What are the seven best and seven worst shows on HGTV? We can all agree that the network has become an American pastime. Amid a turbulent political culture, HGTV has soared to new heights: in 2018, the network ranked fourth in viewership, just behind MSNBC, ESPN, and Fox News, according to Architectural Digest.
Just like eating a pint of ice cream after a breakup, consuming HGTV is like indulging in our favorite comfort TV. We’ve either got our favorite hosts, whose stories and personal lives we follow so closely that we feel like we know them personally, or we love to snoop on the average lives of other couples — and laugh at their exaggerated deal-breakers and squabbles, while also getting our own design ideas and adding to our ever-growing personal wish lists.
HGTV is as perfect for binge-watching on a lazy Sunday afternoon, as it is having on in the background while we do whatever else we’re doing (okay, we’re a little obsessed, we admit). So we’ve rounded up a list of the channel’s shows we can’t seem to get enough of, along with those we can do without.
Best: We love keeping up with the stars of Flip or Flop's personal lives as much as their flips
It’s hard not to love Flip or Flop. You’ve got old, ugly, messy, smelly houses in Southern California that undergo dramatic transformations — and with hosts Tarek El Moussa’s business sense and Christina Anstead’s design skills, the former husband and wife have turned over some big profit.
Anstead and El Moussa first captured our attention as that all-American married couple with the perfect little family. We watched them rebuild their lives after the 2008 housing crisis, overcome multiple health struggles, and expand their family (via Country Living). It’s that relatability that especially resonated with viewers, as Jane Latman, president of HGTV, shared with People. “Legions of fans continue to watch the evolution of their story to see how they handle whatever life throws at them next,” she explained.
When the couple split in 2016, fans were shocked — and their HGTV future remained uncertain. But they continued to work together for the kids and the biz, and Flip or Flop is still going strong. Though their lives may look different today, they’ve still got that same on-air chemistry.
Worst: HGTV's Flip or Flop Vegas is a copycat that can't compare to the original
Once the future of Flip or Flop became unknown following Tarek El Moussa and Christina Anstead’s separation, HGTV decided to produce a spinoff series with couples from other cities, including Las Vegas (via The Hollywood Reporter). According to Allison Page, general manager of U.S. programming and development for Scripps Network (having since been acquired by Discovery Inc.), the success of Flip or Flop “inspired” the network to feature other “successful couples that had mastered the art of flipping in their town.”
While the idea was a good one, the fact that viewers had grown to know the original Flip or Flop couple and their story didn’t fare well for the new series, which has had three seasons and has yet to be renewed for a fourth. Flip or Flop Vegas stars married couple Bristol Marunde, an MMA fighter-turned-general contractor, and Aubrey Marunde, his designer wife. Vulture describes the show as bringing the “HGTV formula… to the quivering edge of reductio ad absurdum. They love one another; they never quarrel; they worship together at the Church of Home Depot in the Parish of Lowe’s.”
Best: Love it or hate it, HGTV's Love It or List It is here to stay
Love It or List It, an HGTV staple since 2008, combines the act of home renovation with shopping around for new real estate, mixed with a dose of friendly competition from bickering co-hosts who have amazing chemistry together. Part of the show’s success can be attributed to their on-screen rapport.
Love It or List It co-star David Visentin shared with the Los Angeles Times just why he and Hilary Farr work so well together. “Hilary and I got along right off the bat. It’s the perfect relationship,” he gushed. “We allow each other to say exactly what the other one feels even if it’s irrational. And then we get over it and move on.”
While Visentin admitted that there are some things in each episode that they have to say, he shared that most of what we see is the real deal. “When we walk into a house, we are seeing it for the first time,” he continued. “We go in, guns ablazing, and say exactly how we feel, and it’s the same with the homeowners.”
Worst: Property Brothers: Forever Home is just one too many Property Brothers shows
Yes, the Property Brothers are good looking, they have charisma, they’re excellent at what they do, and they have amazing on-screen chemistry with their brotherly shenanigans. However, it’s reached the point where they just have too many shows. Drew Scott, the brother who’s the realtor, and Jonathan Scott, the brother who’s the contractor, are probably the kings of HGTV, but with their ever-expanding media empire, we may be getting a little tired of seeing them on our screens.
In 2019, E! News shared that the duo signed a new contract with HGTV through 2022. “Drew and Jonathan… deliver innovative and impactful content across all our platforms — linear and digital,” HGTV president Jane Latman said in a statement. “They are great collaborators, full of fun ideas and our audience and advertisers love them.”
And so HGTV has ordered a whopping 40 more episodes of the brothers’ latest show, Property Brothers: Forever Home, not to mention countless other shows and projects for the duo. To us, Property Brothers: Forever Home is just more of the brothers’ hijinks, without the excitement of helping couples shop for a new home.
Best: HGTV's House Hunters may be predictable but we secretly crave that
Now we get to House Hunters, an HGTV mainstay since 1999. Part of the beauty of the show is that it doesn’t rely on the hosts to carry the show — because there are no hosts. Instead, the house hunters themselves are the stars of the show, along with the unseen, long-running narrator whose soothing voice guides us.
We know what happens in each episode — except, of course, which of the three properties the couple (or friend/roommate, etc.) will choose. However, part of the show’s winning formula, according to The Washington Post, is that predictability that we all seem to crave in this crazy world.
We also love that House Hunters gives us the ability to “play along” with average couples doing something that’s been part of the American dream for quite some time; so said Shawn Shimpach, associate professor of cinema studies at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. “There’s some appeal in seeing how they interact with each other… You play along by deciding, which would I choose? And so, am I like these people, or am I different from these people?”
Worst: This House Hunters spinoff has faced accusations of staging
The popularity of HGTV’s House Hunters has led to a number of spinoffs, most notably House Hunters International, the most popular of them.
But, some of these spinoffs have garnered controversy because of accusations of staging, according to E! News. For example, one realtor who was approached by HGTV to appear on Beachfront Bargainhunt — a House Hunters spinoff that focuses on clients searching for their “bargain” beachfront home — was told that he needed to have a client to appear alongside him on the show. He didn’t have any clients that matched the show’s requirements so, rather than give up the opportunity to appear on the show, he asked the producers if he and his wife could pretend that they were the couple looking for their beachfront home.
The producers agreed, and thus the viewers were led to believe that this was actually a real scenario. Oh, HGTV, we’re kind of mad at you, but, like family, we can’t stay mad for long.
Best: HGTV's My Lottery Dream Home is an entertaining and fun escape
My Lottery Dream Home is another popular HGTV series that is just pure fun, as noted by the Orlando Sentinel. The series, which is hosted by David Bromstad — a former winner of HGTV Design Star — takes recent lottery winners on a search for their new “dream home.”
What makes this show work is that you’ve got the same formula made popular by House Hunters, coupled with an animated and entertaining host who’s fun to watch; he genuinely seems to develop a solid connection with homebuyers. And we also love to check out his unusual choice of outfits.
What’s also interesting is the variety of homes and price ranges that we see on My Lottery Dream Home. There’s a diverse range of individuals and couples from many cities around the country, with different jackpots won, and as a result, different budgets. While not all of the houses toured are the typical elaborate mansions we think of when we think of a “lottery dream home,” what gives the show its heart is that for these contestants, their chosen property is their idea of a perfect home.
Worst: Windy City Rehab is a renovation show plagued by controversy
HGTV’s Windy City Rehab follows host Alison Victoria as she turns historic homes in Chicago into high-end masterpieces. However, while Victoria’s design aesthetic is stunning, her show is not without controversy; Victoria is being sued by her ex-business partner and co-star, Donovan Eckhardt, for “defamation and emotional distress” after making him out to be a “villain” on the show. The $2.2 million lawsuit filing alleges, according to People, that Eckhardt was under pressure from the show’s producers (who were aware of his anxiety issues) to complete projects in extremely tight, unrealistic timelines.
This lawsuit is not the only controversy that Windy City Rehab has faced. ABC7 in Chicago reported that some neighbors of the show’s renovated homes on N. Leavitt Street have complained not only of noise, but also of supposed “finished” properties looking anything but on the outside. “The show posted that it sold for $1.375 million,” resident Joan Cini explained. “There’s nobody in it. There’s a port-o-potty in the back. The garage is not completed. The backyard is all debris. There’s debris out here and the Dumpster is still sitting here. Come in and fix, but finish.”
Best: Fixer Upper, the reigning king of country chic and goofy husbands, is back
Married couple Chip and Joanna Gaines have created nothing short of an empire — which includes restaurants, books, a magazine, a Target brand, and the new Magnolia Network — all from their hit HGTV show Fixer Upper. The show returned to Discovery+ as Fixer Upper: Welcome Home after the series’ initial run on HGTV ended in 2018.
Part of the appeal of Fixer Upper, according to The New York Times, is Chip and Joanna’s opposite personalities — her, the more reserved, logical one, and him, the goofy Texan husband always making viewers laugh — along with the couple’s appealing modern farmhouse style. “They are a couple who respect tradition and one another, and aren’t afraid to show their Christian faith,” one Kansas City-based fan gushed. “She is proud of being a wife and mother, and you don’t always see that on [television].”
Worst: HGTV's Home Town focuses on the clients, not the entertainment value
Home Town isn’t a show about modern design; instead, hosts Ben Napier, the general contractor, and wife Erin Napier, the designer, are focused on giving their Laurel, Mississippi-based couples a house that truly feels like a home. While the sentiment is nice, the show’s lack of “wow” moments is a bit of a snooze. Yet, it’s interesting to note that Home Town isn’t about the “pretty,” as Erin explained to Country Living. “I never think about ‘interior design,'” she shared. “I think about creating a home that tells that family’s story.”
And that “story” may also include incorporating “ugly” items from the couples’ current homes, as each client fills out a survey of questions, one of which asks: Is there an object in your current home that you love that you think may be weird, ugly, or unusual? “I want people to see that if they have something that’s special to them, even if it’s considered ugly, if it’s authentic to who they are and is complemented by contrasting, beautiful things, it becomes elevated and beautiful, too,” Erin added.
Best: This Property Brothers show on HGTV highlights each brother's unique style
The Property Brothers arguably have too many shows on HGTV. However, one of them seems to outshine the rest by showcasing each of the brothers’ unique style and personality, which is missing from their other shows since Drew is busy being the realtor. In HGTV’s Brother vs. Brother, Drew and Jonathan Scott each purchase a similar property and then renovate it room by room in a friendly competition, and we know that these brothers love competition.
Brother vs. Brother gives fans the same dose of the brothers’ goofy hijinks as Property Brothers, as well as highlights the twins’ contrasting preferences. The show also stars Drew and Jonathan’s older brother, J.D. Scott, and lets a well-known “judge” determine the preferred property design (though the actual “winner” is determined by which brother earns the most profit after selling). As Jonathan told People, “We have no control over who wins. The buyers decide.”
Worst: HGTV's Property Brothers is quite unrealistic
We all know that reality TV isn’t actually “reality.” But still, when we watch Property Brothers, we want to believe that the backyard we see on the show is actually the homeowner’s backyard. However, according to one woman whose home was featured on Property Brothers, this wasn’t the case.
Jenny Reimold’s home was shown on a Property Brothers episode as the house that serves as inspiration for the homeowners’ renovation. “Although we like to think our yard was a bit more aesthetically pleasing than the one shown, we imagine the other yard was used because they had a tall, wooden fence that offered more privacy,” Reimold told People.
This isn’t the only thing they don’t tell you about Property Brothers; Drew Scott revealed in a Q&A on Twitter why all the rooms of a renovated house aren’t shown on TV. “The budget and timeline that you see are only for the three to four rooms that we show you,” he said. Scott added, however, that sometimes they do renovate the entire house, but that those timelines and budgets are beyond what viewers see because “there’s no way we’re renovating an entire house on $50,000.”
Best: HGTV's Build Me Up is a home makeover show with heart
HGTV’s new home renovation show Build Me Up stars Orlando Soria, the former host of Unspouse My House, as he renovates the homes of clients who have recently experienced a major life transition — think divorce, the loss of a loved one, or a son or daughter going off to college.
The Los Angeles Times calls Soria’s new show “an uplifting breath of fresh air” that is much needed. On one episode, after seeing her remodeled space for the first time, a single mom from Huntington Beach, California told Soria, “I feel revived. You’ve literally changed my life. I’m so excited for the next 20 years.”
Soria shared what he loves about his new HGTV show. “It’s nice to turn on the TV and see someone doing nice things for someone. Interior design is fun, but people want more out of TV,” he said. “They want an emotional pull. I have always used interior design as a conduit to talk about people’s emotional lives.”
Worst: Extreme Makeover: Home Edition is back, but can we forget those foreclosures?
Remember the old ABC show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, where deserving families would be gifted a totally rebuilt home? Well, it’s back, but this time it’s part of HGTV’s lineup and has a new host: Jesse Tyler Ferguson of ABC’s Modern Family fame. However, while the show was always enjoyable to watch and benefited much-deserving families, it’s hard to forget the controversy that surrounded the original version: many of the show’s homeowners could not afford their new home’s expensive property taxes.
Such was the case of Arlene Nickless of Holt, Michigan; her home was foreclosed on in 2017, nine years after it was rebuilt, courtesy of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (via USA Today). “When I stepped out of the house the day Extreme Makeover came, you will see me say ‘I can’t believe this is happening,'” Nickless said. “And, truthfully, that’s what I feel right now: I can’t believe this is happening.”
Only time will tell when it comes to this revived version. In other words, we hope that when lucky homeowners receive a rebuilt house this time that they get to enjoy it for years to come.
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