Man, episode 12, 2 months ago. Not my favorite week, annd i’m not talking about the family (they were totally awesome and i love them) or the final design (which i like a lot). It’s what i call ‘the week that Emily von Henderson had her own version of a nervous breakdown in front of her crew who she loves’. At the time we were shooting 6 days a week, shopping on sundays and shooting a month straight before a week of prep, meaning i didn’t take a day off for a month. (i was asked continually not to work on sundays by my producers, but i did anyway…cause you can’t tell me what to do… no suh.).
This was week 4 and i was d.e.a.d. I was so tired, I was designing too fast. Being hasty. Throwing out decisions without weighing options.
On tuesday of that week i was told the ratings of the show. In my mind i thought the show was going to be a total slam dunk, best show in the history of hollywood, Oscars, emmy’s, pulitzers, peobody awards… the president of Show Business would call me and say ‘Congratulations Emily, your hard work has paid off, and ‘Secrets’ is the biggest success in the history of hollywood, and we would like you to be mayor and ambassador to the galaxy’.
i hope you know i’m exaggerating but you get the idea.
But the ratings were totally fine, normal for the network expectations for a new show, but not ‘that’. No one was worried. There was a lot of ‘its a new show’, ‘keep on truckin’, ‘don’t worry’, ‘lets just change the opening’, etc, but i couldn’t help but be devastated. That night my DP, Jeff (best camera guy ever) invited us all out to his boat for a drink in Marina Del Rey and I totally lost it. Sobbing for a couple hours in front of everyone (crews are like family, so i didn’t care, i just felt bad for them). I just felt so helpless. You can’t control everything. and that realization can be very very hard to come to terms with.
I’m sure everyone goes through this: you put EVERYTHING into something and if its not perfectly 100% received as the best thing that has ever happened to the world, then you are just devastated.
So thursday rolled around and i was doing the shopping segment at Weego Home. I could not for the life of me get a tip out without flubbing a syllable or having a grammatical mistake or looking weird…. i tried over and over and over and over, and became so totally frustrated with myself that I had this pillow in my hand and i remember squeezing it so hard, desperate to strangle it, kill it, every muscle in my body was flexed wanting to bring this pillow to textile death.
Instead, i dropped it, turned around, went to the bathroom in the back (which was near the backdoor so the crew thought i left) and stared at myself in the mirror, reminding myself that there is nothing to cry about because i LOVE MY JOB, ITS PRETTY MUCH THE BEST JOB IN THE WORLD. I knew the second i lost it i would LOSE it, as i am a VERY good crier (woulda won ‘crying star’ in a second, that’s for sure) and this would normally be fine, but not when you are on camera, with runny makeup and red, puffy eyes…it holds the whole production up. So i took really big breaths, in and out, desperate to stop those annoying, unnecessary, cry baby tears. It didn’t help.
I totally lost it. Face contortions. Gutteral noises. Yeah, the ‘pretty’ stuff.
It’s almost as if I was President of the United States Of America trying to stop a recession, restore the hope of a nation, and find and kill a d*ck head terrorist, whilst stopping child illiteray, etc.
Yep. just like that.
But here’s the deal, folks, it doesn’t matter what your job is, how insignificant you think it is, if you are tired and overwhelmed you are allowed to cry about it. For those of you you who might be thinking, ‘oh poor emily with the tv show, she’s soooo tired, get some perspective’. I say, officially, ‘screw you’. i have an intensely good perspective on life, which is why I deny feeling stressed out often, as if i don’t have the ‘right’ to be stressed because these are not real, actual problems. These are priveleged people problems. No one is sick, or dying. Its just home style and i am very well aware of it.
When you feel it, you feel it.
I still feel an intense amount of self-imposed pressure to make it a huge success. I mean, if i suck at it then the entire crew has to find new work (and hollywood isn’t exactly booming still), then i let the network down, who gave me this incredible job and put a lot of faith in my abilities. Then i will have squandered this insane opportunity and will forever wonder what i should have done different.
It would be like meeting the person of your dreams – that guy who you are like ‘Ah!!! Thats it, he is IT, completely and utterly perfect for me in every way, he makes sense to me, i can’t get enough of him, he makes me a better person and i want nothing more than to live the rest of my life with him‘ and knowing that if you lose them, if you mess this up, you will forever and ever, and ever regret it.
I don’t use the word ‘passionate’ lightly. I previously reserved it for things like my family, Brian and my friends. I think the word i passion is totally over-used. But i feel completely passionate about this show.
Woah, drama much, Emily?
Anyway, so after the mini-meltdown in the store, i came out of the bathroom (the director had taken off to try and find me) and with a huge grin i said, ‘Well, here’s a secret….. i’m having nervous breakdown’ and we all laughed – cause we are all friends and as much as i’m sure i can annoy everyone by telling them which angles i think are best (the art director in me has never died) and the order of content and tips, i know they care about me a lot (and vice versa) and they were worried. It was announced later that day that i would have more time to prep (total coincidence, actually) and then two weeks later i found out we were going down to only one very layered look for second season. Not because i had a nervous breakdown, nobody really even knew about that, but because the show would be better, more info, more styling, more time for personality, etc. And now, god, things are soooo much better. Ratings are great, i’m getting better at it, i have more free time, and i am confident that this is what i should be doing, meltdown or no meltdown.
And that’s my episode 12 min-melt down story. Which is why i chose that hideous carpet for first look. I ordered the carpet in five minutes based on a small swatch and i couldn’t see the pattern, because the pattern was bigger. When they rolled it out, i was like, ‘oh no. no. no. no. what? no. no. no. no.no. mom. mom. mom. mommy. mommy….help help help.’
I hated it. it hated me. I got permission to replace it and yeah, i did. I would have paid for it out of my own pocket. I would have sold bearcat, whored out Orlando, or sold my blonde locks to make that problem disappear.
That being said, i loved this family and still had such a great time with them and designing the space. It was just mentally a whirlwind of emotions that will actually make it one of the more memorable weeks of the first season.
So no, i did not plan to repaint and re-carpet. Not at all. This is my biggest mistake so far. But remember: being a good designer (and person) doesn’t mean being perfect all the time, it means knowing and admitting when you’ve made a mistake and fixing it. Life’s all about how you react to things.
Yes, i also write copy for after school specials. This special would be called ‘Just because you win a television show doesn’t mean you know how to handle the pressure’.
Starring, yours truly, Emily Von Henderson.
I love you guys, by the way. Thank god for this blog. I know i don’t have the time to get back to everyone and thank them, but i truly truly truly appreciate every single email and comment that i get. Honestly. Its incredibly moving and makes me feel so so so good, and i know that because of you this show now has great ratings, keeping the hgtv core audience and adding a whole new demographic. So, thank you. So much.