able to crawl from the bed/couch to bathroom, I stumbled into the tv room, grabbed the remote and hit power. On came the show: funny, engaging and endearing, and educational.
A person is nominated by their partner/spouse, friend, co-worker or relative based on their inability to do simple home repairs. The nominee and the nominator must work as a team to complete diy challenges; projects such as installing a lighting system, putting up drywall, laying flooring, “gluing” up tiles on a wall, etc. Each year the actual project space is different; this year the handy people are renovating (or destroying) a frat house.
The most improved handyperson in each show gets to be the foreman/forewoman/foreperson (?) of the group project on the next episode; the worst has to hang his/her/their picture on the outside wall of the Canada’s worst handyman tool shed. Eventually, one of the five “competitors” is chosen as Canada’s worse handyman.
The group projects are usually done out-of-doors doing things like building a picket fence, designing and constructing a dog house, a picnic table, etc.
In each episode there are several challenges; two professional handy people give instructions, stand back and watch the mayhem, and then critique (usually very gently as this is, after all, a Canadian show) the results. There is a host/narrator, Andrew Younghusband, who steps in when things get too ugly to point out the proper tool or procedure. He also provides insights into how each project SHOULD be approached.
The contestants run through all age ranges, and as I said, there is always at least one woman nominated, as well as female assisting spouses. Glamo(u)r, good looks, and charisma are not the key factors: bad handy work, a unique or quirky personality, and a willingness to take criticism as well as praise seems to be the criteria. Folks look “ordinary,” when you see their homes (complete with their attempts at dyi), they are typical family-style homes or reasonable apartments: no mansions or penthouses here.
In true reality show style, there is a “confessional” video booth which in this case is always some form of a toilet or outhouse. And, there is some cursing (very little bleeping in Canadian tv), anxiety, anger, and angst among the couples, but no divorces/separations have arisen as far as I know from squabbles over plaster or a circular saw. Sometimes the partner is fairly handy; other times they are equally inept.
There doesn’t appear to be an American equivalent; too bad, but then, this show is typically Canadian: low-key, gentle, amusing, and creative. It doesn’t follow the American Idol or Survivor model. If you have satellite tv maybe you could find the Canadian Discovery channel and enjoy. While you’re at it, check out another gem (which appears on American tv) Dirty Jobs.