I need therapy after the first episode of “Interior Therapy” aired this past week on Bravo. Besides an intrinsically flawed premise – interior designer and assistant drop everything for five days, move in with their clients, install a superintendent and crew on sight to work around the clock to deliver a remodel at the end of their five day stay – REALLY? Flawed premise aside, ideally, the creators of the show want to introduce a new show with a spectacular season-opener. Flawed premise? Meet lack luster first episode. Oh, I see you two know each other.
To be clear, I am a fan of Jeff Lewis – the personality, anyway. Handsome, fastidious, neurotic, unyielding attention to detail – what’s not to love? However, this first project was a disaster on several fronts. Jenni Pulos returns as his put upon but resilient assistant and as always, his housekeeper, Zolia Chavez, tags along for acerbic comic relief. Shouldn’t Zoila be able to have her own housekeeper at this point? Anywhoo…
If the word therapy is indeed in the title of the show, yet the only therapeutic aspect is a (thankfully) brief shopping excursion involving an emasculated husband and a thoroughly unpleasant ‘housewife,’ one might reconsider the content or at least the show title. The fact that the warring couple may have reached a compromise by acquiescing to allow Jeff to select the bed for their master bedroom could hardly be considered a worthy, series-naming, therapeutic activity.
The bigger problem was the lack of content ANYONE could take away from the show. Virtually NO viewer could gain any useful knowledge from anything that happened on the program. There was nothing that remotely resembled a real world design project. Even the wealthiest clients I have had or known would never expect me to live in their home during the project (I know, everyone needs a gimmick). There are also few clients that would or could afford to have the building process condensed into five short (or long), days nor would they want to risk the harried pace leading to mistakes, accidents or compromises in craftsmanship – some of which were evidenced during this first endeavor.
Obviously, all of the design decisions were made prior to the staged first meeting. All of the building materials were ordered ahead of time along with the plumbing fixtures, light fixtures, custom cabinetry, stone slabs and hardware. Building permits were applied for and issued, building and demolition crews were organized along with movers, tile setters, plumbers, electricians, drywall hangers and finishers, trim carpenters, wallpaper hangers and painters et cetera.
All this background preparation with not even the slightest reference by the hosts. Really? Then there was the complete absence of any reference to a budget figure which one would easily have had to quadruple to achieve a fete resembling the remodel presented in a mere five days.
The only component of the project that appeared legitimately impromptu were the furniture selections, as they did not look custom nor expensive (after all, this was a home in an affluent Los Angeles suburb). I do not even need to discuss the butchering of the walls in the stairwell to allow the headboard to enter the space – over a few inches. The scale of the wallpaper on the bed wall was completely wrong. It was installed on the shortest of the four walls containing two windows and featuring the tall headboard (I will not even discuss my disdain for accent walls). The bed linens looked like they came out of a bed-in-a-bag. I noticed a shot of Jenni steaming the towels. First, um, ewww; they should have been laundered. Second, she needed to run the steamer over the bed linens as well!
Now, this is not an attack Jeff Lewis piece. I am a professional interior designer. As such, I just have had enough of the Johnny-come-lately, flavor-of-the-month, I-am-not-a-designer-but-I-play-one-on-TV, hybrid handing out advice. This is a modern day variety show, “The Rosie O’Donnell Show” (first talk show, not the most recent permutation), of shelter television and it should be presented as such – NOT as an interior design offering. This is my humble (and occasionally preachy) opinion, but it is high time that a little reality finds its way into ‘reality TV!’