After reading about the lawsuit filed against ABC and the folks who produce Extreme Makeover: Home Edition five parentless siblings claim that a couple took them in, used them to get on the show and a new nine-bedroom house, then treated the brood horribly in an effort to kick them out I thought Id check out Sundays show on still other needy cases and play armchair detective. Would I be able to notice any cracks in the good will-for-show? Would the manipulation be artfully hidden? The episode was an especially hard-luck drama, in which the shows Prefab Five built a duplex for two homeless families, and also corralled a few full-time jobs for people in the process. Oh, and they created a park for the community. And redesigned a community center. And took 25 homeless-shelter denizens on a Sears shopping spree.These people dont want a handout, they want a hand up, one of the perky team girls robotically chirped at one point, showing marked cluelessness about her shows freebie mandate. I didnt doubt for a second the despairing situations of the two families, but the manipulation was rampant, unhidden and none too artful. Nearly every emotional beat choosing the families, telling them what theyre getting, then finally showing them felt rigged and forced, and the endless self-congratulatory testimonials from the design gang were almost sickening. In fact, so little was revealed of the recipients personalities, beyond tearful gratitude, that its easy to see when a shows emotional arc is mapped out in advance like a blueprint how a structurally unsound family could take advantage of the positivity parade, slip through and reap a bonanza. Its like most grand gestures done with an audience watching. Whos it really for?
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