Flip or STOP

HGTV is beating a dead horse with countless renovation shows

Greta Kooy // Campus Life Editor

It’s the age-old love story. An interior designer meets a contractor or realtor, they kiss, fall in love and sign a contract with HGTV. Their show is called White People Renovating Houses. Just kidding, but thank you South Park. As funny as that episode was, there is also a fair deal of truth to it. The fact is, there are just too damn many home renovation shows, and it needs to stop.

House Hunters, Fixer Upper, Love It or List It, Texas Flip N Move, My Flippin’ Friends, Flip or Flop, Flip or Flop Vegas, Flip or Flop Fort Worth, Flip or Flop Nashville and so on. It’s exhausting just reading all of that, let alone actually watching the shows.

When House Hunters hit the airwaves in 1999, HGTV took a devious turn from simple shows about DIY crafts and small, affordable renovations to shows about full-on buying a new house.

Although earlier episodes weren’t quite so picturesque, by the end of a House Hunters episode today a couple will have shared their life story, cried at least twice, struggled to choose between three prospective properties (one of which they already bought prior to filming) and moved in. Pure HGTV bliss. There’s a reason these shows are so addictive. HGTV has whipped up the perfect cocktail of drama, disappointments, frustration and panic and then topped it off with Ken and Barbie lookalikes swinging sledge hammers and panning through paint swatches.

These shows are for the domestic escapist, looking to have a peek into other people’s laundry, bed and bathrooms, all in a completely legal, not-creepy-at-all way.

But loyal HGTV viewers are starting to get bored with the network’s cut and paste regurgitation of the same old bullshit. In fact, these home renovation and fixer-upper shows make up 65 per cent of the network’s content, leaving little room for anything else. Two years ago, HGTV ranked third in cable networks with their highest-rated shows being made up mostly of home renovation programs. In 2017 however, HGTV dropped down to number five.

Now, it’s difficult to say whether this decline is due to the network’s decision to run the same shows over and over with slightly different looking people, but it’s a good assumption.

While shows like House Hunters are still immensely popular, the network’s bread and butter these days are shows not just about buying houses, but completely gutting and renovating them.

The Property Brothers, Drew and Jonathan Scott, were the precursors to this change. Their show has all the great quirks of House Hunters, but rather than simply helping a couple find and choose their dream home, they help build it. The brothers are charming, handsome and have the much-needed art of witty repartee and banter.

The Property Brothers aren’t exactly “flippers”, but they ignited the lust for watching men with hammers bludgeon walls and their wives match pillows to the wallpaper. There’s something surreal about watching a cookie cutter couple, him in overalls and a plaid shirt and her in skinny jeans and Louboutins, walk through a rat-infested crack house and say “Yup. This is the one” and then turn it into a stunning open floor concept haven built for a family of four and their Golden Retriever.

HGTV viewers aren’t stupid. Not all of them at least. They’re aware of scripts and post-production editing, and none of that seems to be an issue. It’s when the initial excitement wears off that we can see just how truly unoriginal this programming is, and how we’ve been suckered into it.

HGTV certainly isn’t for everybody, and these shows cater to a very particular demographic. But what happens when that demographic is no longer satisfied with the content that the network is providing? So far, it seems as though HGTV has no intention of cutting back on home renovation programming, and unfortunately for them viewers are losing a great deal of interest.

There’s no problem with renovation shows; they’re exciting to watch and can be very informative. It’s the type of renovations that are being done, and who is facilitating them. Anybody with half a brain could flip a house.

Perhaps HGTV could entice viewers back into watching their shows if they could figure out a way to make a show out of renovating a school, or rehabilitation house for example.

It’s time for the network to move away from the same old, same old and start producing quality shows that have more to do with real life circumstances.

One Comment

  1. Hi, interesting point you make and I agree. Far too “ staged “ or scripted. I get it, small time slots to turn around an entire makeover. I’m an interior decorator in a small town in rural British Columbia. I work in the renovation world daily, have been for the past 13 years. Yes, new builds as well. I love the possibilities in a renovation, thinking beyond the norm.

    Well I’ve bought a lot in our downtown core and am about to embark on renovating the existing structure to be my new studio, I jokingly have talked about getting back to putting on the steel toed boots, a hard hat and gloves and getting dirty with it. Most have suggested I need it to be scripted….. I disagree. It needs to be real. It needs to be raw,. Maybe it’s not valuable for televising but it’s going to be true to me. Thought I should at least have fun with the adventure and at the very least record the process. I have a unique plan in store for the remainder of the lot, but it’s a phased development.

    Anyways, thanks for telling it like it is. Appreciated by bj design interiors..

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