An Alternative Explanation for the Housing Crisis, Two Years Later

Because I have my finger on the pulse of society like that.

Remember how everyone in the US was losing his house because of these sub-prime mortgages? Falsely led to believe that they can afford more house, borrowers would take on bigger mortgages than they could normally afford. When the interest rates went up, they defaulted on their mortgages, became homeless, and the financial sectors that were counting on these debts suddenly found themselves in trouble. Or something like that.

Several bailouts later, I still don’t know what led people to think that they needed a starter mansion when a condo, townhouse, or small bungalow would suffice nicely. While I’ve never purchased a house, my assumption is that I’ll buy something slightly smaller than I can safely afford, for when things get tight.

Then it struck me why people bought bigger homes than they could afford: television. Have you seen the houses that so-called middle class families live in on TV these days? They’re enormous.

Take Modern Family. I enjoy it. It’s a sharply written but generally light-hearted take on families making a go of it in suburbia. They live in massive houses.  The last episode I watched had Gloria purchasing a Hawaii vacation, using her husband’s money, for the entire family as a surprise to her husband. When he learned of this, he merely grumbled. He was more concerned over his step-son sitting on his Kindle, which contained his favourite Robert Ludlum novels. While I relate to some of the things they talk about, it’s evident that there is no problem their considerable wealth can’t solve.

When were working class people banned from the airwaves? Everybody Hates Chris? Cancelled. Louis CK’s Lucky Louie? Cancelled. Roseanne? Malcolm in the Middle? Distant memories.

Maybe it’s just too tempting for set designers to splash out on the expensive stuff when they’re given a network budget. Maybe American TV producers don’t know what middle class is. Whatever the reason, it’s occurred to me that when people see these lavish lifestyles on TV, they feel they deserve it as well. A five bedroom home with granite counter tops? This is what people like me live in. I need to live in this, too. With a Volvo SUV.

Maybe the answer is to start creating programmes that show people modestly living within their means. Then you might have TV that’s more reflective of a broader section of society and it won’t cause so many financial crises.

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