Framework Episode 2: King of Pong

Framework (Photo: Rob Kalmbach / Spike)
Framework (Photo: Rob Kalmbach / Spike)

The builders work in pairs to construct stylish ping pong tables. Almost all of the contestants deserve to get paddled.

Framework needs to figure itself out, stat. Although the basic concept of the show—the search for America’s Next Top Furniture Maker—has the potential to be fascinating, everything about the execution of that search is nothing short of maddening. This is a shame, because on paper this week’s episode could have been a lot of fun. The builders1 were tasked with creating a stylish ping pong table for LA’s Spin Standard club.

Then production sunk their claws into everything.

First, the builders had two hours to develop their pitch to the judges for an initial critique, a circumstance last week’s winner and this show’s Omarosa/Ilan/Nightmare Person Freddy called “an unfair advantage.” That will not be the only whining in this episode. We then see all 12 designers go through their critiques, which could be interesting if there was a bit more variety in what was being designed. The challenge doesn’t even begin in earnest until about 15 minutes into the episode after we learn that this is a team challenge. Nearly all the contestants blow a gasket at this, so I have to assume none of them have ever watched TV before signing up to be on a competitive reality show. Freddy also gets to assign the teams as reward for winning last week’s challenge.2

You would think reducing the number of projects to six would make following the action more manageable, but the editing for Framework is more focused on finding the conflict and petty dramas in the workshop rather than the craft prominently on display. Each project has a problem, but there is very little context for why a problem occurred or what steps were or were not taken to address it. The only concrete issue that the viewer could latch onto involved the team of Lacey and Nathaniel, whose table was probably not going to get finished in time. Another example of the bonkers editing: Common enters the workroom to announce 15 minutes remaining, then instantly goes into a 5-second countdown.

The evaluations were more on-topic this week and not bitchy-for-the-sake-of-bitchiness. It would be helpful if the show put a graphic on the screen for the specs for a regulation ping pong table so that viewers could have some sort of frame of reference. After measurements and observations, two professional table tennis players—Soo Yeon Lee and Kazakhstan’s Elie Mehl—tested each table. This was the best part of the episode, as you get to learn what aspects a player looks for in a design that the builders may not have been aware of.3 Clear tabletops are distracting, white tabletops make it difficult to see the ball, and the wrong material could affect the sound of the game and disrupt rhythms. How cool is that?

Freddy won again with his partner Jory thanks to a sleek design that made the table look lighter and more stylish than your standard green and white set. Nathaniel and Lacey did not finish their table, mainly because Nathaniel spent the entire task working on upholstering legs and leaving everything else to Lacey. Much like last week’s contestant, Nathaniel left the competition super-pissed and vowing revenge.

Framework feels like a tired competition in its seventh or eighth season, substituting the content that made the show enjoyable in its first few seasons with bickering and posturing. Of the 114 contestants remaining, the only one whose input is worth listening to is Jess. I will try to stick around until she leaves, but if things get more nuts I’m gonna bolt.

  1. the show’s official title for contestants  
  2. That’s what an actual “advantage” looks like, buddy.  
  3. Not that they had the opportunity to ask…  
  4. GUH  

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About Mike McComb 656 Articles
Mike has been writing about TV online since 2008, when he started the blog WTF Little House on the Prairie? The blog was a project to practice writing about television analytically prior to getting an MA in Television-Radio-Film from Syracuse University, or as he likes to call it "TV Camp." After a lengthy stint at TVLatest, Mike wanted to launch a site that brought in classic TV, diamonds in the rough, and the shows everybody watches. E-mail: mike@whatelseison.tv