Done with Design Star

By BLAINE CRIMMINS, bcrimmins@acnpapers.com

Published: Tuesday, August 3, 2010 4:19 PM CDT
Though it’s a little embarrassing to admit, I’ve been sucked into the past few seasons of HGTV’s “Design Star” reality show. My wife likes it, so that’s one reason, but I’ve also enjoyed the personalities of the contestants and seeing what they’d come up with week to week.

Last season was particularly interesting, as I latched on to a clear favorite early in the show and rode out the competition for a couple months hoping he’d win, which he did. I’ve written about my man Antonio in this space before.

But no more! This year’s edition of the show sucks. New producer, new look, bad result.

The show has been transplanted from suburban Los Angeles to Manhattan. The challenges have gone from being room-makeovers and useful renovations to gimmicky games wrought with corporate promotion.

The worst part is the contestants. Unlike 2009, when any of the final four seemed worthy of having their own show, no one in this year’s crop seems to have much talent at all.

Bereft of a contestant who has the right blend of inspiration and know-how, I chose Alex Sanchez as my favorite because he simply seemed more competent than the others.

After watching Alex finish a project one of his teammates had to abandon because he shot himself in the hand with a nail gun, I thought, “Oh, look! There’s a guy who can build something without screwing it up. I like him.”

Alex also was the guy who noticed that another teammate had affixed her crown molding upside down, well into the second wall. Both of those teammates, Michael and Casey, are still alive in the competition but Alex is not. He was booted on Sunday in what looked to me like a conspiracy.

Granted, Alex had the least personable camera style of the five that remained, and he wasn’t likely to win the whole thing as a result. That’ll probably be Courtland because he’s the only one with a personality strong enough to carry his own show.

But Alex got screwed in the elimination. With four contestants on the hot seat, the judges chose to focus on the last two finishers from each team, instead of simply the bottom two of four, as determined by criteria I won’t explain here.

So, rather than be judged against his talentless teammate Michael, who in my opinion conspired with Casey to squelch Alex’s influence on their stupid kitchen photo-shoot project, he went up against Emily, a cute, bubbly blonde woman whose previous professional experience played into this week’s challenge.

Alex had a shot of beating Michael but no chance against Emily. It’s like the producers were hell-bent on getting rid of him, perhaps because he just wasn’t wacky enough to be entertaining.

Thus, I’m done with “Design Star.” I might watch again this year after Michael and Casey are eliminated but we’ll see.

The show just isn’t the same anymore. In fact, it’s now more like other reality competition shows, most of which are terrible. And given Alex’s demise, it doesn’t seem fair either.

By the way, Antonio’s show has gone through various scheduling changes this year, and HGTV has been cagey about why. I wrote an e-mail to the network months ago inquiring about the show’s status, to which an auto-reply indicated I’d hear back from someone. In my mail, I mentioned I’m a newspaper reporter/blogger, and wanted to share what I learned with my readers. They never wrote me back.

The next season of “The Antonio Treatment” debuts Aug. 15. Watch it. But blow off “Design Star.”

Blaine Crimmins is the community editor of The Colony Courier-Leader. He may be reached at bcrimmins@acnpapers.com.

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