I thought about never watching it. I was worried that all the ridiculousness that happened over the three days of filming in Bishkek and one day in DC would be a half-hour of embarrassing nonsense. Still, I had come to terms with the fact that other people, friends, family and complete strangers, would watch me pretend to search for an apartment and pretend to enjoy eating boiled sheep. I thought that as long as I didn’t see the episode for myself, I could remain blissfully ignorant of how awkward I really am.
Of course I couldn’t completely avoid the episode forever, and I was a bit curious to see it, but it also seemed to be my responsibility to disseminate a copy of the episode to friends in Bishkek and anybody in the states who missed the first showing. I asked anybody with any knowledge of techy things to, you know, just magically make the episode go from their TV to my computer. Isn’t that what this Internet thing is for?
Nobody could figure it out. It looked like I would have to just cross my fingers and hope that the hard copy the production studio said they were sending would eventually make it out here. Although, with instructions to write the address in both English and Cyrillic, and knowing the Kyrgyz postal system, I had little hope.
Then, the universe aligned in a serendipitous way. An exceedingly nice gentleman found my blog while researching Kyrgyzstan in preparation for an impending business trip, recorded the episode and wrote me an email that said he could give me a copy.
Yes, so it turns out that in our advanced digital age, somebody had to literally fly out here to give me the file. Go figure.
So I watched it. Several times by now, in fact. And here are my thoughts on it. (You can follow along at this link, and a gigantic thanks to Larry for making this possible!)
(0:26) “Smoked meat, boiled meat, fried meat…” A very Forrest Gump moment from Aidar.
And, I know it’s tough to sum up a whole country and culture in three phrases, but “where meat is plentiful, rent is flexible, and revolutions are possible” seems campy.
(0:45) Farrell says, “So this is it? This is just the room?” BAM! Setting it up early to fool everybody.
(1:00) Bishkek, KURG-gistan
(1:03) That white liquid that Farrell drinks is called jarma, and it’s some combination of salt, yogurt, carbonated water, grain, and fermentation. Blink and you’ll miss Farrell’s reaction to it, but I’m guessing they didn’t show more because they said we weren’t allowed to say anything negative about the food. And, well, our acting skills aren’t that great.
(1:21) Taking clothes out of my friend’s closet.
(1:30) TV magic! My hair/makeup looks fantastic. My voice sounds like a teenage boy though.
(1:36) It was nearly midnight in Bishkek when we filmed the Skype call. Farrell was on the drunker side of tipsy at that point.
(1:57) That’s a picture of me next to one of the fallen hands from Victory Arch in Baghdad. I’m making a thumbs-up because I’m crouched next to a giant thumb. No, really, it’s just to compare sizes, I swear I’m not deliberately trying to be culturally insensitive.
(2:00) Giggle! Dodging rockets is funny!
(2:20) Wow, I really sound like a child. They kept the part where I said moving to Kyrgyzstan was my idea, but even I’m not convinced.
(2:32) Whoa, legs. That’s me walking into the Kyrgyz Embassy in DC, where we filmed this whole elaborate scene trying to make it look like I was picking up my Kyrgyz visa and triumphantly showing it off for the camera. I’m OK with that scene being cut.
(2:54) A piece of history! That statue isn’t there anymore. Also, I really dig this whole sequence with the serious-sounding music and the marching guards.
(3:19) “…emerging from the shadows of its Soviet occupation.” Occupation? What? Really? Who decided it was an occupation?
(3:26) Not a real estate agent.
(4:04) Harvey is waving around a kalpak, a Kyrgyz hat, but the part where he explains what it is was cut out.
(4:20) “We want to be where all the exciting things are happening.” When I showed this to some friends here, they all laughed when I said that, “Where are all of these exciting things?!”
(4:36) The map is Bishkek, but the locations of the houses and landmarks, plus the scale of everything, are all sorts of wrong.
(5:12) Incorrect price, it really goes for at least $1200 a month.
(5:30) This is Harvey’s actual apartment.
(5:50) How can such a fancy apartment not have an oven!? I’m not an obsessive baker or anything, but seriously? No oven is a deal-breaker.
(6:47) Harvey’s laundry.
(7:05) Dorks. We’re totally impressed by the view, but I don’t know why I decided to wear such a goofy grin and grab Farrell’s arm like that.
(7:32) I’m setting myself up to look like a housewife.
And I’m so sorry, but I can’t figure out how to clip the commercials out. Watching U.S. commercials made me want to claw my eyes out and apologize to the world. Dina from the Real Housewives of New Jersey has a decorating show? And it’s not a joke? I’m so so sorry, world. The show resumes at 10:29.
(11:09) “My friends think I’m cRaAaAzY!” This part probably explains why so many people emailed me saying they were surprised I’m actually 23 and not, like, 16.
(11:32) Our “meager” budget. Geez, didn’t know HGTV was such a snob.
(12:09) What is this shot?
(12:30) Incorrect price, it’s actually $600 a month.
(12:55) By “traditional” furniture, Farrell means “gaudy.”
(13:36) There was a HUGE spider in the bathtub. It took a lot of determination not to freak out.
(13:55) YAY! AN OVEN! OMG!
(14:40) I didn’t notice before, but they’re really pushing the “WOW, this last place is suuuuuper small”-theme. I especially like Harvey’s comment, “This could be a bedroom. Well, it would have to be a bedroom.” And the narrator’s “box” comment.
SORRY. More commercials. Show resumes at 18:18.
(18:30) “Wow! It seems that we’ve stumbled upon a random group of strangers! We’ll just crash their lunch and not explain who they are.”
(18:37) I’m bummed they didn’t include more of the girls! They’re two of our close friends and, come on, stunningly gorgeous. They were pretty chatty too, but it didn’t make it into the show.
(18:58) Zara tries to stifle a laugh when Aidar is explaining the food. We probably shot this scene a dozen times and by the end it felt really scripted, and Zara was done trying to pretend like she was interested. Just one of the many reasons why I love that girl.
(19:28) The official Kirstin and Farrell House Hunters International Drinking Game: take a shot every time someone says “adventurous.”
(20:15) The outside of our apartment building is horrendously ugly.
(20:19) The price is probably incorrect on this one, too. The actual rent we pay is combined with our office space, but we suspect the apartment would be around $300 on its own.
(20:45) This whole scene makes me giggle. What!? This is the room? Ugh, we’re so skeptical.
(21:20) The door under the sink is stuck open because there is a rusted monstrosity hiding in there; a water boiler that our landlord installed incorrectly and never bothered to fix. And the washing machine has never worked until last week when we finally decided to stop waiting on our landlord and hire a repairman ourselves.
(21:40) “Would you mind if we check out the main room again?” I’m giggling so much.
(21:47) “So this one doesn’t have any furnishings.” No, it does. We didn’t choose the furniture that is shown later. It was all moved out to make the transformation look more dramatic.
(22:03) They had to sweeten the deal somehow. We couldn’t possibly choose the cheap studio apartment unless there was something else included.
(22:17) What is this face I’m making!?
Commercials are over at 25:01.
(25:12) The cameraman is skillfully blocking a 5-foot tall marijuana plant right in front of Farrell, growing wild at the “Friendship Monument.”
(26:12) The recap of the three apartments goes like this: 1) no oven, 2) an oven! and 3) too small, but there’s an office next door.
(26:25) Now here’s the part where we mull over all of our choices, weigh the pros and cons, and make a huge decision about where to live all in the time it takes to walk a few feet.
(26:54) “The soviet efficiency?” Har har! Smirk! I’m so awkward.
(28:08) Uh, we’re a bit uncoordinated.
(28:15) “Kirstin and Farrell signed a lease on the studio apartment.” Ha! Leases. In Bishkek. That’s funny. How official-sounding.
(28:26) It was graduation day for Bishkek high schoolers, kids don’t usually walk around wearing red and gold sashes like that.
(28:32) By “two months later” they really mean “earlier that day.”
(28:48) The timing on this shot is just perfect. “Here’s the living room” (shot of the couch and coffee table) “…slash-bedroom” (shot of the bed, right behind the coffee table). Personally, I think the furniture arrangement works out well, but this shot, plus my overly enthusiastic “Let me show you around!” voice, make it seem ridiculous.
(29:31) This is the scene I like the least, where I’m sitting on the couch, while my darling husband is over in the office, working and supporting his stay-at-home wife. I work, too!
Overall, it’s definitely not the worst thing in the world. I’m shocked at the sound of my voice, and my terrible acting skills make me blush something fierce, but I’m comfortable with the fact that it’s out there for the world to see (and judge). Thankfully, everybody who’s left a comment or sent me an email has been incredibly nice. I even went against my better judgement and looked around the Internet to see if people were writing about it elsewhere. And they were! I found a message board of HHI fans, and they also wrote exceedingly nice things about the episode.
So there it is, my adventure on TV. If I had to do it over, I would’ve tried to plan out what I would say and maybe attempt to make it more interesting, other than just saying “Yeah” with my Philly accent all the time. If I had my choice of TV shows to participate in, HHI would not be my first choice; it’s a dream for me to get Anthony Bourdain to come out here and film an episode of “No Reservations.” I think Farrell and I could show him a good time.
Who knows, maybe that could be our next TV appearance?