Extreme Home Makeover: Iraq Edition

Yesterday’s NYT had a peculiar but fascinating story about the growth of reality television in Iraq. It turns out that while constitutional democracy is proving somewhat difficult to export, this signature facet of American Culture is thriving.

The Times piece focuses on a show called “Materials and Labor,” a home repair program run by the publisher of the respectable Azzaman newspaper, and inspired by the likes of “This Old House” and “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.” In other words, it’s just like reality television in America! Well, except for that small Iraqi twist:

Since its start, the show has financed the repair of six homes. Two of those were destroyed by car bombs, two during the detonation of munitions by American soldiers, one by American armor and the sixth by an American airstrike.
[“Materials and Labor” writer Majid] Samarraie said each episode, by showing the ravages of war and the callousness of politicians, serves as a critique of the Americans and the Iraqi government.

You know your occupation is going badly when it takes a reality television show to clean up the debris.