CONCORD, N.H. – They made you laugh, but can they make you craft?
“Parks and Recreation” co-stars Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman are bringing the same silly, sweet sitcom vibe to reality television with “Making It,” a competition show that challenges contestants to craft everything from Halloween costumes to lawn furniture. Airing Tuesday nights on NBC, the show offers up an unapologetic antidote to bleak current events.
“Life is stressful enough,” Poehler says in the opening episode. “Let’s make a show that makes people feel good.”
That includes the contestants, who happily cut and glue without being cut-throat, sometimes even helping each other if they finished a project early. Nicole Sweeney, an artist and woodworker from San Francisco, said she entered the competition nervous and excited but emerged empowered.
“They wanted to tell our stories and they believed in us, and in kind of in a weird way made me believe in myself more,” she said. “Even though it was a competition, in so many ways it didn’t feel that way. It just felt like this incredible experience where I got to be surrounded by these other amazing artists and do what I love, and then have amazing feedback from the judges and get to hang out with Nick and Amy. It was such a dream.”
The judges are famed Barneys window designer Simon Doonan and Etsy trend expert Dayna Isom Johnson. While both judges assessed how well makers executed the given theme for each project and the craftsmanship of their work, Johnson said they took slightly different approaches. Doonan was particularly interested in whether the makers were taking risks and pushing themselves, while she was looking for a “wow” factor, something that would jump out at her among the deluge of items she sees every day on Etsy.com.
The show is replete with puns – “I macramade you and I can macrabreak you just as easily,” says Poehler. “This conversation makes me want to lay down and DIY,” Offerman answers. But Johnson said the more serious goal is to inspire viewers to embrace their own creativity. As springboards, she cited two big trends in the crafting and design world – the Danish concept of “hygge” that emphasizes cozy living, and the Japanese notion of wabi sabi which finds beauty in imperfection.
“I think the next phase of that is, ‘OK, you’re home, now what do you do?’ Maybe you’re spending time with family and friends and hopefully you’re getting creative and making things together,” she said.
Offerman, a skilled woodworker himself, said he and Poehler were grateful they didn’t have to judge the projects but could instead offer encouragement as they got to know the contestants.
“Every day, I was inspired by the creativity of the makers and would often think to myself, ‘Wow, I think I can do that,’ although I have no experience with knitting or glass blowing,” he said. “I hope viewers at home feel the same inspiration.”