If there was a gold medal for “most reality TV shows featuring yourself,” it would go to Tori Spelling. She has been on a show where she, along with her husband, Dean, runs a bed and breakfast, one that follows the crazy misadventures of their everyday life and one where they plan dream weddings.

If there was a gold medal for “most reality TV shows featuring yourself,” it would go to Tori Spelling. She has been on a show where she, along with her husband, Dean, runs a bed and breakfast, one that follows the crazy misadventures of their everyday life and one where they plan dream weddings.


In her latest effort, Tori is the host of TLC's “Craft Wars,” a competition where several keen “crafters” test their skills with glitter and glue guns. The contestants face off in a series of challenges where they are given a theme and a collection of materials that they must incorporate into their finished product. The winner receives a cash prize of $10,000. Spelling, who claims to be a serious crafter, guides the contestants through the challenges and offers advice along the way. The final decision of who wins the weekly “war” is left to a panel of judges who have titles including “creative expert.”


I'm certainly not a creative expert, and the last craft I did involved popsicle sticks and pipe cleaners, but I'm pretty sure I can tell the difference between a skilled craft project and one that looks like something I might have done in grade school art class. Unfortunately, most of the crafts created by the men and women on this show are a hot glue mess. On a wedding challenge episode, one crafter made a wishing tree hung with paper garland doused in glitter. Her competitor spelled out words with yarn glued to signs. The yarn signs were a better idea than they sound but the paper glitter tree was straight out of a summer camp craft lesson.


When the crafters on another episode were asked to make pet mansions (no mere dog or cat houses for this show), the skill level increased in terms of construction but not in terms of creativity. The challenge was to build a two level pet house and use various dog and cat toys in a unique way. While one contestant wove leashes together to create a mat, the other hung a few squeak toys from the ceiling and placed dog bones artfully against a food bowl. Not exactly an exciting use of materials.


So after a few episodes I was left wondering: Do crafting and pressure really go together? I imagine it as more of a calm, relaxing process where you take your time and seek out what inspires you rather than being told to say, create a toy box out of random toys in one hour. There are a lot of activities that may lend themselves to the reality competition format, but I'm not sure this is one of them.


I will say that what this show lacks in crafting creativity, it makes up for in verbal creativity. When evaluating the pet mansion contest, one judge called a crafter's project “straight out of architectural dog-gest.” Then there was the challenger who wondered: “Is it pretty or a craftastrophe?” I know what my answer is. I wonder what Tori would say.


Melissa Crawley is the author of “Mr. Sorkin Goes to Washington: Shaping the President on Television's 'The West Wing.’” She has a PhD in media studies and is a member of the Television Critics Association. To comment on Stay Tuned, email her at staytuned@outlook.com or follow her on Twitter at @MelissaCrawley.