“I have wonderful childhood memories of vacationing in Yaki-Yaki and told my husband that’s where we should retire.”
Thus, begins another episode of House Hunters International as viewers see scenes of Yaki-Yaki – pristine beaches, picturesque mountains, colorful bazaars, drug cartels murdering newly-elected city council members.
The original House Hunters has been on television since 1999 and attracts 25 million viewers a month. The simple formula follows a home buyer on the search for the perfect residence with a local real estate agent showcasing three properties. It takes an average three days to film each episode. From a marketing perspective, the show attracts advertisers who are targeting homeowners with all kinds of products and services that will make a home beautiful. (Think of all those gut jobs waiting to happen!)
There are as many as 15 camera crews throughout the United States recording at any given time and another 25 teams producing the equally popular House Hunters International.
Speaking of House Hunters International, let’s go back to Yaki-Yaki where we meet Sam and Ida, American retirees who need a place to live. After sharing what they like about each other they tell the real estate agent the kind of Yaki-Yaki home they want to rent.
Sam – I’d rather be in town with a one bedroom, one bath.
Ida – And I must have a modern kitchen with stainless steel appliances.
Agent – Okay, what is your budget?
Sam – We absolutely can’t spend more than $300 a month.
Ida – Well, uh, if we find something turnkey, we can go as high as $325 a month.
Sam – No we can’t.
Ida – Yes we can.
Soon they are standing in front of a dilapidated hut near the beach.
Sam – That’s fantastic!
Curtains act as walls inside the one-room shanty. The real estate agent points out the Yaki-Yaki charm, including two buckets that double as bathrooms. Following the tour, she asks Ida and Sam if they liked the house.
Believing most House Hunters viewers have Alzheimer’s, each segment begins by recapping what was just shown minutes before in the previous segment.
Now they are standing on a busy Yaki-Yaki street in front of a six-story apartment building.
Ida – One bedroom? We need at least two bedrooms because all our family and friends have promised to spend their vacations visiting us in Yaki-Yaki! Well, how far to the nearest supermarket?
Agent – Just ten minutes by donkey cart.
Sam – How much is it?
Agent – It’s right on your price point of $300 a month and that includes two hours of electricity each morning and hot water every night from 8 to 9 p.m.
Sam – That’s super!
Agent – It’s a quick walk up six flights of stairs. Be careful as some steps might be missing.
Perspiring when they reach the sixth floor, Ida and Sam look around the apartment.
The segment opens by highlighting what we have just seen moments before in segments one and two. We also watch Sam and Ida tasting foods in the Yaki-Yaki farmer’s market. The camera cuts away when Ida is told what she’s eating and throws up.
Standing in front of a large concrete building, their agent excitedly explains that the rental just came onto the market that day.
Sam – What is the HOA?
Agent – The rent is $400 a month and that includes the HOA fee.
Sam – $400?!?!? That’s too much money! We only budgeted $300.
Ida – Please Sam, let’s see the place before you complain.
The agent points out that the unit has a view of the courtyard.
Sam – Why is the courtyard so red?
Agent – That’s where prisoners were shot after their 20-minute trial. By the time you move in, those blood stains will be gone.
Sam and Ida are idyllically sitting on the beach enjoying a drink. Viewers hear gun fire in the background.
Sam – Even with that majestic view, let’s get rid of house #1 because it would be a real headache vacuuming a dirt floor.
Ida – Agree.
Sam – Okay, now we have to pick between house #2 and #3.
The gun fire sounds closer.
Sam – I really want the condo because its value will go up once they move all the prisoners.
Ida – But we need the extra bedroom for family and friends who promised to visit!
Sam – You’re right dear. We will go with the sixth floor walk-up.
Three Months Later
The scene opens with Sam and Ida happily relaxing on the beach.
Sam – Yaki-Yaki is wonderful even if no one has visited us yet.
Ida – And since I am proficient in Yakinese, I have a part-time job at the community center teaching English to the villagers.
The credits roll as we watch Ida teaching her class English.
“I am seeking asylum.”
“My baby is due any day.”
“Where is the nearest welfare office?”
“I want to register as a Democrat.”