We Begin: Part 5

Karen Corner

PART 5 (published August 2017)

In March of 2016, when our first season began to air, I discovered that what I had felt watching myself on TV during the pilot, the weird, uncomfortable conspicuous feeling, had not gone away.   I really really really did not like watching myself on TV.  And Mina said if I didn’t watch the episode, it was like going to all the soccer practices but not going to the game.  So, I watch the episodes, uncomfortably.  Although it has nothing to do with my discomfort in watching, I am always surprised, having been there for the filming, what the editors decide to include and not include in the finished episode.  And I really don’t like watching myself.

But, other people must like watching us, because the TV gods smiled upon us (we think) and shortly after season 1 began airing, we were told to gear up for a second season.  We thought we were ready.  We had all the property we needed.  We had employees who had made it through season 1.  We had trusted investors.  We knew it was a marathon, not a sprint.   But when we started filming in May, we still found ourselves feeling frazzled and crazy a lot of the time:  most of our production crew were new people who had not been with us during season 1, and we all had to get used to each other; about half of the things we thought we had nailed down came unnailed, and all the usual problems with construction on old houses continued to arise.  And, although I looked at a second season as an opportunity to improve, I didn’t find myself improving.  I was having trouble adjusting to the unreality of reality TV.

There are lots of things you have to do to make what happens in the real world translate onto TV.  Sometimes you have to do the same thing multiple times for different cameras, different angles, and different lighting.  It is really hard to look surprised by the same thing multiple times.  Sometimes, I am in the middle of something that is extremely interesting to me, and I have to stop and wait for a camera, and then the magic I was feeling leaves.  Saying all this, even to me, sounds like whining when what I should be feeling is gratitude for the opportunity.  So not only was I annoyed, I was annoyed at myself for feeling annoyed.  Talk about a vicious cycle.

There were also many times, pretty much daily, that I felt marginalized in our business by my own daughter.  She seemed to make decisions, spend money, manage employees, pretty much everything, without thinking about consulting me.  I know she felt like I was absent, non-responsive and had an emotional hair trigger.  You wouldn’t know any of this from watching us on TV.  We both take our responsibility to our production company, HGTV and the show very seriously.  We would never want to abdicate our responsibility or let anyone down. So we did our best to manage our feelings on our own and make TV.

On the bright side, my husband’s stage four cancer was responding well to treatment, and although the two of us now approached life with a new appreciation for the value of every single day together, things did settle down for us.  We became less fearful of what the next day would bring.   The peacefulness of my home and the happiness in my marriage balanced the negativity in other areas.  My husband is the biggest advocate for my relationship with my children that a step father could ever be.  He always encourages me to be patient and understanding with them.  He points out when I have erred in a way that makes me feel like he is 100% on my team.  His calm, kind, patient nature balances my impulsive, energetic one in the most remarkable way.