Framework Episode 5: Problems in Bed

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

This week’s episode of Framework at once demonstrated the awesome potential of this show and everything that makes it a challenging reality competition to watch.

This week’s episode of Framework at once demonstrated the awesome potential of this show and everything that makes it a challenging reality competition to watch. This week’s task for the builders: in teams of three, demonstrate your reproduction1 skills by constructing a stylish bed that can be mass-produced and assembled by those upgrading from Ikea. The teams are Lacey/BK/Jory, Wes/Freddy/Jess, and Garrett/Jason/Rahil.

Why Framework is Awesome

This challenge was hands down the best of the season so far. I much prefer the challenges where the type of piece is assigned rather than being left to the builders to decide. This forces some builders out of their comfort zones and the viewer gets some insight about why a particular piece is challenging to construct.

This challenge also introduced an element used in the ping pong table challenge: real people using the product. The evaluation of mass production was accomplished by bringing in pairs of people to build a second version of each bed with instructions provided by the team. Garrett/Jason/Rahil dominated in this task, creating a fabulous wood/steel combination that their construction team was able to put together in about 12 minutes.

Compare that to Wes/Freddy/Jess and their baffling oaken monstrosity. Their bed weighed at least 200 pounds. Also, it had instructions so confusing that the reproduction2 wasn’t even assembled correctly after six people worked on it.

This challenge had elements of extreme success, extreme failure, fantastic design, and practical real-world applications. More like this, please.

Why Framework is the Worst

This week’s episode featured guest judge Richard Holbrook, an expert on mass production and design. His contributions to the discussion were helpful and constructive and brought a consumer perspective. You know, the role Common is allegedly supposed to fill. In fact, Common was completely back burner this week and his presence was not missed.

However, the problem that plagued the series from the beginning is still present: tone. Thanks to everyone adopting an “I’m not here to make friends” attitude at the jump, every single interaction is adversarial and defensive. Any potential moments for levity or relaxing downtime are spent watching contestants (usually Freddy or Jory) sniping or trying to destroy another contestant’s confidence (usually Rahil). I get it, y’all want to win, but for the viewer there is nothing fun about these kind of interactions. One of the reasons why Top Chef and Project Runway work is because in between the high pressure deadlines, we see the contestants playing with Swatch at Mood or cracking jokes in the stew room. Most of the contestants are people I would not want to hang out with, which makes checking in for 42 minutes each week about as fun as going to the dentist.

Unfortunately, this is the course Framework has chosen for itself. If there is a second season3, the contestants are going to be even more Type A, even more unpleasant, and even less about the craft of building/woodworking. Honestly, I was hoping Jess would get the boot last night, since I promised myself I would stick around until she left. Wes got eliminated instead, which was probably the right call. But now we’re all stuck in this Bitter Ender’s game.

  1. we should treat this like Pee-wee’s Playhouse and scream every time Common says it  
  2. “AHHHHHHHHHHH”  
  3. which is doubtful  

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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
  • Woody

    Common sounds at times like he’s about to nod off, or like he’s quietly pissed that he signed up for this and hates every single contestant.

    • Aaron Mucciolo

      Not every single contestant – but I definitely get the feeling he was promised a show about the art of design and construction, and is stunned at the level of diva-ness displayed by so many so far.

  • Aaron Mucciolo

    I spent half the episode trying to figure out when Holbrook had made the jump from diplomacy to furniture design before finally registering the subtle difference in names.