HGTV’s hit show Fixer Upper, on which Chip and Joanna Gaines transform a home in Waco, Texas, does the exact same thing House Hunters does: it fakes the actual house search.
The hit series, which returns for its fourth season Nov. 29, is now “one of the highest-rated series in HGTV’s history, attracting more than 25 million viewers,” according to the network.
“You have to be under contract to be on the show. They show you other homes but you already have one. After they select you, they send your house to Chip and Joanna and their design team,” a season three cast member told Fox News.
While the show itself pretends that this is a house search, the season five application says up front that cast members should be people “in need of expert design and construction help for your new fixer upper home.” It even asks for photos.
While HGTV explained away House Hunters’ fakeness with a lengthy statement, HGTV basically dismissed this, telling Fox News in a statement:
“‘Fixer Upper’ fans enjoy the series because it focuses on the playful banter between Chip and Jo, their home renovation expertise, innovative design tips and families who get the help they need to transform a fixer upper into the home of their dreams.”
Fixer Upper’s unnecessary fiction
Why does the show even bother with the whole house hunting part? It’s not like Chip and Joanna are real estate agents; they’re a contractor and designer. The HGTV statement completely ignores the house selection part of the show, which tacitly acknowledges how meaningless that part is.
Still: Why fake a search when the house is already purchased? Why ask real people to pretend, and make an otherwise interesting and real show feel less authentic?
Search for houses and pretending to pick one does fills up about half the episode, though, so perhaps there is not enough drama to be had with the makeover itself.
But since the production company and network ask the homeowners to put up their own cash—”a minimum $30,000 budget for the renovation” is required to even apply—that creates very real stakes in the actual renovation.
The production does pay for “some extra landscaping or design flourishes” and “one bonus feature in each remodel,” according to the Waco Tribune, but not the tens or even hundreds of thousands the makeover can cost. And that price tag doesn’t even include the furniture, which is staged just for the reveal and then removed.
Each episode of Fixer Upper, then, begins and ends with something being staged for the cameras.