Home Reno Shows: Our Guilty Pleasure
They’re not plot heavy, they’re not dramatic or overly funny. They’re just shows about renovation, so what makes it so special? Why has viewership been on a steady rise the past couple of years? Why do we obsessively watch what a few years prior was exclusively for stay-at-home moms? The answer is simple. Home renovation shows fill a certain gap in our hearts, they allow us to feel like we’ve done something, like the stars are renovating our house. When we watch an episode, we see the project start from nothing, and then we see it turn into something beautiful – all in the span of a half hour. We can watch over and over again as people’s dreams come true, and feel that emotion with them. Whether it’s finding a new house, renovating the old one, or finding new ways to use space, we’re always there for the ride.
They make us feel exotic, and special
When we watch House Hunters: International we don’t come back for the gripping drama, we come back for the exotic locations. The family could be moving to Italy, or way up north to Alaska, or to the French countryside, or the Caribbean, and we get to see those locations with them. We get to see the trials and tribulations that they have to endure to live in the house of their dreams. On that same tangent, the newest craze, (tiny houses, floating houses) operate on the same principles. We get to see why they’re moving, who they are as people, what their big dreams are. We get to see the house being built that they may live in for the rest of their lives. We get to see all the quirks of their house, and how it works. We get a taste of what it could be like to live there – even if we never will. Even if it’s just your average reno show, we as the viewer gets to see furnishings and living spaces that we may never get to see or experience ourselves. Shows like Love it or List It, or Leave it to Bryan allow the viewer to see the kitchen of their dreams (even if it’s someone else’s dream kitchen). We can always appreciate the finer things in life, even at a distance. Check out this video of the HGTV dream home to get an idea of what I’m talking about.
They give us ideas for our own homes
When we see someone do something on a reno show, we think, “well, we can do that”. It can be something as simple as new throw pillows for the couches, or something as hard as building a new deck for the backyard. But we try, and sometimes we succeed, and sometimes we fail but that’s part of the fun. We look at it as not only entertainment, but as instructions too.
They connect with us
Every show on HGTV has a subject, that subject usually being a young couple, or a family, trying to move into/renovate the home of their dreams. Normally this would be par for the course, but when you tie in the family’s emotional state into the project then the viewership becomes a lot more invested. What was once a simple renovation becomes a time crunch when someone says “There’s still a lot to do and we only have three days to do it.”, or what was a simple demolition becomes a liberation when you see the homeowners laughing and smiling as they throw the broken walls into the dumpster. The money shot however, the one that you will always see, no matter what is the reaction of the homeowners once it’s all finished.
They will gasp, and say “Oh my God!” or “This is beautiful” or even “I love this”, and there might be some crying too if you’re lucky. It’s a genuinely nice moment at the end of every episode to see someone’s dreams come true and them to be so happy about it. It taps into our empathetic nature, and lets us feel that emotion with the homeowners, as well as gratification for being on board with the journey. It’s a classic emotional power play.
Star power, sweet, sweet star power
The reason that shows like HGTV’s Home to Win is quickly gaining such popularity is because of the colourful cast of stars that are designing the home. HGTV has made these people out to be the best at what they do – reno and design, and the fact that there is the possibility we could win the home that they design and build is phenomenal to think about. Furthermore, HGTV constantly and consistently shows their stars coming across a problem (caused by themselves or by the previous owners or builders) and finding a solution to the problem that is not only time efficient but cost efficient as well. Without sounding too dramatic, HGTV portrays their stars as at the most superhuman, and at the least people who have a very, very good understanding of what they do. Since we, the viewer may or may not know how to do the renovation or decorating that we see on TV, we see the people that do as smarter, cleverer, and generally cooler as a result.
All of this combined is the recipe for a addictive TV network, it’s what keeps us coming back, and it’s going to keep working for a long time.
What do you think? Leave a comment.