One of my favorite television stations is HGTV. I have really enjoy several of the past shows like Design Star, Design on a Dime, and Color Splash as well as current shows like Fixer Upper, Property Brothers, and Love It or List It. They are all great shows that have interesting takes on home improvement, but more than that, they also feature a pair of hosts who clearly enjoy what they are doing and have an interesting relationship/friendship with each other both on and off screen.
Fixer Upper stars Chip and Joanna Gaines are a married couple who work together in the Waco, TX area, helping people to find fixer uppers that can be renovated into their dream home. Chip and Joanna are married with kids, they have dozens of animals, and their farm is gorgeous. They work well together and respect each other even when they are goofing off on camera. Plus, they have great design taste. Joanna can take weird little run down houses and turn them into something cozy, warm, and wonderful. Chip does a great job bringing Joanna’s visions to life by building those dreams, repairing the cracks, and retaining the old charm despite the need for new updates. He is completely ridiculous and she often plays the straight man next to Chip, but do not be fooled. She’s just as funny. Together, when they get designing, they are truly a delight to watch.
Property Brothers Jonathan and Drew Scott are twin brothers who work together to help people find their fixer upper dream home. The premise is similar to Fixer Upper. However, Drew comes at the process as the real estate agent who shows people the exact kind of house they want, but it is far outside of their price range. Then he shows them some fixer upper homes and Jonathan tells them how he can renovate it to be exactly what they want. It’s a nice angle that does a great job of setting expectations for buyers, and viewers don’t feel like they’re watching the same ‘0l show. Plus, Jonathan and Drew clearly have a lot of fun working together and are a joy to watch. You also get a taste of how difficult it can be to do a renovation and get it in on time and under budget when the homeowners are either indecisive or constantly changing their minds. In addition, you’ll actually learn quite a lot about construction since Jonathan does a great job of explaining why they make the decisions that they make.
Love It or List It rounds out my top three favorite programs on HGTV. Hosts Hillary Farr and David Visentin put their own special twist on the dream home theme. Hillary takes a look at the homeowner’s current house and based upon their desires, redesigns their home into their dream home while realtor David takes them out to look at possible dream homes to purchase that also fit all or their wish list items. David and Hillary are a quirky team that are very much in friendly competition with each other, and it can be hilarious. One homeowner is on Hillary’s side and one homeowner is on David’s side, and it is a contest to the end to see if the homeowners will love what Hillary did or prefer the home that David showed them. Thus the title of the show: Love It or List It! One thing you also get from this show is a taste for the unexpected during the construction process that can upend even the best laid plans for turning your house into your dream home. I should also note that there is a cookie cutter spin off of this show, but it just doesn’t capture the relationship and fun that David and Hillary have on camera.
But wait, there’s more!
These three shows do a great job of having fun and breaking barriers in their own way, which keeps them feeling fresh and new from season to season to season. For me, these shows are the reason I keep watching HGTV. However, the network has an annoying habit of trying to replicate the working shows by creating cookie cutter programs that just don’t feel all that creative or interesting.
Another show I enjoy is Flip or Flop , it’s not my favorite show, but I do like seeing how investors choose a house and then turn it into a really nice piece of property that they then sell on the real estate market. While I like the show, I miss the homeowner interaction, but on the positive side you get to see how this houses are acquired at rock bottom prices and then turned into incredible dream homes. Sometimes they make a little money; sometimes they make a lot of money. In every case, the houses that Flip or Flop hosts Tarek and Christina el Mousa take on are truly scary endeavors. Tarek seems to have a talent for finding money maker properties while Christina’s design skill is truly superb. However, (perhaps due to their marital woes?) HGTV is now coming up with some cookie cutter spinoffs that don’t just have the same premise, but the hosts look like carbon copies of Tarek and Christina, which I truly dislike.
It just feels so unoriginal and thoughtless in its creation. The utter lack of originality and creativity bores me. Since this isn’t the first time that HGTV has done something like this, it truly makes me wonder how the network can continue without updating itself a bit, especially since there are so many fantastic ideas that they and their production companies an pursue. Truly, the more I see commercials for this new version of Flip or Flop series, the more I wonder “Couldn’t they think of something interesting and now…or something that features some non white hosts?”
The lack of diversity within the HGTV hosts got me to thinking…
I went looking for ways to suggest shows and (of course) they don’t take suggestions for legal reasons. Still, I have some ideas that I’d like to see on HGTV and since I can’t officially submit them to the network, I thought sharing my ideas here would be fun. I’d love to know what you think of these ideas. So, here are my ideas are in no particular order:
Rebuilding New Orleans: I’d love to see a series that features the houses and neighborhood in parishes that are still trying to recover from Hurricane Katrina or other natural disasters. I’d like to see homeowners who get help to bring their homes back to the original (or better) standard. I’d like to hear about how they can refit and reinforce houses to withstand different natural forces. I’d also like to hear some of the stories about when then house was damaged an the struggles involved with getting the house rebuilt or repaired. Plus, there would be a lot of potential for sharing history and architecture from this unique and interesting region.
Saving the City: It would be so interesting to see a show that focuses on restoring neighborhood blocks in a place like Detroit. There are hundreds of homes that have fallen into the category of derelict houses and the show could take this dying structures, renovate them, and then give the house to a family in need. It would be a really wonderful way to revitalize a struggling neighborhood. Plus, viewers would see what it takes to save these houses and why it’s important. We could even learn the story of the houses, the neighborhood, and the new owners who would pitch in to save these homes.
Local Style: A show that dives into a region with a really strong design esthetic from season to season would be fascinating. One season could focus on a place like Miami to feature Spanish and Latino design and architecture. It could look at these both residential and business properties in order to really dive into something new and unique. Another season could take us to a place like Chinatown in New York City, the southwest style in Albuquerque, or the Victorian gingerbread cottages on Martha’s Vineyard. The show would only be limited by the number of unique cultures and architectural styles that are available to feature, and that supply is pretty broad in scope.
My direct plea to HGTV:
Dear HGTV production companies, I would really love to see shows that step outside of the current set of series that stay very firmly in the safety zone for home improvement. I doubt that I am the the only person who is looking for some new HGTV shows that delve into a wider variety of of structures, styles, themes, and people. While I do love shows like Fixer Upper, Property Brothers, and Love It or List It, I think it’s time to explore a wider market of home improvement shows.