HGTV Junior

Photo credit: HGTV Canada

It’s hard to miss the proliferation of competition shows that now feature children. It’s as if the networks are looking at all their reality/competition shows and thinking an easy new programming idea is to remake them with child contestants.

Especially prevalent are cooking shows such as MasterChef Junior and the many offerings on Food Network including Chopped Junior, Kids Baking Championship, and the upcoming, Food Network Star: Kids. For these shows the age range is 8-13 except for Chopped Junior where it’s slightly higher at 9-15.

Do you enjoy the pint-sized versions of these shows? Sure it’s impressive that people so young could master high level cooking techniques, have such sophisticated palates, etc. and the shows feature these qualities. At the same time they also feature the childness of the contestants. The girls in particular appear to be encouraged to wear bright, contrasting colors and wear their hair in pigtails, (think Punky Brewster). The contestants also seem to be prompted to scream. A lot. Annoyingly.

The best example of a child version of a show is Project Runway Junior where the age range is 13-17. It has only been on for one season so far but has been renewed and with good reason. In many ways it was more enjoyable than either Project Runway or Project Runway All Stars have been in years. There are a few reasons. One, the kids are older – they’re teens and have more maturity, more experience, and more ability to execute. Two, the competitors performed at a level you would think is beyond their years (to be fair this happens on the kid cooking shows too). Three, the teen competitors collaborated successfully and kindly supported each other. The producers chose to give this show a positive focus rather than one based on divas and drama.Thank you!

So, with the popularity of kids as contestants, the high level output, and the success of these shows, why hasn’t HGTV jumped into this arena? Here is my theory: kids don’t buy or sell real estate and they don’t flip houses.

I recommend a twofer in which HGTV jumps on this kid bandwagon and brings back some design-focused shows that many of us are sorely missing. Here are some ideas:

  1. Follow the Project Runway Junior model and focus on teens
  2. Feature them on reboots of shows such as That’s Clever, The White Room Challenge, Design on a Dime, Decorating Cents, and/or Ellen’s Design Challenge
  3. Create some new shows for them in which they redo their own rooms or rooms in their homes, compete against their friends to redo rooms or outdoor spaces, etc.
  4. Start with the children of HGTV stars, like the kids from Fixer Upper or Home by Novogratz
  5. Show us what some already famous teens who like to decorate have done
  6. As a last resort, find some kids who buy, sell, or flip homes.

What do you think? Would you watch shows on HGTV that feature children? Would your kids be more likely to watch the network if there were people their age showing what they can do?


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