Look, we all love watching shows that have spectacular homes taken to the next level with very creative designs. But let’s state what we find more interesting: The lives of designers. There’s a reason why people like dramas that start when Top FixerChip and Joanna Gaines’ marriage fell apart, and when Jeff Lewis will erupt on subordinates on Flip out it made for good reality TV. So what will we see in the new Netflix series where a married couple each runs their own design company?
Opening Shot: Lots of high end Miami real estate photos. “Miami is a designer’s dream,” says Ray Jimenez.
The main thing is: Ray and his wife Eilyn Jimenez are both interior designers, each having their own design firm. The aesthetic is modern minimalist and hers is more colorful and bold, but keeps the modern furniture and fixtures in mind. They both work in the high-end market, designing homes that are worth millions.
Eilyn worked with a former NFL player who wanted a modern yet masculine aesthetic in his home. His grand design features include a metal wine cellar above a marble fire feature, which his contractor father had to fix when it started to warp. He also has a column mounted to attach a metal ladder. One problem; the client stays at home and watches things take place. When she calls to say she’s home early from a European trip, Eilyn and her staff have to scramble.
Ray had parted ways with his business partner and gone off on his own; they both shared time with the previous company employees, and Ray wished they both came to his company full time. One of her projects involved a couple who wanted their flashy modern home to be cozy and fun, and she only had a weekend to make plans.
In their personal lives, they both regard their business as their children, and they each spend a lot of their time. But Dominica Ray’s extended family pressured them to start having children, something Eilyn despised, even as she seemed to graciously accept their taunts at family dinners. They have also purchased a house that has been torn down into buttons so they can redesign and move into the house with their dog.
What Show Will Remind You? There are many other design and home improvement shows featuring couples, such as Top Fixers. Of course, not every couple on the show was successful, as in Top Fixers.
We Take: If you want to see lots of real estate and porn designs then Designing Miami is a show for you. The first episode introduces us to Jimenez, sets out each other’s aesthetics, and shows why they each have their own company instead of working together. We also look at the situation of the employees in each. Otherwise, there’s a lot of client conversation, photos of Eilyn’s office being renovated and lots of before/after or before/in progress photos.
It’s all very common stuff… until a part of their private life comes in. The topic of children was a big fight between Ray and Eilyn; Ray said he was ready but Eilyn insisted — rightfully so — that she wouldn’t be forced to have children until she was ready. And, given his drive, love for design, and ambition to grow his company, it’s pretty clear that he’s not ready, and probably not anytime soon. During the interview segment, the two of them talked about baby issues and that was the only part of the first episode that felt authentic.
While we love seeing luxury homes and interior designs, that’s not what drives reality shows like this; it’s a messy personal life or an employer-employee conflict. In the upcoming first season of the attraction, we might see some of the latter with Ray, and there might be some client mishegas. However, it really feels like where this show will set itself apart is seeing Ray and Eilyn compete head-to-head for big clients, exploring their conflicts about expanding their family, or both.
Sex and Skin: Lots of real estate and porn designs.
Last word: As the Jimenez family is walking past the clubs in South Beach, Eilyn gets a call about their client returning from Europe early. So it looks like date night ends early too.
Sleeping Star: The Rays’ chatter about him and Eilyn having no children wasn’t overbearing, but it had an impact on them. Eilyn was very annoyed, even if she looked like she took it in stride.
Most Pilot-y Lines: While walking down Ocean Drive in South Beach, Ray talks about how amazingly all the Art Deco architecture there is preserved. Not only does that sound written, but it certainly isn’t the most romantic date night talk.
Our call: SKIP. If Designing Miami starts showing more of Ray and Eilyn’s personal life and marital issues along with real estate and design stuff, it’s watchable. But now there’s too much of the latter and not enough of the former to make for a compelling show.
Joel Keller (@joelkeller) writes about food, entertainment, parenting, and technology, but he’s not kidding himself: he’s a TV addict. Her writings have appeared in the New York Times, Slate, Salon, RollingStone.com, VanityFair.comFast Company and elsewhere.