Pop Culture Happy Hour: HGTV And Cooking Shows

Sep 9, 2016

BEFORE WE BEGIN: West Coast Party People! Tickets to the PCHH live shows in October, featuring amazing guests, are on sale now — but they're going fast. Here's where we stand, as of this morning:

Seattle feat. Audie Cornish: October 17

Portland feat. Audie Cornish: October 19

San Francisco feat. Mallory Ortberg: October 21 - SOLD OUT

Los Angeles feat. Kumail Nanjiani: October 23 - ONLY STANDING ROOM LEFT

Don't dawdle! Don't shilly-shally! Don't laze or lollygag! Get them now!

Home decorating shows. Home renovation shows. Shows in which homes might get loved and/or listed — well and truly flipped, or thoroughly, irrevocably flopped. Shows featuring toothsome twin brothers with opposing agendas. Shows hosted by charming married couples who bicker charmingly. Shows where entitled monsters hunt houses, both domestically and internationally, while blathering about "open concept" this and "granite countertops" that.

To tune into the cable channel HGTV is to drink from a firehose of Wouldn't It Be Awesome If We Lived ... (In the Caribbean! By a lake! On a mountain! In a log cabin! In a tiny house! In a tiny log cabin on a mountain by a lake!)

This week our intrepid host Linda Holmes, NPR Code Switch's Kat Chow, Weekend Edition editor Barrie Hardymon and I gathered around the microphones to pick apart — in a slightly more freewheeling discussion than our usual — the appeal of these addictive, strangely soothing yet frequently maddening shows. What does a show like Property Brothers have in common with Law & Order? What insights can you convince yourself you gain about a couple's relationship by watching them exchange vapid observations about the size of a toilet?

From there, we take what is only a short hop over to cooking shows. Soooo many cooking shows. Top Chef, in all its incarnations. Chef's Table. Chopped. Barefoot Contessa. Pioneer Woman. The late, lamented Good Eats. Iron Chef. Bizarre Foods With Andrew Zimmer. Hell's Kitchen. Master Chef Junior. Restaurant Startup. The Great Food Truck Race. America's Next Great Restaurant. Julia Child. Many many more we didn't get to, likely outraging you.

We wind up, as we do every week, with What's Making Us Happy: I am happy about an audiobook (read by Wil Wheaton!) ... to a richly illustrated book, which is also pretty great. Kat recommends a lovely science fiction short story that's received a great deal of acclaim. Barrie is happy that she's finally cracked comics (read: she's trained herself to read a given comic as a comic, and not as words-with-pictures), especially those of Alison Bechdel and Raina Telgemeier. And Linda is happy about this little gem of a "lost" song from Hamilton, as well as an everything-old-is-new-again political documentary.

Find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter: the show, Linda, me, Kat, Barrie, producer Jessica, and producer emeritus/music director/pal-for-life Mike.

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