The Extreme Makeover: Home EditionTM bus is shown ambling down the highway towards its generic Midwestern destination. Four sleek black limos follow outside the camera’s vision, waiting to escort the Extreme Makeover: Home EditionTM team after they’ve fulfilled their contractual obligations to appear on camera together and no longer have to keep up the pretense that they travel together by bus. Ty Pennington exchanges his comically exasperated tone for one of mock seriousness, which communicates to the viewer that he has made a connection with the target family’s story. His hedgehog hair seems slightly less lively than usual, a small touch the Extreme Makeover: Home EditionTM hair and makeup team thought would communicate emotional distress. He holds a VHS tape as he speaks to the Extreme Makeover: Home EditionTM team.
“Hey guys, I want to introduce you to the Taylor family,” Ty Pennington says, trying desperately to contain the Tazmanian devil within, “I think you’re going to find them pretty incredible.” He slides the VHS tape into the VHS player, which has generously been provided to the Extreme Makeover: Home EditionTM team by Sears®.
“Hey, Extreme Makeover: Home EditionTM, we’re the Taylor family!!!!!!!” the Taylor family shouts into the camera before engaging in a group hug, laughing uproariously into the camera. Extreme Makeover: Home EditionTM is drawn to families like this because it looks like even though they’ve been through so much, they always look on the bright side of things. Despite not yet learning anything specific about the family or their experiences, that lady who always wears pink already has tears streaming down her cheeks, which have been expertly placed by the Extreme Makeover: Home EditionTM hair and makeup team.
“Something told me that the Taylor family was going to be pretty incredible,” that lady who always wears pink says to the camera, wiping her eye and pretending to compose herself. Ty Pennington narrates the Taylors’ story.
“The Taylors are just your typical, everyday American family,” he begins. Every family that has ever appeared on Extreme Makeover: Home EditionTM is just your typical, everyday American family. “But they’ve been through so much.”
“Wow,” that British guy says. He almost sounds sincere.
“Jim Taylor worked at the local steel mill until it closed down two years ago. He’s been out of work ever since, but he stays busy running a Bible study out of the family’s living room.” The American public is drawn to people with religious convictions, a fact that has not escaped the producers of Extreme Makeover: Home EditionTM. “The only problem is, the living room has a gaping hole in the wall where Dorothy Taylor, the grandmother, drove her car through it. Worst part is, Dorothy was killed in the accident.” The Taylors show a picture of Dorothy Taylor that adorns the family mantle. Ty Pennington is shown holding a hat to his chest, a new prop.
“We felt the Bible study was real important to the community,” Jim Taylor says on the recorded tape. He has included footage of the Bible study, in which typical, everyday Americans shift uncomfortably in their seats and try not to look at the camera. “It just gets so dang cold in here with that hole in the wall.”
“The Bible study is obviously real important to the community,” Ty Pennington says, trying his best to sound concerned, “but it looks like it would get really cold in there with that hole in the wall. That’s no good for anyone.” The Extreme Makeover: Home EditionTM team nods in agreement. That lady in pink now appears to be sobbing.
“Pam Taylor, Jim’s wife, home-schooled their four children out of the family garage until one devastating day last August: a category three tornado tore through the Taylors’ neighborhood, destroying the garage in the process.”
“Oh my God,” that one gay guy says.
“I kept thinking, ‘What if me and the kids were in there?'” Pam Taylor says, surveying the ruins of the family garage. Extreme Makeover: Home EditionTM knows that natural disasters/acts of God hit close to home.
“Oh my God, I didn’t even think of that. What if she and the kids were in there?” that one gay guy says, looking at the Extreme Makeover: Home EditionTM team for acknowledgement. That lady who always wears pink nods and wipes more superimposed tears from her eyes.
“Alright guys, now I’m going to introduce you to the Taylor children,” Ty Pennington says, surprisingly holding it together. “The Taylor kids lost all of their school materials in the tornado. Just sucked right up into the sky like the hand of God himself. The family doesn’t feel that the local public schools match with their particular set of values, and they just don’t have the financial resources to put the kids in private school. The Taylors are concerned that the kids are going to fall behind.”
“Wow, mate. Yeah, I can imagine,” the British guy says. The producers of Extreme Makeover: Home EditionTM feel that his accent and his use of regional slang make him appear charming and approachable.
Little Jim Jr. is shown riding his bike in circles in front of the camera. The front tire is obviously flat. “I popped it jumping off a rock,” Jim Jr. says, looking away from the camera. He is then shown riding his bike over a small ramp made with a brick and a plank of plywood. It’s a pretty unremarkable bit of b-roll, but it’d be hard to spice that one up. His family cheers him on. Small-town families encouraging each other is what Extreme Makeover: Home EditionTM is all about. “We haven’t been able to afford to replace the tire.”
“Oh my God,” that one gay guy says. He is affected.
“Christmas is kind of a hard time for us,” Jim Taylor says as he videotapes Sara Taylor playing house with a roll of duct tape and prescription pill bottles. “With all of little Kimmy’s health problems, we really can’t afford to give the kids the toys they want.”
“I….love…..my….family,” 4-year-old Sara says into the camera, her eyes continually darting to the side. She is obviously looking to her mother for coaching. The producers of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition TM find this adorable. So does America.
“This family has been through so much,” Ty Pennington says, sighing heavily to communicate sympathy, “but the centerpiece of this family is really 2-year-old Kimmy.”
The camera shows 2-year-old Kimmy Taylor, who is permanently attached to a respirator. She may never breathe comfortably without it. The producers of Extreme Makeover: Home EditionTM saved her for last for all those people who thought this family’s story wouldn’t be as depressing as all the others. Those people were wrong. The producers of Extreme Makeover: Home EditionTM know that sick kids are a gold mine. The sicker the better.
“Kimmy was born 12 weeks premature,” Pam Taylor says into the camera, choking up. She wipes her eyes. Jim Taylor places his hand on her back. He’s a supportive husband. “We couldn’t bring her home for two months. With all the appointments and specialists and whatnot, this has really taken over our lives.” Despite her debilitating condition, Kimmy is shown smiling, laughing, and playing with her family. They seem to really love each other.
“God, that’s so inspiring,” that one gay guy says.
“God, I know,” that lady who always wear pink says. She puts her hand on that gay guy’s knee. The producers of Extreme Makeover: Home EditionTM scripted this moment to exploit the perceived intrinsic relationship between cosmopolitan women and gay men. The producers of Extreme Makeover: Home EditionTM have sometimes been called condescending.
“So that’s the Taylors,” Ty Pennington says, switching off the VHS player and breathing heavily, a sign that this has been one emotional bus ride. “It’s been one emotional bus ride. What d’ya say, team, can we do something for them?”
“I doubt you would have shown us that if we weren’t going to do something for them.” that British guy says, breaking character.
“I don’t appreciate your tone,” Ty Pennington says.
The Extreme Makeover: Home EditionTM team agrees to re-shoot that last part.