Not quite halfway through the first season of his new TV show, Operation Vacation, gay co-host Karl Schmid doesn’t shy from comparisons to one of the grand-daddies of reality/heart-tugging TV: “It’s just like Extreme Make-over: Home Edition, but with vacations,” he explains in his infectious Australian accent.
What Schmid means is that he and his co-host, Claire Newell, find deserving individuals—“the kinds of people who are always taking care of other people but never take care of themselves”—and, instead of building them a new house, they reward them with a fabulous vacation. “We sent one couple to Paris, we sent another man to the best fishing lodges of northern Canada, and we sent one girl to Disneyland.”
And then, just like Extreme Makeover, everyone on screen (and likely everyone watching the screen) starts crying when Schmid and Newell surprise their exhausted subjects with the vacation of their dreams. “Every surprise we do on the show, I have to keep myself from crying,” he says.
Operation Vacation is a new series for LogoTV and represents a new direction for the network. “Logo started out as a gay channel, but their ethos has changed, to go beyond labels and stereotypes,” Schmid says. “I’m not knocking RuPaul, but it’s nice to have a show that has a positive spin, something that’s not an elimination show, where so many people are being knocked down.”
But has LogoTV gone too far in its new direction? Other than Schmid, there are no gay people featured on Operation Vacation. “That’s a question I brought up, ‘Why aren’t we sending any gay people around the world?’ he says. “And I was told that there weren’t any gay people who submitted applications for consideration.” That’s something he hopes will change if the show is picked up for a second season.
Most importantly, Schmid hopes Operation Vacation makes people more aware of importance of vacation. “Travel opens your eyes, opens your minds, and sometimes puts you out of your comfort zone,” he says. “We’re very serious about helping people discover the worlds beyond their backyards.
Operation Vacation airs Saturday on LogoTV. Check local listings for specific times. Watch a full episode of the show below.