(Please welcome Ed Begley, Jr, star of HGTV Series Living With Ed in the comments — jh)
A resident of the very suburban neighborhood of Studio City in the San Fernando Valley, Ed Begley, Jr. has been a local fixture — well, forever. As an actor he’s appeared in just about every major television show since the late 60s, and he’s worked with just about every star you can name. Kevin Bacon’s got nothing on Six Degrees of Ed Begley.
Ed’s commitment to sustainable living and environmental causes is legendary. He reliably appears at every environmental event in LA, and looms large in the conscience of all environmentally conscious Los Angeleans. I mentioned in my review of his book that I’d heard that Ed only produces 10 lbs of trash a year, and for at least a decade I think to myself "what would Ed do" every time I throw something away. In the series Helen Hunt feels she must apologize to Ed for wasting electricity. Mario Van Peebles says his mother wants him to be more like Ed.
Ed’s HGTV series, Living With Ed, is a reality TV show set in Ned’s Studio City neighborhood and features him and his wife Rachelle and their adventures in environmentally progressive living. Ed is a bit of an eccentric green crank who refuses to throw anything away (the 10 lbs of trash thing appears to be true), and Rachelle is sort of eye-rollingly tolerant of his obsession. In addition to using their home as a conservationist Petri dish, they travel around to the green homes of friends like Jackson Brown (who is completely off the grid), Larry Hagman (who has a Malibu hillside covered in $750,000 worth of solar panels), Cheryl Tiegs and Bruce Vilanche just to name a few.
What makes the show so appealing is the utterly ordinary suburban setting populated by familiar faces whose "keeping up with the Joneses" culture is all based around who has the most green stuff. As a former resident of Nichols Canyon, Studio City was my closest commercial center and it’s notable because when you’re standing in line in Trader Joe’s the guy who looks like Gene Hackman probably is Gene Hackman. Ed’s friends are a mixture of environmental enthusiasts and celebrities, and his friendly rivalry with neighbor Bill Nye is a constant game of one-upsmanship that runs throughout the series.
I watched it with a hopeful eye that this could be the world we’ll all be living in a couple of years from now, where a power meter spinning backwards is the ultimate status symbol and neighbors compete for who’s got the best compost pile. But then again, Ed has always been ahead of the curve.
I learned about tons of cool stuff that I would love to incorporate into my life. I saw how much I’ll save from using incandescent lights on the easy end, to personal windmills that can be mounted on the roof at a more serious level of commitment. It’s a really delightful series that shows how good it feels when people accept the challenge of living in a more environmentally responsible way, and it made me laugh a lot.
What more can you ask?