'Clean House' Cleans Up Nicely for Awards Gala


While it may seem counterintuitive to ask families who've been through reality-TV trauma in order to rid themselves of clutter to then take a trophy home, where it can collect dust on a forcibly cleared mantel or shelf, nevertheless, on Sunday, Aug. 31, Style Network airs the "Clean House 100th Episode: The Dirty Little Awards Show."

On "Clean House" itself, which airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. (ET/PT) on Style, host Niecy Nash and her team arrive at a home and talk the inhabitants into parting with their mounds of clutter and abandoning their slovenly ways -- achieved through a combination of psychology, tough love, straight talk and bribery.

They then sell the excess items at a yard sale to raise cash to help in the redecorating of the home (the show covers the costs of cleaning, repairs and paint).

In the 90-minute "Dirty Little Awards Show," the "Clean House" alumni walk the red carpet in Hollywood, then participate in a ceremony with Nash and her current team: yard-sale "diva" Trish Suhr, designer Mark Brunetz and "go-to guy" Matt Iseman.

"What amazed me," Iseman says, "and I didn't appreciate it until I was there seeing all the families coming along on the red carpet, was all the memories we have of them.

"And they all regarded it as a positive experience, even the ones who might have been a little difficult, even the ones who let their house go a little bit. It was fun. Everybody dressed up. We did the red carpet where we interviewed them, talked about their experiences."

One question hung over the evening.

"For the fans and us," Iseman says, "the thing you want to know is, 'Did they keep it up?' It was great because we got to go back and revisit some of the houses and answer the question."

In clips, the "Clean House" team is seen revisiting former participants and inspecting rooms to see if they qualify either for praise or for censure.

"We had awards," Iseman says, "for the people who kept the house the best or the worst, kept one room the best or the worst. There are also the people who had the oddest collections, who'd gone back and made ridiculous purchases. Even though some of them showed the habits that got them there in the first place, they were a lot more restrained.

"But some of the things these people bought ... a six-foot-tall teddy bear. When you see that, you just think, 'I'm going to see that in a yard sale someday.'"

While the crew has changed over the years, one constant is Nash, who uses her comedic skills, laced with liberal doses of compassion and confrontation, to get to the root cause of why the houses have deteriorated into, as she puts it, "mayhem and foolishness."

Along the way, the inhabitants often reveal more than they expected.

"It's amazing when they think they'll be able to keep their emotions in check all the time," says Iseman. "When you're there for seven days, and you have to give up your stuff, eventually the real emotions come out.

"It's amazing how people are surprised that it happens to them."

There have been guest hosts on the show, including when Nash was in Miami filming the movie version of her Comedy Central series "Reno: 911!"

Now, Nash has a sitcom called "Do Not Disturb" (which shares two producers with "Reno: 911!") premiering Sept. 10 on FOX. If it's a hit, she may find it difficult to do both jobs at once.

Asked what could happen then, Iseman says, "We don't know. Niecy's always going to be a part of 'Clean House.'"

The most recent guest host was Lisa Arch, who also was host of special that premiered Aug. 20, which revisited the Loria family from New Jersey. Sue Loria and her two grown daughters were the subject of the show's first "Messiest Home in the Country" special in 2007.

Arch's appearance there and in her regular "Clean House" episode, which premiered Aug. 27, generated mixed feedback on the show's online forums.

Iseman acknowledges that it's challenging for anyone to step in for Nash, saying, "Niecy has large shoes for anyone to fill. It's hard to talk to people, come from a place of authority, not be condescending and to confront people.

"Look, if it were an easy process, they wouldn't need us. To be able to sit down and talk a family through their issues and try to turn the page on them is a gift."

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