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When Claude Taylor started his Room Rater account on Twitter (@ratemyskyperoom) in April, it was to continue the jokes he and his girlfriend were making with each other about cable news talking heads’ bleak film-from-home setups.
Four months and nearly 300,000 followers later, he’s established a hard 10-point scale with points for room depth, art, flowers, lighting and camera angle — “You can’t get above a seven if you’re shooting from the ground” — and has expanded his initially political figure-focused lens to include stars like Ryan Reynolds, Jeff Bridges, Tyra Banks, David Lynch, Thandie Newton and Colin Jost — and their rooms, of course.
Taylor, who chairs left-leaning, anti-Trump PAC Mad Dog, can be a harsh critic, especially for those who don’t share his political beliefs — i.e. U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, who was rated a 0/10 for being “soulless and aloof.” Judd Apatow, who received an 8/10 and a comment about his messy book stacks, defended his room in a tweeted reply as “semi categorized. It’s not hoarding if all your stuff is awesome.”
Others, like MSNBC’s Joy Reid, have turned the criticism into self-improvement, finally earning a 10/10 on July 23 after multiple lower scores. She tweeted, “I feel like I have truly, finally made it … You like my room. You really like my room,” and thanked her interior designer and PR team.
I feel like I have truly, finally made it. I’d like to thank my interior designer, Donovon Bradford, my PR team at @MSNBC, the @ratemyskyperoom judges, and of course @sethmeyers for making this all possible… thank you all. You like my room. You really like my room… https://t.co/ADkpcZXM3X
— Joy Reid (@JoyAnnReid) July 23, 2020
“You’ve got to have a dream, and one of my dreams has been to get a high rating on Room Rater,” Reid tells THR. “It’s one of the rare good things to come out of this era. It’s so much fun to scroll through and has become one of my favorite follows. The style critiques! The snark! It’s fabulous.”
Says Taylor, “It was a privilege to be able to give her the 10/10 because she earned it.”
— Joy Reid (@JoyAnnReid) July 20, 2020
And now that Zoom is the norm for talk shows, nightly news and morning programs, Taylor takes pride in the decline of what he calls the hostage video — aka shooting interviews against a blank white wall. “People realize that if we see [that kind of] room, we’re going to make fun of them.”
Beyond room-shaming, the account also has a charitable aspect. His Mad Dog political action committee (to which his Twitter account links) raises money to donate medical gear and so far has brought in enough to deliver 175,000 reusable face masks to Navajo Nation, which Taylor focused on when it became clear that Native American communities were being disproportionately left out of PPE distribution.
At the end of the day, though, he emphasizes that the account is mostly just for fun and shouldn’t be taken too seriously by fans or the celebrities he’s critiquing: “We’re really not trying to cure cancer here. We’re just rating people’s Skype rooms.”
This story first appeared in the Aug. 12 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.
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