Categorized | Arts & Entertainment

Framework

Dominic Piacentini

Since Survivor first aired in 2000, competitive reality TV shows have been premiering across all networks and continue to persist in today’s supposed “Golden Age of Television.” The Amazing Race is in its 26th season and Survivor is currently airing its 30th season — with another two seasons already in the works. (Competitive reality shows thrive on CBS). But who actually still watches these shows?

Well, apparently I do. This past winter, I received news that a cousin of mine would be competing in Spike’s newest reality TV show, Framework. Of Spike’s original series, you may only recognize Cops (which aired on FOX prior to 2013). Any Catch a Contractor or Jail: Las Vegas fans out there?

Framework is designed in the format of a competitive cooking show where participants spend the episode creating one dish to be judged by a panel. Except with Framework, the competitors aren’t baking quiche. They are building ping pong tables and rocking chairs.

That’s right, each week competitors were tasked with building a unique and functional piece of furniture, and the challenges incorporate various gimmicks to make furniture design an interesting spectacle to watch.

Besides my cousin Garrett (whose works on the show includes a bench made of cut-up tennis balls) and Freddy, the most despicably villainous character to ever grace television screens, the show’s stand out is Framework’s host, Common. That’s right; this show about building furniture is hosted by the Oscar-winning hip hop artist Common. While watching this show, I often found myself wondering whether Spike knew from the beginning they wanted to bring in Common or if they simply went down the list of pop-culture icons before someone finally said they’d do it. Hey, maybe Common just really loves furniture.

Besides saying things like “If there’s nobody to sit in it, then what is it for?” and “This definitely has some elements of being comfortable.” One of his weekly furniture-themed mantras is “You’re finished,” but Common’s greatest contribution may be the song he wrote for the credits opening sequence.

The song includes gems such as “Custom made rebel built on high levels — got a dig deep my will is my shovel,” “I built it and killed it—- no screw ups, just drilled it,” and “Blood, sweat and tears on the same shirt. Can’t let the pain hurt. I gave it all, gave it all for the framework.”

In most ways, this show fails — even in a genre of television that is rarely praised. It is probably the most scripted “unscripted” show ever seen, and as far as judges go we get a panel with a Simon, a Paula and a bearded meanie who offers no advice, just rude quips about how he’s better than they are. Freddy, the competitor with the strongest personality, was undeservedly dragged along through several pathetic designs to the finale (spoiler alert: where he appropriately lost) just to maintain what little uninteresting, artificial drama the show had from the start.

According to NationalTVSpots.com, Spike’s primary demographic is men aged 33-54 with a staggering difference between male/female viewership — only 30 percent of viewers are female. Playing off these depressing demographics, the show only brought in three female designers (one was eliminated in the first episode). I don’t know much about the furniture business, but I do know that there are more than three women out there building desks.

Do I recommend this show? Not really, but surprisingly, I did discover a newfound interest in furniture designs that I will, most likely, never be able to afford.

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