TV Review: ‘American Dream Builders’

American Dream Builders

Feeling much more like a Bravo show than something destined to rock NBC’s house, “American Dream Builders” represents a hodgepodge of reality concepts, mixing the feel-good uplift of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” with the cutthroat elimination politicking of “The Apprentice” or “Project Runway.” The modest conceit is that two teams of C-list designers — at least, to those unlikely to swoon at the names Vanessa Deleon or Darren Moore — vie to turn around a home remodel in record time, with one of the losers jettisoned each week. Not surprisingly, there’s lots of boastful bravado and sniping, but even a smidgen of originality, alas, isn’t part of the floor plan.

Hosted by Nate Berkus, the premiere immediately splits the dozen designers and home-builders before setting off at a breakneck pace — redesigning two houses on the same street, where the multiple generations living there have outgrown the space. Frantic from the get-go, the participants spend about half the time racing against the clock and the rest talking to the camera about how fabulous they are.

Beyond Berkus, there are two judges, Monica Pedersen and Eddie George, the latter a former NFL star who (conveniently) now runs a landscaping business. But the actual decision on who “wins” — in a move intended to elicit gasps, apparently — falls to the extended neighborhood, in a sort of “It takes a village to decide if that vanity goes with the tile” flourish.

If there’s one clear miscalculation, it would seem to be the fact the participants are all ostensibly established in their field. This suggests they don’t necessarily need to win to, say, launch their careers, but neither do they possess the built-in name-recognition that would provide any sort of “wow” factor in seeing them in this kind of take-no-prisoners competition.

Notably, NBC is putting the show in the timeslot “Extreme Makeover” once occupied (followed by a couple of new dramas), perhaps hoping viewers won’t notice the difference.

Obviously, there’s a core audience for this genre, but even with NBC’s modest expectations, it would appear to be a longshot to expect “American Dream Builders” to add much to that foundation.

Of course, the designers would no doubt judge a contemporary harshly if he or she proposed a remodeling scheme that exhibited zero imagination. Yet as for assessing their TV show, well, there’s an adage about people who live in glass houses.

TV Review: 'American Dream Builders'

(Series; NBC, Sun. March 23, 8 p.m.)


Produced by Steele Mill Prods. in association with Universal Television.


Executive producers, Tom Shelly, Jason Ehrlich, Nate Berkus; co-executive producers, Lisa Higgins, Tina Nicotera, Alex Katz, Johnny Petillo; director Tony Croll; production designer, John Gilles; casting, Jodi Thomas, Becky Reczek, Allison Kaz. 60 MIN.


Host: Nate Berkus. Judges: Eddie George, Monica Pedersen

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  1. My friend in America was talking just yesterday about American Dream Builders show that he for some reason liked it. Although reading from comments it suggest otherwise.

  2. Jeri & Jerry Glassman says:

    We really need your help, our house was built in 62′ and we are in 44 years, and it like like it did years we can afford to fix up due to cost expenses. We still have a back with dirt and weeds.We really would love to have new idea and HELP.

  3. Margaret says:

    I’ve seen this show twice. Was seriously unimpressed the first time. This time I’m done watching. The one Super Diva, Elaine is just so terrible to people — and she was not sent home – she should have been sent home and perhaps by doing this could have redeemed this show. By keeping her, she sees what she does justified and bad behavior is never justified. It seems that the networks are all for the drama and offer nothing but garbage for TV shows. This could have been a worthy show, but the drama and snarky behavior is too much. I feel sorry for the sponsors.

  4. Kelley Stewart says:

    I taped this show and am only ten minutes into it. So far I am unimpressed as I’m sick to death of snarky, egocentric people putting each other down. This is a prime time television hour on a Sunday night, no doubt older children will be watching and what kind of impression will they be left with, that it’s alright to put others down and think of yourself as superior? Could you see your child involved in a school project with this kind of mentality?

  5. Azura says:

    They should rename this show “Diva Home Remodel”. Twenty minutes into the show, and I had to turn it off. Have these people heard that there is no “I” in “team”??? If I wanted to see sniping and hubris, I’d watch “Survivor”. “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” this is NOT. This show is just a waste of time.

  6. Chris Flynn says:

    Seriously……. all this show is people arguing with one another over stupid things. There are no real design/construction ideas given that one can actually follow. We see the houses to be changed in a whirlwind and can not actually focus on what is going on as it is all smashed together with an end result of kicking one person off the show. As I watched this, I am thinking……. did this really take place in one week???? I like to be inspired by these shows but this one is really lacking some substance. Nothing but a, as I said before, a real “whirlwind” !!!

  7. Art Salmons says:

    Is this really a Brian Lowry review? There’s no attacking of Fox News or people whose politics he doesn’t like. Every good television show review must have these things.

  8. Jacques Strappe says:

    Add this to my long list of network head scratchers, “what the hell were they thinking?”

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