Television Review | ‘Spouse vs. House’ (Bravo via nytimes.com)

You Say Man Cave, I Say Good Taste
By GINIA BELLAFANTE

If Bravo is the network devoted to baroque expressions of coastal affluence, TLC exists as its spirit cousin and opposition: a cable channel committed to the ostensibly bizarre habits of non-elites. Producers take us from Pennsylvania to Arkansas to Utah and to other places that are neither West Hollywood nor East Hampton to uncover overbreeders (“19 Kids and Counting,” “Kate Plus 8”), polygamists (“Sister Wives”), addicts of household flotsam (“Hoarding: Buried Alive”) and the strange people who submit their young children to spray tans (“Toddlers & Tiaras”). Bravo ridicules the world of the well to do; TLC, instead, implicitly makes fun of the idea that those hoping to avoid encounters with creepiness or bad taste are safe beyond the realm of four-ply cashmere.

Marriages are tested by home renovations in “Spouse vs. House,” beginning on Wednesday on TLC.

“Spouse vs. House” (beginning on Wednesday) is TLC’s latest reality series, a real estate “Pygmalion” that attempts to correct for the design lapses of average couples who have not yet seen fit to appoint their kitchens with energy-efficient stainless-steel appliances. The show is meant to chart the course of marital negotiation, but at its heart it feels compelled to explore the ineptness of middle-class husbands to absorb the aesthetic and behavioral lessons of the upper classes.

In each episode the series submits a couple in an undistinguished house to a makeover agenda. Man and wife are separated for three weeks as the husband is entrusted to renovate three rooms with a $25,000 budget. The husbands do the work themselves, demolishing walls and laying tile.

Full feature via The New York Times Media

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