Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Downsized: Season Two Premiere 8/16/11

Season two of Downsized premiered on WeTV tonight. While Todd was offered a job n Missouri, it fell through and the family was stuck in their tough financial situation.

The first move to bring in cash was mom Laura taking a job as a waitress with daughter Bailey. Heather, Todd's daughter, along with many of the other kids also work.

Bailey took a jump and bought a car with her savings. The seller asked $2,800 for the car Bailey wanted, and she bargained him down to $2,700. Bailey's mom and brothers were appalled - they weren't convinced that she got a great deal. Laura called Todd, and it turns out that neither parent knew that Bailey was going to go out with Heather to buy one without their input. Todd told Bailey that she did a good job, but said in the confessional that it's a piece of junk.

The House Discussion

Todd noted that since the family has so many cars now, which could make them incur fines from their homeowner's association, they need to buy a house. Todd said this would help Laura build credit since it would be in her name, and they could potentially pay less in a mortgage than they would in rent.

Laura was unconvinced about buying a home so soon after their foreclosure experience. Because of this, Laura and Todd went to see their financial planner. During this meeting, the family shared the news that the down payment for the house would come from income earned for being on Downsized.

With this statement, the show's intent became questionable.

The point of Downsized was to show a family building their way up after a financial crisis. While I fully believe that the family should earn money for their appearance on reality television, it kind of kills the point of the show. The family obviously isn't as wealthy as they once were, but I'd hardly say that they dug themselves out of the hole in an authentic way. (You know, working for a living like the rest of us.) The season opened by telling us that the family no longer uses food stamps, and plays it off like they dug themselves out of the hole through hard work and determination. But really, WeTV was what pulled them out of financial ruin. It was luck, not work, that did it.

Anyway, despite Laura's wishes, Todd told the kids that he wanted them to look at a house that he was interested in purchasing. It was a fixer-upper, at the very least - it needed a ton of work. The house was listed at just under $200,000, and while it could potentially save money on a monthly basis, it was smaller than their current house and required a lot of work. And, Todd wanted to buy it with 10% or less down, although it would be smarter to wait and buy it with at least 20% down, given the past financial troubles. In the end, Laura gave in to Todd's wishes and decided to make an offer on the house. Then, she felt uncomfortable about it. It felt like we were going through a rinse, repeat, rinse, repeat dishwasher cycle or something.

In this episode, we found out that Bailey and Johnny broke up. They have parking spots next to each other at school, which made parking Bailey's new car each day awkward. We also some of the boys pile dirt into a truck for $50. This part of the show was beyond unexciting. Then we saw Rex suffer from allergies and get picked up by an ambulance. While the show was weak, it did show the family that despite their recent surge of cash for appearing on reality TV, buying a house might not be the best idea when they could be facing major medical expenses.

Takeaways

I think Downsized has run its course and could have ended with season one. It was novel, in a sense, to watch a family try to build themselves back up after a financial crisis, but now we're just watching a family. A normal, unremarkable family. I could sit in anyone's house and see the exact same thing.

Todd and Laura deliberating between owning and renting a home was mundane, at best. It can be tied up in a quick summary:

Laura: A house would be bought on my credit. I'm not ready. We don't have enough money. We're in survival mode.
Todd: No, no, no! I want a house now with the $18,000 we have! I found a fixer upper and I WANT IT!!! We are getting fees for having cars parked in the street so we should move!

Overall, this show was a waste of time. I enjoyed the beginning of season one, but midway through the season, the show got boring...and continued the trend of boredom into season two.

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