July 2008

Jennifer Johnson

magazine whore

Ty Pennington at Home

Ty Pennington, the TV carpenter known for his spiky, dyed hair, his affinity for sleeveless shirts that show his buff arms, and overuse of the word “dude,” is among the latest in the growing list of celebrities who have spawned their own magazine. His offering, Ty Pennington at Home, launched late in 2007 and, according to his editor’s letter in the Spring issue, “Not only were you, the reader, my TV fans, friends and colleagues blown away by our initial effort, but the magazine industry also took notice and we were recognized as one of the hottest launches of 2007. Cool.” Cool indeed. Now that the magazine is quarterly, I picked up a copy to see what exactly Ty Pennington could possibly have to put in a magazine four times a year.

The answer? Not much. What struck me most about this magazine is that Ty Pennington’s voice really is prevalent throughout. There is no question that this is his magazine and that he must be at least minimally involved in editorial decision making. Of course, the problem with that is that he’s at least minimally involved in editorial decision making.

I imagine editorial meetings going something like this:

Editor: “Hey, Ty, what’s your favorite color?”
Ty Pennington: “Well, I like lime green.”
Editor: “Cool. Let’s do a thing where you pick out a bunch of lime green stuff.” (See Ty Hi/Lo where Ty picks out both high end and low price items that are all lime green.)

OR:

Editor: “Hey Ty, didn’t you just tape an episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition? People like that show! Why don’t we basically recap that episode in the magazine?”
Ty Pennington: “Cool.”

And thus, six more pages are filled.

The bulk of the magazine consists of the 16 (seriously) eponymous departments. You have your “Ty Mail” (Ty answers reader mail), your “Ty Spies” (Ty recommends some products), your “Ty Tech” (Ty recommends some tech products), your “Ty Eco” (Ty recommends some earth friendly products), your “Ty’s Tools” (Ty recommends some tools), and your “Ty Goes Green” (Ty picks out more earth friendly products and suggests that we use tap water instead of buying bottled water), to name a few.

But wait, there’s more! In “Ty’s Team,” you meet a friend of Ty’s. He’s a glass blower, isn’t that neat? You also learn, “The duo’s friendship has spanned 20 years and has been a source of creative inspiration for each (interestingly, both live with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).” Hooray for overcoming learning disabilities!

In “Ty’s Rules,” Ty shares some words of wisdom about home decorating and design. This includes such gems as “Just because it’s in style doesn’t mean it’s your style” and “don’t overdo it.” Thanks, Ty!

Ty redesigns the office of a TV exec in “Ty’s Star Style,” but we never learn who that TV exec is or who they work for. Anyone want to bet that it’s his producer on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition?

“1 Room, 3 Ways” (yes, there are a few articles that don’t actually have Ty’s name in the title) treats us to a fun little infomercial as Ty uses some furniture from one of his lines at Sears (“Ty’s new Costa del Mar dining room furniture from Sears, with its straight lines, sleek finish and brushed metal legs, provides the perfect foundation…”) to decorate a room in three different ways. If you ignore the product placement and just look at what he does, it’s actually interesting to see how different the rooms look. I’m not sure how much help he gets in these things, but the rooms are markedly different and innovative. Of course, any good will you have toward this magazine gets thrown down the drain when you read the line: “You could say it’s versaTYle!” Get it? Versa-TY-le. It’s like versatile but with TY in the middle. Do you want to kill yourself yet?

The magazine is also splattered throughout with Ty’s “witty” observations and banter, including this gem from a feature about throwing a brunch party: “I love brunch because you can mix breakfast foods and lunch foods.” Congratulations to Ty for figuring out what brunch is.

To make a long story short, this magazine greatly exceeds the daily recommended allowance of Ty Pennington. If you’re in his fan club, get yourself a copy. Otherwise, stick to Trading Spaces re-runs and design magazines that don’t use the word “dude.”