I am quite far from being anything remotely close to a handyman. Despite having a keychain that resembles a handsaw proclaiming me to be a member of a handyman association (Truth — my stepfather was giving me a key and it came with the keychain that he got as a member of that association, I am really not that handy. Having gotten into a number of HGTV shows in the last few months, I am quite interested in the people that take the houses on the show and transform them from horror shows to amazing living spaces using tools and construction material.

The concept of the television show All American Handyman is that one person out of a group of handymen will walk away with the title of All American Handyman. In order to get this amazing title, the person has to survive a series of challenges, show after show, each more difficult than the last. It is almost like watching programs like Survivor or Big Brother, only that absolutely every single thing that is quite usable in the real world of home repair. When a contestant on the show makes an error in repairing a patch and one of the judges explains what went wrong, that is knowledge you can take to the bank the next time you have to patch a hole in the wall.

In the most recent episode, everyone was paired and had two challenges. Contestants Rodney and Carol did exceptionally well in the first challenge, in which they had to crawl through a tight space and repair seven different problems. In the second challenge, however, they were meant to build an outdoor kitchen complete with a sink, refrigerator, and a barbecue. From the very beginning, Rodney (an excellent handyman in every way including brilliant design) had an idea of what he wanted to do and did not seem interested in including Carol. He kept on telling her to wait on the sideline and that he would tell her what was happening but soon she grew frustrated — understandably.

She and Rodney started clashing on every single idea that he had and she even began speaking harshly about some of the ideas, saying that they just would not work. By the end of the challenge, almost everyone else had built a much better outdoor kitchen and the judges were well aware of it. They said that going forward, being able to work in a team was the most important thing and that since they failed to do so in such a spectacular manner, they were both sent home.

I imagine that even if they had done a reasonable job on the outdoor kitchen but had collaborated from the start — for example, if they had laid out a plan in the beginning instead of one of them doing all of the heavy lifting to the resentment of the other, it would have gone a lot better and they may even have won instead of getting taken off the show.


  1. I have tried to watch the show, but to me it feels like the HGTV version of Hell’s Kitchen and Master Chef: Pick the biggest doofuses to mock and make fun of for ratings. I’d much rather watch real, professional, Handymen go head-to-head than these know-nothings. I don’t know anything about construction, yet even I somehow know how to cripple a window because that is basic common sense! How can half their “contestants” not know that?

    1. Having watched every minute of every episode, I can tell you that it is more about practical know-how and much less about doofusry. The contestants have done some amazing work in the last few episodes that I doubt most professional handymen would be able to handle in the time constraint.

      1. I’ve watched enough of the show to know how un-serious it is except for the few ringers. Most of the contestants are there so Mike can grunt at them and tear down what they built. It’s a terribly negative show.

        1. Well he does warn from the beginning that he will like you perfectly well so long as you “Make it Right” — there have been only five episodes, may I ask at what point you gave up?

          1. I watched all the shows up to this season. I started this season and stopped at the episodes that dealt with fixing up the garage and putting a larger window in a wall in a smaller window already in place. It was just all so silly and ridiculous that I decided I’d had enough. That’s the show, though. It isn’t about learning or teaching, it’s about giving simple tasks that many of the contestants make impossible by a lack of common sense. Any person on the street with a general knowledge of power tools could work out a successful ending, but they don’t want that. They want The Doofus Drama because that’s what people want to watch — “Candid Camera for Tool Lovers.” I find it mean-spirited, but, again, that’s the show so I’m not selling any secrets here.

          2. I would love to see a hardcore Handyman reality show — with Mike and his co-host and other real pros — going at it against each other in competition to see who finishes not just first, but best, and under budget. Now that would help us learn so much!

  2. I hope someone reads this because this show is the STUPIDEST “reality” show on TV. I don’t know how the contestants are selected but I will tell you that none of them are as talented as I am and if you saw some of the many projects I’ve done over the years you would agree. I have finished 3 basements in new homes, the last required 110 sheets of drywall, walls and ceilings, all hung by myself. I have built 4 decks all at least 12X16 all with plans in my head. Three are over 20 years old, the fourth was converted to a 3 season porch. I redid my kitchen. I did the tear out and install myself but Home Depot did the design. By working together with a designer we came up with several really good ideas to make the kitchen more functional. You need a pro to avoid mistakes. Being a handyman doesn’t mean you’re a designer. I built an 8X8 storage shed for my in-laws in 1970. 42 Years later that shed is still standing. I didn’t design it, I worked from a plan.

    The search is for the best “OVERALL” handyman yet someone gets eliminated after the first challenge. Every contestant should be permitted to compete in EVERY challenge. The judges can score each project on a 1-100 point basis [the worst gets -0- the best gets 100] and at the end, the highest total wins. The contestant booted because of his dog house design may well have been the star player on the remaining challenges. The ultimate winner might be the person that finished NEXT TO LAST 8 times.

    This shows violates Mike Holmes’ motto of “Do it right.” Doing it right doesn’t mean a race against the clock, it means taking the time to do it right. There should be no time limit on a project. The first one done gets bonus points and then a clock starts allowing an additionsl 30 minutes. Bonus points can be awarded for finishing 2nd, 3rd and so on. That’s an incentive to get done ASAP.

    4 Of the projects required designing. Dog House, Backyard Retreat, Outdoor Kitchen, Indoor Kitchen. I don’t consider designing to be a handyman skill. If I was doing any of these projects I would work from a plan, or at least a picture of what I or the person I was working for wanted.

    I would love to debate Mr Holmes on this but I doubt that will happen.

    1. Phillip,

      I like the points that you make but as you surely know, it’s hard to find competitions that don’t include “the clock” as a major part of the element. At what point do you say “enough” ? One week for the dog house? A month?

      I do on the other hand agree with you vis-a-vis the plans.

      Also, the first challenge elimination only happened in the last episode — but I guess that’s not too germane to your point.

      1. Regarding the time. It’s my opinion that receiving bonus points for being the first one done will be the incentive to finish as quickly as possible. Once the first person is done everyone else gets a maximum of 30 more minutes.

        Many of us have had a towel bar fall off the wall when the plastic anchors failed. This fix would be a great challenge. I’ve developed a technique for this repair that’s permanent, it will never break again. But it takes a long time because I use glue and joint compound that needs time to dry. You want a repair like this to be done right and in handyman world it’s not a race. The challenge is to do it right.

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