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Commentary: TLC didn’t stich together a winner with ‘Craft Wars’

Courtesy of MCT

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In a world that recently gained Pinterest, a website that allows users to “pin” cute “do-it-yourself” ideas, recipes, wedding plans and more to virtual bulletin boards, a show about crafting was perhaps to be expected. And so comes “Craft Wars,” a show that gives the kind of people who actually make all of those DIY projects from Pinterest a place to show off their “skills.”

“Craft Wars” premiered on TLC Tuesday night, and my inner sorority girl/kindergartner/DIY project master wannabe told me I should check it out. Amazingly enough, finding out that Tori Spelling hosts the show did not scare me away, although it did make me shudder.

I spent the entire premiere of “Craft Wars” trying to decide if I loved it or hated it. I was intrigued by what the crafters would create, but in the end, the whole thing just seemed unnecessary.

I think the first part of the show I questioned was when Spelling called the panel of judges “crafting experts.” What exactly is a crafting expert? A beloved kindergarten teacher? A nanny? A Pinterest addict? A scrapbooking stay-at-home mom?

Apparently it’s a team made up of the author of DIY book “P.S. I Made This…,” founder of Glitterville Studios gift company, and a consultant for Michael’s arts and crafts store.

The second part of the show to make me roll my eyes came when Spelling described it as “one of the most vicious battles ever televised.” After one episode, maybe I’m jumping the gun by disagreeing with that statement, but I find that hard to believe. Will there be blood? Shootouts? Stabbings? Sure, these elements might make the show more interesting, but I doubt I’ll find them here. Shows like “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” probably have more vicious battles than something called “Craft Wars,” despite having the word “war” in its name.

I didn’t have to wonder for long how a competition could be crafted from…well, crafting. Spelling described the show’s premise as two challenges: the pop craft challenge and the master craft challenge. First, the three competitors had to create a duffel bag out of sports equipment, including basketballs, pom-poms, and tennis rackets. Then one would be eliminated, leaving two to compete for the $10,000 prize by creating a playhouse for children made out of school supplies.

I was hoping the show wouldn’t be so ridiculous in that maybe some of the crafts could actually translate to something an average viewer could create themselves. Perhaps future episodes will be more realistic, but I don’t know anyone who would take the time to fashion a duffel bag out of a cheerleading uniform or a playhouse out of school supplies. However, I suppose if the point of the show is to go above and beyond the “average” craft, they accomplished that much.

Spelling added unnecessary intensity throughout by ordering the contestants to “drop the bags” as if she was a police officer busting a shoplifter, and using the line “Pack up your glue gun, you’re done in this craft war” to dismiss the first loser.

Adding to my discontent with Spelling playing host, her bad puns killed me. It was almost as if the crafts were chosen on whether or not she could come up with a cheesy pun to go along with it. I guess the “sporty judges” had to “huddle” about the sports bags, and they had to create “report cards” following the school supplies playhouse challenge…but these puns just made me cringe.

Following the typical selection of TV judges, one of them played the mean girl, criticizing everything the crafters brought to the table. She brought insincere compliments paired with fake smiles and instant jabs at the contestants’ craftsmanship, making me liken her as the Simon Cowell of the bunch. Also following the classic “American Idol” judge mold, there was another sassy judge for her to argue with, so they could make jokes about wishing the other one wasn’t around anymore.

In a television age where reality shows and competitions reign supreme, I understand the drama incorporated into the show. Maybe the producers think it makes for good TV, but as a viewer, it just makes me annoyed.

Sitting at home, it’s easy for me to be critical of uneven stitching or ugly patterns, but it seems like this show’s goal is to thrive off of putting the contestants down and making them nervous as they complete the challenges. However, I’d like to be genuinely interested in what these people can create, and for me, Spelling’s reminder that time is running out, or that judges hate things like dangling glue strings and unfinished products takes away from watching the creations unfold.

As a fan of other TLC shows like “Trading Spaces” and “What Not To Wear,” I love shows that take boring or out-of-touch things, like rooms or wardrobes, and make them fabulous. But another thing I love about those shows is the positive attitude toward creating a look that is really special.

I wish “Craft Wars” was less about the competition and the judges’ egos, and more about realistic crafts that I could create in my own time.

 

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