Staff Picks: HGTV is where the heart is


Via Magnolia Network | TNS

“Fixer Upper” follows couple Chip and Joanna Gaines as they buy and renovate houses in and around Waco, Texas.

By The Pitt News Staff

Sometimes living in a cramped dorm or a South Oakland apartment can make you forget what a real house looks like. Luckily, HGTV is here to offer a refresher in the form of a McMansion in the suburbs that you’ll never be able to afford.

Our staff has handpicked the best HGTV shows, much like the network’s celebrity decorators handpick overpriced rustic decor to place in their living rooms. Whether you’re critical of outdated backsplashes or just want to ogle some reasonably attractive builders and decorators, these shows are perfect for a relaxing weekend.

Celebrity IOU // Charlie Taylor, Culture Editor

Tall and handsome with shiny teeth and top-notch design skills, Drew and Jonathan Scott really do have it all. Best known for their show “Property Brothers,” these twins’ newest endeavor features the pair helping celebrities give back to important people in their lives by renovating their homes. Following a different celebrity every episode, from Brad Pitt to Viola Davis to Melissa McCarthy, the series offers an intimate look into the personal lives of celebrities without feeling invasive. The brothers talk to each celebrity about why the recipient — usually a family member or a friend from before they got famous — is important to them.

It’s a typical, almost cliched “pay it forward” trope, but the stories are heartwarming and easy to watch. HGTV also made the right choice in taking the attention away from the ever-perfect Scott brothers and refocusing it on the celebrities and their guests. The faults of “Property Brothers,” which insists so much on the pair’s humor and relatability that the audience can get annoyed quickly, have faded away. It isn’t about Drew and Jonathan, or even Brad Pitt – it’s about real people who deserve recognition for their friendship, loyalty and kindness.

House Hunters // Sinead McDevitt, Senior Staff Writer

For most college students, especially ones living in a city like Pittsburgh, choosing a place to live is more a case of what they can afford than whether or not they like an open-concept kitchen. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun to watch other people choose between houses the viewer can never hope to afford. Each episode of “House Hunters” introduces two people — usually a couple, but on some occasions it’s a pair of friends, or a person and their parent — who are looking for a place to live. It also gives their budget — an episode featuring a couple in Pittsburgh had $200,000 — and what their essentials are for their dream home. Their realtor takes them to look at three potential houses in whichever city they’re looking. The pair then discusses which houses they like and eventually buys one. With just under 20 seasons, there are hundreds of episodes for you to enjoy, and that’s not including “House Hunters: International” and “House Hunters Renovation,” which have the same basic premise but occur outside the US and follow how the couple renovates their house, respectively.

Fixer Upper // Lucas DiBlasi, Senior Staff Writer

There’s something deeply satisfying about watching power couple Chip and Joanna Gaines find, buy and completely overhaul houses in and around Waco, Texas. People come to them with a budget and an idea for the type of house they want, and Chip and Jo find a house that could become their dream home with enough loving care — that is, tearing down walls and putting in shiplap. Chip has an over-the-top goofball exterior that hides his skill at renovation, and Jo holds down the fort with an eye for the big picture in addition to small but significant details. By the time an episode has ended, they will have turned old ranch houses into beautiful rustic homes and rundown shacks into modern cabins. In fact, the show, and Jo’s design sensibilities, are credited with the surge in popularity of the “Farmhouse-chic” interior design style, as well as increasing tourism around their marketplace in Waco. “Fixer Upper” makes it easy to see why Chip and Jo have found such success, because even if you try to just leave it on in the background, their magnetic personalities and design sensibilities will draw you right in.

“Fixer Upper” ran for five seasons on HGTV, but a new season is in the works for Chip and Jo’s new Magnolia Network.

Love it Or List It // Sona Sharma, For The Pitt News

The appeal of HGTV is its consistency, and hosts Hillary Farr and David Visentin’s “Love it Or List It” is no exception. Every episode stars a bickering couple, with one partner requesting designer Hillary’s help to make their home more functional, while the other partner works with David to search for a new property. At the end of the episode, the couple decides whether to keep their renovated home and “love it,” or cash in on its increased market value and “list it.”

What separates “Love it Or List It” from the rest of HGTV’s roster is how frustrating it is. The couples’ arguments, outrageous requests and changing list of demands keep Hillary and David busy. The final decision is the most stressful part — most of the time, you’ll be groaning in frustration as the couple makes what seems like the worst choice possible. But this emotion, combined with the show’s unvarying formula, adds to its charm and makes it a perfect distraction from that upcoming test you’ve been stressing about all week.