I have written columns in the past about my fascination with HGTV. Over the last couple of years, like the rest of the country, I have fallen in love with Chip and Joanna Gaines, host of the HGTV series “Fixer Upper.” The setting for Fixer Upper is Waco, Texas, wherein Chip and Joanna Gaines find old houses for friends or clients that are in less-than-perfect shape, completely rehab them, and present to said friends a beautiful home that may or may not resemble the house they started with.
Chip and Joanna are a perfect example of the power of targeted television programming. Early on, it was obvious that America loved Fixer Upper and so HGTV started to increase the number of times the program was shown. First, it was all day Tuesday, then expanded to other days, and now, you can find the program at all different times of day.
The Gaines' popularity has grown to the level that Discovery Networks, the company that owns HGTV, as well as other popular channels like Food TV, Animal Planet, and The Science Channel, announced about a year ago that Chip and Joanna would be given their own channel, tentatively called The Magnolia Channel (named after their retail empire, also in Waco, Texas) that will feature the couple and their friends. No start date has been announced but rest assured, it won’t be long until we see all Chip all the time, in beautiful, vivid HD color.
Earlier this fall, HGTV hit gold once again by tapping into one of the most beloved TV families of all time, "The Brady Bunch."
In 2018, HGTV paid $3.5 million for the fictional home of the Brady’s. The show ran from 1969 to 1974 and for many of us, now in our mid-50s, represents our youth.
The idea behind "A Very Brady Renovation" was to take the home, which on the inside looked nothing like the Hollywood sound stages used for the series, and make it look like the Brady home. A variety of HGTV hosts were enlisted to help with the project and when the first episode aired on Sept. 9, marked the highest rated single episode program in HGTV’s history. America was given a glimpse of the iconic interior that we had assumed was there all along but was in fact, just recently created.
The original Brady’s have aged a bit over the years. Sadly, the older folks from the show, Robert Reed, who played the father, Mike Brady, Florence Henderson as mom Carol Brady and Ann B. Davis, the lovable and goofy live-in housekeeper, have all passed away. But Greg, Marcia, Peter, Jan, Bobby and Cindy were all there in full glory.
Part of the fun of watching A Very Brady Renovation was seeing the actors who played those characters reuniting for, what must have been a total blast project. There have been other Brady reunions over the years (the classic "A Very Brady Christmas" has become a holiday tradition in our house) but this one was real and raw.
There is a ton of garbage on TV these days, lots of it on the news, but HGTV has managed to tap into a vein with the American people that resonates in deeply profound ways. It’s refreshing and I hope sets an example that the median can be good without all the garbage.
JONATHAN FREEBURG is an Ottawa transplant for the last 25 years. Jonathan is also a regular contributor t0 1430 WCMY Radio. His real job is insurance as a cover-holder for Lloyd’s of London.