I was pretty sure I had written about Nadia G on the blog before but apparently I haven’t. Well, today I correct that oversight. Nadia G’s Bitchin’ Kitchen is easily one of the best cooking shows on TV, hands down. If you haven’t seen it yet go watch an episode, and then watch about 3 or 4 more; that’s about how long it took me to warm up to it. Bitchin’ Kitchen has all the trappings of a cookie cutter TV show but it also has bits of deadpan humor and surreal comedy. First I thought it was stupid, then I thought it was insane, and then I thought it was genius. What’s great about Bitchin’ Kitchen is that it aspires to be way more than a cooking show. BK works within the format of a typical cooking show but also acknowledges that typical cooking shows are really boring. Who says you shouldn’t have a close-up of the host’s shoes in every episode? Who says you can’t obsess about jet packs for an entire season? In a medium that seemed to be thin on creativity, Nadia G made something truly bold and brilliant.
Running parallel to this, my misgivings about the DIY Network are well documented on the blog. Basically, I love that such a channel exists, but I hate almost everything they do. There’s almost no time in any show dedicated to design decisions and why they were made. In spite of the “DIY” label, in every show the homeowner has help from a full-time contractor, but there is scarcely a passing reference to a design professional. On top of all that, there’s almost no useful information on how to do anything yourself. To make things worse, promising projects (such as Made in Milwaukee) are buried under carbon copies of the same show (Holmes on Holmes, Holmes Inspection, Holmes Makes it Right and Rescue My Renovation are all the exact same show. Ditto for Yard Crashers, Bath Crashers, House Crashers, Kitchen Crashers, I Hate My Kitchen, I Hate My Bath and on and on and on).
So imagine my excitement when Nadia G gave me something I didn’t even know I wanted: Nadia G hosting a home renovation show! The other night I got more enjoyment out of a few of Nadia G’s Sick Kitchens than I have out of anything on DIY or HGTV to date. In the very first clip she talks about taking inspiration from the existing apartment and executing a coherent design concept. Wait, a coherent design concept? I thought that the best design happens when “homeowners allow a room in their house to be completely transformed according to the whims of online users”? (the actual description of the monumentally stupid Run My Renovation) In the second clip she talks about basic ideas about efficient space planning. In the third clip she gives some (gasp!) actually useful advice for DIYers: how to paint evenly-spaced stripes around the perimeter of a room. In the fourth clip she acknowledges that sometimes it’s smart to hire a professional. I could go on, but suffice to say that each of the nine clips (most under 3 minutes) has more information in it than any given half-hour of programming on the DIY network. Oh, and they’re hilarious. See for yourself [http://www.ulive.com/playlist/sick-kitchens-with-nadia-g]
Perhaps the most inspiring thing about this show is that the end product is actually worth talking about. I barely have an opinion on any of the spaces created on most other home renovation shows. They’re all shoulder-shrugging, people-pleasing every-spaces that anybody could live with. That’s all well and good for resale value, but real design is about creating a space unique to the people who live and work in it every day. Nadia G’s first Sick Kitchen is something that some people will love and some people will hate. Good! You’re allowed to hate things! At least Nadia G gives consideration and justification to each aspect of the design, and as long as the client is happy with the space then it’s good design.