American Dream Builders

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
American Dream Builders TV Poster Image
Design competition has snarky behavior, lots of brands.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

The show's purported aim is to help families be happier and more comfortable in their homes, but this is accomplished through sometimes bitter competition between teams of high-profile designers.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Contestants all are successful builders and designers with established reputations; some come off as humble whereas others brag and exchange catty comments.

Violence

Stress and competitive behavior lead to snarky comments, arguing, and yelling. Some folks talk about their desire to shove or slap each other. 

Sex
Language

During conflict, contestants sometimes use language such as "ass" or "hell," though stronger words are bleeped.

Consumerism

Lowe's and Zillow.com are prominently featured throughout the show. Logos for brands such as Cat, Southwest Airlines, and 3M are visible. Design magazines such as Oprah's O At Home, House Beautiful, and Better Home and Gardens are sometimes discussed or shown. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that American Dream Builders is a cross between design shows like Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and competitions such as Top Chef. Despite a purported aim of helping families be more comfortable in their homes, the drama comes from the sometimes fierce competition among designers who sometimes yell and criticize one another openly. Lowe's and Zillow.com are show sponsors, and their logos are featured throughout the show and competitors shop at Lowe's during the episodes.

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What's the story?

AMERICAN DREAM BUILDERS is a design-competition show that pits 12 celebrated builders and designers against each other as they attempt to impress with their skills and savvy. Each week the contestants are divided into two teams and are assigned a new project that requires them to renovate the space from the inside out within a limited number of days. On the day of the reveal, their work is judged by designer Nate Berkus, interior designer and TV host Monica Pedersen, and Eddie George, a former NFL pro and accomplished landscape architect. However, the folks who actually decide which team managed the best renovation is the neighborhood council, a group of local leaders, neighbors, and real-estate experts, who are concerned, in part, about the impact the makeovers will have on the community's property values. At the end of each episode, the judges decide which member of the losing team goes home.

Is it any good?

American Dream Builders offers the traditional building and design drama that one comes to expect from home-design-competition shows, including pressures to resolve seemingly unfixable space solutions, to work well as a team, and to meet deadlines. It also highlights issues that go beyond interior-design choices, including understanding the relationship between what to rebuild, how to design, and the impact these decisions have on the value of a property. 

Some folks may find it interesting or fun, but it's the contestants, all of whom have well-established reputations in the building-and-design industry, who are the most colorful part of the design experience. However, because they're trying to protect their professional standings while working on these projects, they engage in lots of competitive and catty behavior. It certainly creates drama, but it's not always positive. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about reality competitions. Why do you think regular folks and designers agree to be on a show like this? What is the benefit of competing on a competition show if there are no prizes? 

  • Do you think the designers and builders featured here act the same way when they're not on the show?  

TV details

For kids who love reality shows

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