Last Tuesday, August 2, 2011, Picker Sisters aired on the Lifetime Television. (If you were confused by the ads showing American Pickers Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz promoting the show on the History Channel, that’s because both Lifetime and History are part of A&E Television Networks — but that really didn’t help those who went to The History Channel on Tuesday night and, confused, wondered why the TV promos weren’t as clear as they could have been.)
The show’s premise is that best friends and interior designers, Tracy Hutson and Tanya McQueen (of ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition — Picker Sisters has the same producer, RelativityREAL) are on the hunt for what Wolfe and Fritz would call “farm fresh rusty gold” to turn into “stunning pieces for their Los Angeles home decor pop-up shop.”
[I don’t want to start any rumors, but I can’t find a single reference to this shop… Or where it ever pops up. Establishing shots in show episodes feature the store front with a sign that indicates the shop is named I-10. But not only did searches find nothing, neither are there details or links at Hutson’s offical site, the official Facebook page, Tanya McQueen’s Twitter, the official Hutson-McQueen blog, etc.]
To assist the designers in the creative process, there’s a third cast member, contractor, Alan Luxmore, himself with connections to Extreme Makeover and previous host of A&E’s Fix This Yard.
Despite early complaints or fears (primarily based on the American Pickers‘ promos) that Picker Sisters was going to emphasize pretty women (including the use of short-shorts and other feminine charms in order to get deals), I was looking forward to the show. Like Cash & Cari, I was hoping this series would emphasize decorating both in terms of objects and projects; much like Cash & Cari, I was to be disappointed. As with Cash & Cari, I was hoping we’d not only have the Picker Sisters show us what they transformed, but how it was done. But it misses that mark.
Since the success of these collecting shows is partially dependent on the personality of the cast, it bears mentioning that Hutson and McQueen come across as Valley Girls meet former professional NFL cheerleaders; perhaps a bit to bubbly and hair-twirly for most of us. (And those 80’s headbands only emphasis it.)
I don’t want to bash these beauties for how they look; that would be as wrong as saying someone isn’t good-looking enough to be on TV. But there are practical matters here…
Those of us willing to pick on farms, through old industrial items, etc., we don’t only have work gloves, we wear jeans or long pants to protect our legs — no matter how fab our legs look in short shorts. I get that they are on camera, but aren’t they annoyed enough by their own Farrah Fawcett locks, blowing into their eyes, sticking to the sweat on their necks, to put it up in a ponytail or something? I’m less worried about two grown women — complete with camera crew — getting hurt heading off with strange men than I am about cuts, infections and diseases from stumbling about improperly dressed in places where tetanus and hantaviruses make excellent bedfellows.
As I mentioned, I feel that Luxmore‘s work is slighted… But perhaps that’s because he’s an actor playing a character role. In the few scenes Luxmore is in, he plays the frustrated “daddy” to the two little girls on the road, ominous about projects, money spent, design ideas. Worse, he’s shown working while appearing straight out of some Gap ad or GQ photo-shoot, his black sleeveless muscle shirt taunt across his chest, tightly and neatly tucked into crisp belted green khakis. If he’s a master of the 100 hour build, why is he playing a stock masculine character, one part beefcake one part paternal male disapproving of his errant shopping sex kittens?
Like his female cast members, Luxmore ought to dress for the work at hand. We’ll notice he’s handsome, anyway, I promise.
Overall, the show feels far more Hollywood glossy than “unscripted” (the new word for reality shows). While this may appeal to a certain part of the television audience, I feel it’s a disservice to the cast — showing them more as pretty and, due to the lack of “reality,” more bumbling than the educated and experienced people they are. Coupled with the absence of any shop or announcements of where it will appear, the pretty posing makes me feel the shop is simply a premise. Television does blur with tinsel town, you know, so it all feels too glossy, too fake…
Perhaps we’re supposed to enjoy the fashionista-fish out of water thing… But McQueen, Hutson and Luxmore are build and design heavyweights, so maybe they should have left them a little more raw and saved all the polishing for the finished project pieces.
That said, there are good things in the show…
There’s less of a monetary focus on the show; though that could simply be due to the too-small price / sold graphics.
And it is fun to see the before and afters — even if it is at sacrificing how it’s done. I consider myself a creative person, a visual person with an eye for seeing the potential in “junk” and I’m not bored with what I’ve seen so far — far from it, I’m inspired by all the repurposing of industrial items!
I won’t be glued to episodes, but I will watch more of Picker Sisters. Even if I am hoping the show format itself will undergo a transformation of it’s own.
PS Because Lifetime quickly signed on for a seven-part, one-hour series (originally entitled To Live and Buy), I’m not sure we’ll see any changes in Picker Sisters; the slick format’s likely set.
PPS Check out the comments below for more & updates!