They come from all over the place.
They behave as if they’re all over the place.
Especially some of the Americans, who arrive in Europe and are overcome with a patronizing nausea that European fridges are the size of wine fridges in North Carolina.
Those particular Americans know exactly what they want and they’re damn well gonna get it.
In the end, they don’t.
But they shriek a lot along the way, as if to register their resistance.
Yet still I am in love with all of this. The odd couplings, the sometimes batty realtors, the alleged conflicts between husbands and wives — or husbands and husbands and wives and wives — and the splendidly cheap cost of living in Nepal and Puglia.
House Hunters International isn’t for everyone. But it should be. This often recurring show on the Oh God I Never Watch That Channel Channel is to television what a grill is to a deck.
You might imagine it’s there just for show, but when you turn it on you remember exactly why it makes you feel good.
You’ve had a hard day doing the same thing you did yesterday, yet here are people who are dreaming of a different, perhaps better life somewhere whose name they might not be able to spell.
There are Austrian women who’ve married dubious-looking Italians and agreed to live in some small Italian village, where the locals peer at them like at cadavers in a biology class.
There are single women moving to Paris in the hope of finding love, or at least a room that fits a double bed and a one-night stand with someone called Francois. (I understand that Frenchmen called Francois a re very frank about their one-night stand penchant.)
There are surfers who are moving to Australia presumably because the waves are upside down there.
There are retirees who believe that Belize is the answer to their problems, or perhaps just their relationships.
The most joyous, though, are the bickering couples and the dissatisfied Americans.
Well, except for the the bickering American couples, who don’t like each other or, it appears, any of the houses.
These are the ones in which at least one member is impossible to please because this Godforsaken place called Spain/France/Malaysia/Costa Rica/Athens/Georgia just isn’t Athens, Georgia.
Should you have never watched this opus of human foibles, the idea is that someone is trying to rent or buy a house in a foreign country. Sometimes, it’s a vacation home, sometimes it’s permanent.
They see three properties and within 26 minutes of the show beginning, they must choose which one they’ll sink their money into.
26 minutes isn’t a long time. Especially when 7 or 8 of them are swallowed by commercials. So all these people are what a realtor would call motivated.
I assume they’re motivated by having their realtor costs paid for and appearing on television.
But the cliffhanger when they supposedly choose their house manages to walk that beautiful artistic line between compelling and fake.
Which one will they choose? Will they just go for the cheapest, so that they can “travel more around Europe,” not calculating for the fact that the cheapest house will raise their commuting costs twofold?
Or will they just choose the glamorous place in the middle of the city with absolutely no room for any relatives, should they choose to visit? From this we conclude that they’re moving countries to escape their possibly inbred families.
Then there’s the celebration. If they kiss on the mouth, they still like each other. If they kiss on the cheek, they haven’t had sex in the last five years.
Then there’s the peculiar couples who high-five. Please, I love Americans. I am one. But do they not realize that high-fiving is as emotively intimate as competitive cheerleading?
Do they not see what it says about their relationship: ‘We make a great team, just like, pitcher and catcher or, uh, jug and water”?
You’ve just bought a house in a foreign country, one in which you’re going to be creating a new life and sharing a tiny fridge. Isn’t it time to showed true togetherness?
Rumor has it that this show is fake. The houses have already been bought. The supposed options are just the houses of friends or, who knows, of the realtors themselves.
I confess that, after a while, you learn that any house they view that has stuff in it will not be the one chosen.
It’s always the empty ones — or the ones that haven’t actually been built yet.
But this is reality TV. Nothing is supposed to be entirely for real. Or even at all.
We’re here to examine the people. How they think, how they look at each other, how they express their hopes and dreams, how they refuse to even consider the idea of a toilet separate from the bathroom.
It’s different from some other reality shows. At the end, we actually see the people living in their new homes after anything from a couple of weeks to several months.
Having reached our own conclusions about the house itself and whether their relationship is going to last any longer than the lasagne we’re eating as we watch it, we still await their verdict about their new home.
We still, at some dastardly, painful level, believe. And where there’s still belief, there is love.
Having watched what must be 5,238 episodes of this seminal show, I can report that, in every single case, the protagonists say that they made the right choice, that they’re happy.
House Hunters International is, you see, not a show where we fear that an itinerant couple will make the wrong choice.
It’s a show where we examine whether the choices we made were the right ones.