The way Channel 7 are selling it you’d think it was the second coming; the rapture of reality renovation television.
House Rules (the much promoted spin-off to the very successful My Kitchen Rules franchise) will indeed deliver all the elements of a good reality show (drama, conflict, success), it just doesn’t do any of them overly well.
Six teams of two (one team from each of the states) are set to compete in a competition that will pitch “state against state” in the singularly most overused catchphrase in any TV competition ever. The teams will renovate a house in seven days across a number of episodes with each team assigned a “zone” to work on concurrently and are awarded points from the judges on how well they met the brief (the “house rules”) while completing that area. The twist: the house they’re working on is owned by one of the teams, and so the owners are excused from working that week (they go “on retreat” to fret at what 10 strangers and many, many tradesmen are doing to the value of their mortgage).
It’s not that House Rules is awful – it’s not. The problem is it isn’t great. It’s mediocre. And therein lies the dilemma – given the huge amount of money invested in the series it really needs to be WOW and it’s not.
A big point is made of some of the teams having little to no renovation experience and that plays out in how they attack the house reno at hand and it made this reviewer feel uncomfortable. There is no way I’d want complete amateurs gutting my house and effectively rebuilding it with limited supervision and no skill.
There’s so much going on at once with the other five teams working in the house at once surrounded by tradies that it’s hard to keep up, so each house reno is split across multiple eps and it’s hard to maintain the energy (as much as they edit to help it remain consistent). The conflict is obvious and bubbles to the surface too freely that the renovation part seems like the B-plot. Then there’s host Jo Griggs who, as smiley as she may be, offers nothing in the grand scheme of the narrative. She’s just there to tie the show together top and bottom (she’s not even narrating). All the heavy lifting is left to the two judges and the two experts (a builder and an interior designer who are onsite to assist and direct the working teams). So, onsite as a part of the show, there’s TWELVE people that we have to keep up with plus the judges and then a host. It’s just too busy – not for the right reasons.
When you pitch two very similar shows at the same time to the viewing audience, one usually loses out big. House Rules looks to be the show that’ll end up a very distant second place to the show it’s been made to compete with.
House Rules – Tue/Wed/Thu 7:30pm, Channel 7.