On the surface, ABC’s hit '90s sitcom Home Improvement is wholesome family entertainment. The show followed the tool-obsessed Tim Taylor (Tim Allen), who instructed the viewers of his TV show, Tool Time, how to fix things around their houses - even though he continuously destroyed his own home with a series of overpowered gadgets while his wife and sons looked on. Look a little deeper, though, and the disturbing hidden meanings of the show become clear. The Home Improvement cast wouldn't admit this, but it's obvious throughout the show that Tim Taylor lost his damn mind. If you spent the '90s watching Tim Taylor try to keep his family from falling apart, then you no doubt realize that Home Improvement is an existential hellscape. But if you managed to miss the subtext hidden in each episode, continue reading for a thorough examination of Home Improvement theories.
Home Improvement isn’t the only piece of popular entertainment with a potential dark side, but it is one of the few that seems to wear its contempt for its characters on its sleeve. The horrifying things about Home Improvement not only stem from Tim’s apparent hatred for his family and paranoia about his wife’s desire to find a life outside of the home, but also from the possibility that the series may never have actually happened - or at least it may not have happened how it was presented. Out of all the sitcoms stricken with ennui, Home Improvement may be the most existentially frayed, and its self-destructive nature is well worth diving into.
Al Might Have Been Homeless
All of the signs of Al's homelessness were obvious from the onset: he always wore the same shirt, grew out his beard for warmth, and jumped at the chance to enter a relationship with a woman, no matter how demeaning she was towards him, all so he could sleep in a warm bed before returning to the warm lights of the television studio. If only Tim and Jill had paid attention to their friend's plight.
Tim And Jill's Relationship Seemed Violent
Tim and Jill seem to dislike each other, and it's possible that that disdain curdled into full-blown hatred. Tim's frustrations boil over in every episode, and he ends up destroying a piece of their furniture to work out his personal demons - a textbook sign of something worse happening in the home. The series doesn't shy away from showing Tim and Jill arguing over his lack of desire to go to the opera or complete their will, but it does keep any potential physical violence off screen.
Tim Had A Death Wish
Tim Taylor seemed destined for a gruesome death caused by one of his crazy contraptions. His character is presented as being accident prone, but people aren't made the host of long running, popular home improvement programs if they're that clumsy. Maybe Tim was bored with his life, and was looking for a final way out. What better way for the tool man to pass beyond this mortal coil than by being destroyed by one of his own machines?
Tim Had Toxic Disdain For His Wife And Children
Even if you've only seen a handful of episodes of Home Improvement, you're aware of the disgust that Tim Taylor feels towards his family. All he wants to do is work on his hot rod and be applauded on his show, but day in and day out he's forced to pretend to care about the issues that his family faces.
Jill, his wife, constantly asserts her independence: first, she leaves the nest to continue her education, and then she begins to work for a magazine which puts her in direct competition with Tim's identity as the media personality in the home. And out of his three children, none of them have ever shown interest in their father's world. Even Brad, the sporty oldest son, fails to show any enthusiasm for tools. Maybe their lack of interest in fawning over Tim drove him to his attempts to control every appliance and machine around him.
The Beach Boys Made Wilson A Recluse
In the Season 6 episode "The Karate Kid Returns," it's revealed that Wilson (whose full name is Wilson A. Wilson) is related to the Wilsons from The Beach Boys. The Wilson family was notoriously contentious, and their constant in-fighting drove songwriter Brian Wilson to become a recluse living in a recording studio/sandbox. Could the same thing have happened to Home Improvement's Wilson? Was his home a wasteland of unused recordings about his love of the 405 highway and the endless summer? Was he driven to the freezing plains of Michigan out of the betrayal he felt every time he set eyes on the sunny beaches of Southern California?
Tim's Fear Of Death Was Tied To His Unfinished Hot Rod
Tim's garage is a place of constant construction. His hot rod sits uncompleted for much of the series, either due to his inability to finish anything important that he starts, or because he feels that his hot rod is his final project. What does a man have left to do once his proves his worth as the host of a regional home improvement show and has three children? Tim has tasted success and ensured his legacy, and now there is nothing left for him other than death.
Brad And Randy Tortured Mark
As the youngest child, Mark was already under the intense scrutiny of his older brothers Brad and Randy, but they seem especially out to get him. In each episode of the early series, the boys ruthlessly taunt their youngest sibling, insisting that he was meant to be born a girl, that Santa Claus died before he was born, and that he was adopted after his birth parents disposed of him on set of firehouse steps. They could be the reason that Mark eventually turned goth.
Wilson Slowly Drove Tim Insane
Wilson is the great unknown of Home Improvement. Is he real? If so, then why doesn't he ever leave his home, and why does Tim implicitly trust him? It seems that at some point Wilson endeared himself to Tim, and established an unhealthy relationship between the neighbors. Tim couldn't go about his normal life without consulting his mysterious friend, and Wilson could control his neighbor's every movement with a few vaguely poetic phrases.