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In the News: Observing, Not Doing It Yourself

A recent New York TImes article, "If I Had a Hammer, I Wouldn’t Watch TV" by Michael Grimes, looks at the DIY movement through a most passive of pastimes — the television. Grimes spent an entire day watching the DIY Network, which is affiliated with two other get-up-and-do-it stations, the Food Network and HGTV. From the high class of This Old House to the writer's obvious boredom with knitting show Knitty Gritty (all right, yes, how exciting can a show about knitting really be?), a full day of DIY programming was critiqued from the safe confines of Grimes's recliner.

The obvious irony in this is that while do-it-yourself programs and books are meant to inspire ordinary people to pick up a power drill and get cracking, often the books, TV shows, and instructions never make it past the stage of observation. There's also, of course, something very seductive about watching a two-month-long kitchen remodel happen in the space of an hour. It's so much cleaner, cheaper, and less time consuming. On the other hand, it also means that the only home that's going to look any different is the one on your television screen.

To find out more about this article, as well as the DIY Network,


With perhaps a tinge of sarcasm and the regret of a few poorly executed DIY projects behind him, Grimes observes, "In the world of DIY all measurements are precise, and all edges fit. No one bends a nail. Couples do not bicker. The tools are top quality, the hosts genial and omniscient. This is a world in which all problems get solved."

As an occasional DIY Network watcher, I know that there's a sweetness and sincerity to the shows' hosts and content that may strike some (including this NYTs writer, as cloying. I see it in exactly the opposite way though. These shows provide smart, commonsense advice on transforming your home and garden. It's always easier to sit back, turn on the tube, and start critiquing. It's much harder to pick up a hammer and actually get to work. With the DIY Network, that job becomes easier and more enjoyable. There's nothing wrong with that.

Check out one of my favorite DIY Network hosts, Ahmed Hassan, in the clip below.


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