I was going to invite friends over to watch Scrubs tonight until I remembered that I don’t have friends in the plural, plus, after previewing a couple of episodes of WOW’s Court TV series, House of Clues, I wasn’t keen on having my one friend discover my few remaining secrets by examining the accouterments of my living room.
House of Clues is a kind of mind game show in which two contestants vie for prizes by trying to be the first to identity a house’s occupant based solely on the contents of three of its rooms. Separately, the would-be detectives prowl through the rooms, rummaging, sifting, drawing conclusions, and creating a profile of the homeowner. At the end of each room search, the contestants are asked questions about their findings by House host, Dr. Reef Karim (above, sleuthing with contestant), who is also attempting to learn who lives in the house. In the final act, the house’s occupant comes out of hiding and chooses a winner. Except for the prize part, it’s the sort of thing you usually do whenever you visit someone. It’s like a hybrid of CSI and Cribs.
“Someone might think a man is a secret cross-dresser because he has a woman’s skirt in his closet,” says Karim. “But the reality might be that a woman had spent the night or he has a girlfriend who stays over or maybe the skirt belongs to his sister. You need to look for clues, to look for patterns and not jump to conclusions.”
Dr. Karim is a multi-hyphenate: psychiatrist, addiction fellow, relationship therapist, and media consultant at UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute. Now also a reality-show host. One day he’ll make Dr. Phil seem like Tom Green. I ask the doc about the psychology of the show. “Since our things are an extension of us,” he says, “how can we interpret behavior, personality, and characteristics based solely on our home?” How indeed. “As a psychiatrist, I talk directly to patients in my office or at the hospital–or maybe in a jail or inmate reception center–to assess their dangerousness, their potential for violence, their personality characteristics, and their possible pathology. I try to glean information about how they lead their lives. In House of Clues, we take non-offenders and, starting in their home, work backwards, trying to glean that same information, the day-to-day activities, looking at who they are and extrapolating their personality, their demographics, and the issues going on in their lives based on [the contents of] their home.”
And that guy with the skirt in his closet, maybe he and his “sister” would like to watch Scrubs tonight.