For today’s post, Home Sweet HGTV celebrates June as Pride month and introduces my daughter, Sara, as a guest contributor.
HGTV has long had members of the LGBT community on their shows, but how supportive is the network really and how accurate are their representations?
House Hunters was created by a lesbian couple, Jennifer Davidson and Tara Sandler, who have had gay couples searching for and buying house on the show since its creation in 1998. In an interview with Jim Halterman the women said that they never made a point of featuring lesbian or gay people on the show because to them it seemed normal and the network went with it. This began in a time where it was uncommon for there to be LGBT characters on shows unless they were featured as a heavily stereotypical token character. While HGTV did not make a big deal out of having gay people on their shows, it is important to recognize the impact this may have had on normalizing certain LGBT experiences. If a major network like HGTV accepts and does not exoctizice the community, it can suggest to the viewers that being gay or lesbian or bisexual is not something to be ashamed of and instead is something that is perfectly normal.
Recently HGTV canceled a program before it even aired featuring the Benham brothers after they made some homophobic comments. Given the fairly frequent featuring of LGBT people on shows, it makes sense that the network did this. However, the Benham brothers argued that it had less to do with their beliefs contradicting the network and more to do with them not being in line with much of the American public. They state that there is a “gay agenda” in America and that the network would have lost money if they continued with the Benham brothers’ show. This in an interesting point to look at. Was the show canceled because HGTV did not agree or because the ratings and the money would have decreased?
For a long time the LGBT community was not widely accepted in mainstream culture. And while this is still very much the case in some communities today, as we saw in Orlando, overall there is much more acceptance. With the legalization of gay marriage and the repeal of discriminatory laws such as Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, mainstream support has been increasing. This is turn has incentivized businesses and people to be overtly supportive of the LGBT community, placing the rainbow flag on everything from shirts to credit cards to sporting events. However, theses signs of solidarity partly come from the monetary benefits that can be derived from being an ally. It is estimated that the purchasing power of the LGBT community is $790 billion dollars. That is a lot of money and with money comes a lot of sway. So it is very likely that HGTV took money at least partly into account when canceling the Benham brothers’ show because there was a risk of the network as a whole suffering due to the association with the homophobic brothers.
In addition, while HGTV has been supportive by featuring LGBT people on their shows, the experiences that are shown represent a small subset of the community. Most of the people are in a long term relationship and appear to be middle class living in nice areas. This is not an accurate representation of the LGBT community as whole, but it is important to keep in mind that this representation holds true for straight people as well. Most of the people on HGTV are middle class or higher and are white. This makes sense given that people buying, flipping, or redecorating houses are going to be people of a higher income. Plus, the majority of TV is very whitewashed and disproportionately represents certain people and certain classes more than others. In that way, HGTV is very much in line with mainstream media.
Overall, HGTV is a friend of the LGBT community at least on some levels. While the representation could be improved and it is unclear how much the network is attempting to boost ratings and income by being supportive, as a whole HGTV does much better than many networks. If anything, HGTV highlights the need for more representation and normalization of the LGBT community on TV.
Who remembers pet shows on HGTV? They’re more obscure than gardening shows on the network. I remember from writing a post about the first year of programming that HGTV aired a pet show. That got me interested in how many others there have been.
I dug around and found these three.
Posh Pets: Lifestyles of the Rich and Furry
Multimillion-dollar private jets, luxurious spa treatments and exorbitant shopping sprees: How far would you go for your pet? This show celebrates the outrageous ways some people pamper their furry family members.
Company of Animals
Company of Animals is a fun and informative pet series devoted to helping people pick the perfect pet. Featuring more than 40 popular breeds of cats and dogs, each episode featured useful pet information from owners and breeders, along with health tips from veterinarians, and the most adorable puppy and kitten moments!
A-List Pets at Home
A-List Pets at Home reveals how celebrities have customized their homes to make them luxury pads for the cats, dog, and other precious pets. Each 30-minute episode features three celeb homes.
Would you watch pet shows on HGTV? What aspect are you interested in – HGTV personalities and their pets, rooms or furniture designed for pets, something else?
Sunday 12:00 and 12:30 pm Open Concept
Dallas sisters Whitney and Ashley are transforming family homes into chic masterpieces with smart, functional spaces.
Monday 6:30 am Sarah Sees Potential
Some houses don’t look so appealing at first glance, but home expert Sarah Richardson knows how to find a diamond in the rough.
Wednesday 9:30 – 12:00 noon Rehab Addict
Nicole Curtis is saving historic houses, one broken-down fireplace at a time. Working in Detroit and Minneapolis, Nicole takes ramshackle homes from the wrecking ball to their original stunning glory.
Thursday 6:30 and 7:00 am Old Home Love
Andy and Candis Meredith have a passion for saving and renovating old homes.
New prime time episodes
10:00 House Hunters Renovation
11:00 Living Big Sky
8:00 and 8:30 – Lakefront Bargain Hunt
9:00 and 9:30 – Tiny House, Big Living
10:00 – House Hunters
10:30 – House Hunters International
10:00 House Hunters
9:00 – Brother vs. Brother
10:00 – House Hunters
11:00 – Listed Sisters
9:00 – Flip or Flop
10:00 – House Hunters
10:30 – House Hunters International
11:00 and 11:30 – Vintage Flip
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:
Follow the Project Runway Junior model and focus on teens
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
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.
Start with the children of HGTV stars, like the kids from Fixer Upper or Home by Novogratz
Show us what some already famous teens who like to decorate have done
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?