The Closet Script

Will and I have a pretty steady evening ritual. He cooks dinner (with me acting as sous chef) and then we bring plates and napkins over to the couch where we eat in front of the laptop, our favorite shows streaming on Hulu. There are certain shows we never miss (The Office, Parks & Recreation), some we catch when the location is interesting (No Reservations), and a lot of HGTV-type shows as filler in between. Lately, it’s been a lot of filler.

Now, I love the bejeezus out of HGTV. My family will call one another when our beloved city, Chicago, is featured in House Hunters or My First Place. In college, my friend Jen and I worked our class schedules around Trading Spaces (which, yes, I know, was on TLC but whatever, it’s home-and-garden-y and yes, I know I just outed myself as someone who went to college before the advent of Tivo). Home and Garden is my thing. Big time.

There’s just this one small thing about the people who show up, episode after episode, on shows centered around the couple-finds-new-house premise. I call it The Closet Script. The scene replays itself, invariably, the moment the couple first lays eyes upon the master bedroom closet.

If closet is deemed “small” – Man (to Woman): Oh no! Where will you put all your shoes?

If closet is deemed “large” – Man (to Woman): Wow, this might actually hold all your clothing!

This is not to say that just the male homeseekers are quick with the cheap laugh-lines. The script can be flipped. A Woman-Seeing-a-Small-Closet may tell her Man he needs to find space elsewhere in the home for his clothing as she needs the entire small-master-bedroom-closet for her shoe collection. Conversely, a Woman-Seeing-a-Large-Closet will exclaim, “My clothes might actually fit in here!”

(Cue Laugh Track)

We get it. Women have a lot of shoes. Women have more clothing than men. Women, well, women be shopping.

I’m not going to get into whether or not the stereotype has basis in fact as the who-has-more-shoes game has a different winner in each relationship. Any truthfulness behind this eye-rolling comment is not the point. The point is that it’s predictable.  It’s trite. It’s adding about as much to the dialogue as another comment on Boehner’s tan or Trump’s hair.

Now, I know that people agreeing to be featured on national television undergoing what is, arguably, one of the most stressful purchases they will ever make are not likely looking to advance the gender equality dialogue. They are likely going for a quick chuckle or a playful punch-on-the-shoulder (coy, knowing winks optional). The issue is that they know they can get it with a one-liner about how the lady-half of the equation more lady-stuff than the closet in question may hold. The issue is that this tired jab never seems to end up on the cutting-room floor. Both homebuyers and the HGTV editing staff know to lean on the “women be shopping” line for a quick moment of levity.

I’m not advocating any kind of drastic action here. Lord knows I could never boycott HGTV. I’m only suggesting that we think before resorting to stale laugh lines.

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About Helena

Helena lives in Chicago with her boyfriend and two cats. Her boyfriend thinks she's awesome. Her cats agree.

Posted on May 26, 2011, in Pop Culture Commentary and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. “The issue is that this tired jab never seems to end up on the cutting-room floor.”

    You’re so right. Trite, it is.

    Now, I put you in charge of making HGTV stop doing this. I’m sure that you’ll think of some way to make it so. 😉

  2. Matthew has roughly as many pairs of shoes as I do, and more t-shirts than I can count. Our sides of the closet are roughly equal. He’s no fashionista, but he loves his Chucks and his geeky/Disney t-shirts.

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