Home sick: Snap judgments on new Apple TV+ architecture docuseries [Review]

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Apple TV+ Home review:
Apple's new architecture docuseries is half-inspiring, half-insufferable.
Photo: Apple TV+

Home, the new Apple TV+ docuseries about unconventional structures designed by unorthodox architects, is — surprise, surprise — as much a mixed a bag as anything else on the streaming service.

The nine-episode series, available to watch Friday, provides a window into homes and the ethos, hardship and breakthroughs that lead to their creation. It would be an understatement to say that some episodes prove more interesting than others.

Home review

Each episode of the TV-PG series takes its title from a place name where the architect built something special. The Home trailer, released Friday (and viewable below), showcases the profiled architects’ various approaches to design.

Here’s a rundown of what’s going on in each episode. It should help clue you in on which ones to watch first — and which ones to skip entirely.

‘Sweden’

Directed by Matt Tyrnauer, one of the show’s producers, the first episode focuses on architects in Sweden who built an eco-friendly home for their family. Despite the household’s compelling hardships, there’s nevertheless a sense of privilege that’s tough to shake. The only reason this family can create its dream green home is because money appears to be limitless.

‘Chicago’

The second episode follows artist Theaster Gates as he reminisces about transforming his little corner of Chicago’s South Side through house renovation to create community spaces. The designs are amazing and the goal is humbling, making this one of the first season’s best.

‘Bali’

The story of designer Elora Hardy moving from Canada to Bali to make homes out of bamboo is dreadfully earnest. Hardy’s myopic view of her work and privilege and art gets old quick, and it’s difficult to find the way she drew inspiration from Donna Karan as interesting as she does. Her attitude keeps the whole thing in the rarefied and boring world of boutique design.

‘Hong Kong’

Architect and designer Gary Chang discusses how to make the most of the spaces allotted to too many people in Hong Kong. The city deals with an enormous population, with far too little space to situate them. Chang’s developments seem like precisely the kind of pragmatic solution that could turn a lot of people’s lives around. Unfortunately, the episode gets cut slightly short due to the producer’s decision to subtitle Chang’s accented English — and only Chang’s. It’s a patronizing misstep.

A green greenhouse on the Apple TV+ series Home.
A green greenhouse on the Apple TV+ series Home.
Photo: Apple TV+

‘Maine’

This one delves into Anthony Esteves’ admittedly gorgeous Soot House in the middle of nowhere in New England. The episode brims with gorgeous views — and lots of prattle about natural living and home births. There’s no acknowledgement that Esteves and his wife can afford to live closer to the spirit of the earth because they were born into wealth.

‘India’

Architect Anupama Kundoo is the focus of this episode. It proves as open and lovable as her much-talked about creation, Wall House in Tamil Nadu, India. Her journey to unapologetic firebrand, and the way she rejected so much of the Western design and city-planning measures foisted on Indian society, is as stirring as it is inspirational.

‘Austin’

Sci-fi author Chris Brown and designer Agustina Rodriguez talk about building the gorgeous Edgeland House in Texas, a testament to the community’s effort to stop a pipeline’s construction on the land. This episode’s emphasis on responding to the land on which we build is infectious. And the house is to die for. It’s Home’s kookiest entry, and one of the most enjoyable.

‘Malibu’

The house under consideration in this episode is called Xanabu, as in Xanadu plus Malibu. If you need more information than that, I cannot help you.

‘Mexico’

This one basically makes up for all of Home’s weak episodes. It shows us the work of New Story, a nonprofit that gives poor families housing. In this episode, we see them providing a 3D-printed house to a low-income family in Mexico, using a machine called the Vulcan II that can print a house in 24 hours. This episode is as fascinating as it is necessary.

Watch on: Apple TV+ (subscription required)

Scout Tafoya is a film and TV critic, director and creator of the long-running video essay series The Unloved for RogerEbert.com. He has written for The Village Voice, Film Comment, The Los Angeles Review of Books and Nylon Magazine. He is the director of 25 feature films, and the author of more than 300 video essays, which can be found at Patreon.com/honorszombie.