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'Extreme Makeover: Home Edition' scales back: Sign of the times

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Ty-Pennington

Image Credit: Donna Svennevik/ABC“I think our hearts were in the right place, but we just got carried way. It can be extreme without being the biggest house you’ve ever seen.” That’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition interior designer Tracy Hutson explaining the ABC reality show’s new directive to the Wall Street Journal. According to the article, a handful of the more than 140 families who’ve appeared on the show have struggled to pay the higher utility bills or tax assessments for their grander homes, and/or have fallen behind on higher mortgage payments after choosing to tap the equity of their spacious new digs. At least one home fell into foreclosure. So, the producers have gradually made changes to accommodate the economy we’re all now facing. Houses are averaging a less-garish 2,800 to 3,000 square feet, swimming pools are only being added if the family has physical therapy needs, things like solar paneling and low water-flow toilets are being installed, and the landscaping is matching, well, the landscape. (“We’re not going to New Mexico, the desert, and trying to put sod down,” executive producer Conrad Ricketts said.)

The show getting “carried away” with its original goal — renovating homes for deserving families — was attributed to the generous donations and ambitious builders that flocked to the program after it became a hit, as well as producers trying to deliver dramatic television. “Like many homeowners in the nation, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition families aren’t immune to the current state of the US economy,” a rep for the show says in a statement to EW. “EMHE has always strived along with our volunteer builders to create not only ‘extreme’ homes, but homes that work for the owners for years to come. As always, we are striving to build greener, more affordable and environmentally responsible homes, and redoubling those efforts for years to come. We’re proud that we’ve been able to help over 140 families get a new start.”

Has a less extreme makeover affected your enjoyment of the show? Or have you not even noticed?

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