It all seems to have come from a dream: a humble, budget-friendly home is being built and turned into everything the new owners have dreamed of. In between, obstacles, bureaucracies, construction defects are overcome – and the end is always happy.
The renewal programs have become an absolute hit on television. There’s “Querido, Mudei a Casa” here, but in the US the reality show world is an authentic amusement park with formats of all shapes and sizes.
The Scott brothers are probably the most famous name among the Portuguese public. As owners of an empire, they are the most recognizable faces of this television genre and authors of more than a dozen versions. Although the format is designed, the essentials do not change: there is always a house that needs to be renovated and converted into a mansion.
The truth is that we are in the world of reality shows. What we see is not a documentary. It is an entertainment program that is designed to be exciting, even if it is carried out at the expense of the competitors. It may seem paradoxical, but there doesn’t seem to be a lot of reality in these reality shows.
Over the years, viewers and later competitors of the “Property Brothers”, but also the well-known “Love It or List It” and “Fixer Upper” expressed many doubts about the methods used.
If finding the perfect home in three or four visits seems unreal, this may be the case. Completed an almost complete renovation in half a dozen weeks? It’s complicated.
With the Scott brothers, they left little hints behind the scenes of the programs. “Of course I’m not going to install 400 square meters of flooring. We have companies that do everything, ”Jonathan Scott told Popsugar.
It is also known that many of the couples participating in the program have already bought their new homes – and hence the whole process of finding the ideal home coordinated by Drew Scott is a scam to keep the format intact.
“Sometimes there are competitors who have already identified a house that they like. And because everything goes so quickly in the program, we found that it doesn’t work very well there if you do it with people who haven’t even looked for a house, ”justifies Jonathan.
Jonathan and Drew became millionaires
This is not the only obstacle that production poses to potential competitors. In the case of the Scott brothers, access to natural persons is also prohibited. Newlyweds, engaged couples or families are preferred. The exception is only made if it is possible to include friends or family in the program – and if the producers believe they will be able to produce good television moments.
It was also determined that competitors must have an emergency budget of at least € 70,000 to protect themselves from unforeseen circumstances in the plants.
Part of the brothers’ appeal is the seemingly close relationship they develop with competitors, families, and friends. It turns out that the meetings between Jonathan and Drew and the attendees are rare and usually very quick. During the entire renovation process, which usually takes no less than six weeks, we ask that you be available for eight filming sessions – the times when you share the screen with the moderators.
At a Reddit forum, many former contestants came to describe their experiences with these types of programs. There were those who testified that none of the dialogues was real at all, with moderators and candidates reading their clues during the recording.
One day in 2017 the New York Times reported on the filming of the show. The wind from the previous day had torn a metal plate from the roof and fell at the entrance to the house. What was there to do? The next day, recreate the moment and pretend it all just happened.
Workers were strategically placed in the frame, the sound of the fall simulated, and the camera followed the race of Drew, who feigned amazement at seeing the damage for the first time. “We’re going to do this race again,” shouted the director. It took three takes to complete the scene. “At the end of the day, we have an interesting television show to do,” said Drew.
Also, with the job done, you may have noticed that all departments are rarely shown. This is because only part of the house is being remodeled. Participants must select four departments to transform.
That’s the hardest part, isn’t it? After the work comes the fun part of the decoration that makes the new houses glow. Well, maybe not quite. According to several reports – in which not only the Property Brothers, but also the well-known “Fixer Upper” are involved – the decorative pieces are only placed for the program. As soon as the cameras turn off, everything is removed.
In the case of the “Fixer Upper”, the catalog of the parts purchased is delivered to the owners of the house, who can keep everything as it was recorded with an additional payment equal to the amount spent by the manufacturer.
This is a long list of little tricks the productions use to create the illusion that these renovation teams are making the unthinkable possible. In fact, everything is a way to entertain the audience.
The last episode of “Fixer Upper” was released in 2018 – but the show will return
HGTV, the broadcaster that airs all of these programs in the US, has shown that it has a tendency to “adjust and edit blueprints to support production” because it would be impossible to do a full renovation in such a short time. Especially when we find that many episodes are recorded at the same time in a season.
Completing such deep work in such a short time comes at a cost. At best, the surfaces suffer; In the worst case, houses have serious construction problems.
One of the reports describes a renewal of the “changing rooms” program, which was far below expectations: “It was nice (…), but it held up very badly. The murals on the wall peeled off and quickly went bad, ”says one of the testimonials.
In another case, in a more popular program, Extreme Makeover, one of the jobs was completed within a week with the help of volunteers. “They built everything under heavy rain and the house was full of problems. The owner complained about the production and they told him he got everything for free now that he got things fixed. “
One of the reports came directly from a member of the HGTV programming team. In one of the works, the moderators decided on Moroccan tiles and asked them not to use mortar in the joints. “It went as smoothly as you’d expect. Filming ended and we were called to the site a few weeks later to replace the tiles, which were already flaking and becoming dangerous. “
However, one of the reports is very demonstrative that we should not believe anything we see in these programs. The hit “Love It or List It” aroused suspicion in the first episode.
“Love It or List It Vancouver” was one of the first in the series to be broadcast in Portugal
For issues in several countries, the format was always the same: the participants saw three or four houses; You chose one on a tight budget; A construction problem required more costs that forced them not to renovate one or more departments. Tensions between the couple increase; and in the end you decide whether you want to renovate your house or move into the new one.
Proof that everything was prepared in advance is one of the most shocking reports. In one of the episodes of the American version, even after the renovation work, the production asked the competitors to record two versions of the ending: one in which they decided to stay at home; and another in which they decided to sell it.
The couple actually chose to stay in their usual home. That wasn’t broadcast on national television. “They still live in the house they love, but the program showed they had decided to sell it.”