If you’ve ever allowed a woman to pick what to watch on television, chances are you have endured Home & Garden Television (HGTV). Despite the occasional useful how-to programming, HGTV panders to the predominantly female impulse to accumulate without mindfulness. Here are four aspects of HGTV’s poisonous campaign:

1. Buy A House!

Renting because you’re unsure if owning is the right financial move? You should buy a house at the top of your budget! Do you already own a house? Buy a bigger house! Shows like House Hunters and Property Virgins depict home ownership as a noble financial, emotional, and social ideal. The National Association of Realtors advertises during these shows, insisting that the housing market has never been more attractive for new buyers. The only renters featured are those looking to rent abroad for a year — while vacationing from the house they own at home.

2. Women are encouraged to go wild with their wants, not counseled on their needs

The typical episode of House Hunters is a cohabitating couple who wants to purchase a home to signal the seriousness of their relationship. In the brief interviews about their desires, the man will typically say something practical like “a colonial within our budget with a nice backyard for the dog.” The woman will give a laundry list with unjustifiable extras: open floor plan, in-suite bathroom, a walk-in closet to store unnecessary stuff, etc. If there’s any discrepancy between their priorities, she always wins. The paper tiger men attempt to maintain some semblance of control by setting a budget, but the women (with the realtor and show host’s blessings) usually manipulate the men in to acquiescing.

3. Everything needs to be updated

A network with this focus would understandably have shows about renovating houses, but what qualifies as “out-of-date” has become comical. Beautiful kitchens, spacious living rooms, and quaint backyards built in the last 50 years are labeled eyesores that must be updated to current styles for reasons unknown. Lowe’s runs constant ads declaring the ease of completely changing your home in between segments about how much nicer everyone else’s house is than your own.

4. Minimalism is not an option

So you’ve signed away 30 years of your future and updated everything to remove the stink of the early 2000s. Now fill it with crap! Rooms designed by the Property Brothers and backyards on Yard Crashers are stuffed to the brim with useless trinkets. Every shelf needs to have fake books, every table needs to be draped with cloth, every open space needs to be filled. Do you have a wall without a picture hanging on it? You must be poor.

A constant, subversive theme here is that men’s desires don’t matter. When a couple has to make a decision, the woman typically gets her way. These shows often focus on wall-bound women searching for some societally-approved talisman of their status. Straight, unattached men are less likely to possess this elemental desire to buy more things and own more space than they can afford, rendering them bad investments as customers.

Next time you have a few minutes to kill, flip over to HGTV and witness these themes for yourselves. Foreknowledge of how the corporate master manipulates the female nesting instinct will help you guard against its insidious effects on the women in your life.

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