By Michael Slezak
October 19, 2007 at 11:20 PM EDT

Happy birthday to Ty Pennington (left), host of Extreme MakeoverHome Edition, a popular show that (from what I can gather) offers pimped-outmansions to folks who’ve survived unspeakable crises. It’s also a show thatmakes me cringe and hiss at the television whenever I stumble across its lastfour or five minutes, right before Desperate Housewives airs. Maybe it’s allthe screaming (I hate when crowds scream on Today and Good Morning America, forwhat it’s worth). Maybe it’s all the tears and the swelling music andPennington’s gravelly “Goooood morrrrrning Plattsburghs!” (Hsssss!)Maybe it’s that I can’t shake the feeling that these families are, no matterwhat they gain from the show, having their personal tragedies exploited forratings points and ad dollars.

Whatever the reason, I truly wish ExtremeMakeover Home Edition didn’t make me feel so ornery, that I could react to itwith the same unflinching indifference I feel for The Unit, and Deal or NoDeal, and all the other shows that I’ll never, ever watch. But my extremeloathing of Extreme Makeover, while irrational, is also quite real, and everyonce in a while, it makes me feel like a bad person.

Slezak: *#&%@* this @*#&%@ piece-of-crap program!
Conscience: What is WRONG with you? Be nice to the quadriplegic lady and hercancer-surviving triplets!
Slezak: [Grumble.]
Conscience: Seriously, dude, you need to put down theremote and go do some volunteer work.
Slezak: Okay, as soon as I clear up some space on my DVR.
Conscience: [Sighs deeply.]
Slezak: What? It’s about to delete Women’s Murder Club!

addCredit(“Ty Pennington: Jean-Paul Aussenard/”)

Similarly, I feel cranky about Ellen DeGeneres and herpublic battle with a non-profit dog rescue called Mutts and Moms. For days,I’ve been purposely avoiding news stories about “Iggygate,” as it’sbeing called, but I saw DeGeneres’ original, tearful rant on the topic, and allI could think was, “Why in the name of all that’s holy are you talkingabout this on air? Why do I feel like you’re pushing those tears? And why, ifthis dog [Iggy, pictured at right] is so special to you, do you keep referring to him as ‘it’?”(Mind you, I’m usually a huge DeGeneres fan; I even watched that sitcom of hers with Cloris Leachman!)

So here’s my question: Do I have some genetic defectthat’s causing me to rail against televised displays of charity? (I shouldmention that I fervently avoid telethons and benefit concerts, too.) Or maybe Idon’t like aggressive Kleenex moments? Or, more likely, I’m just looking forsomebody to tell me I’m not alone about all this.