Did you think TLC couldn’t possibly add another reality show to its lineup? You thought wrong. “Flowers Uncut” follows the career of Jeff Leatham, a former male model and celebrity florist nicknamed “The Rock’n’Roll Florist” — a reference to his no-holds-barred style of flower arrangement. In the half-hour show, Jeff creates flower arrangements for dozens of events and attempts to keep his team of assistants in check.
Wednesdays at 10 p.m.
Since every reality show is built around the same basic conventions (sit-down interviews, montages set to music and a seemingly insurmountable problem that is always resolved by the program’s end), the feature that often determines success or failure of a show is its protagonist. And Leatham is a smart choice. Despite his outwardly polished demeanor, he’s goofy and endearingly vulnerable. His single-minded dedication to flowers, and the importance of a perfect arrangement is charmingly over-the-top.
In one scene, Leatham teaches the basic principles of arrangement to a group of impoverished mothers and then critiques their bombastic ribbon-tying methods. “This isn’t a fashion show; it’s a flower show,” he lectures. In another, his obsessive flower devotion is displayed when he glances around the workspace as he’s arranging flowers. “Hopefully around 4:30 or 5 o’clock, this room will be like an enchanted forest of trees and love,” he gushes, attired in a bowler hat complete with oversized flower pin. “I just want to create a corner of fantasy and happiness.”
Although every career has its moments of strife, the field of flower arranging is not exactly fraught with drama. TLC’s producers seem to struggle with this noneventfulness, honing in on any slight misstep to up the tension quotient. One major plot point is when a few vases break prior to a benefit, sending the “Flowers Uncut” team into a tizzy: “I don’t care if those vases are fucking broken!” Leatham yells. “Go and get some more!” Another calamity arises when Leatham notes that several flower pots have hand-print smudges on them. “We have a problem,” he says dramatically. “The pots are dirty.”
The biggest flaw in “Flowers Uncut” is that it’s extremely similar to other TLC reality programming — the show focuses the majority of its energy on random celebrity cameos and over-done sit-down interviews about its subject, the beauty and power of flowers. It seems obvious that the focal point of a show about flower arranging would be about the resulting flower arrangements, but little time is spent displaying the finished product.
Leatham’s creative process would be interesting if coupled with the actual construction process, but these important aspects are brushed aside in favor of pointless side-stories about topics like consuming edible flowers. The episode ends with rap pioneer Grandmaster Flash congratulating Leatham on a job well done, which is undoubtedly entertaining for the miniscule subset of TLC reality programming fans who enjoy early 1980s hip hop but still baffling to the 40-something women who will likely make up most of the show’s audience.
“Flowers” isn’t must-see TV, but it’s an entertaining diversion and a positive step away from TLC’s overload of programs focusing on freakishly oversized families. While it might not shed a huge amount of light on the flower arrangement business, Leatham is entertaining enough so it doesn’t matter.