The Unofficial Guy’s Guide To Watching HGTV

This was co-written by Brian Gill.

The biggest obstacle to overcome when beginning to live with someone of the female persuasion is figuring out what to watch on TV. Television watching can be a great bonding tool for a young couple. Nothing brings young love together better than finding common ground to make fun of on TV. Here’s the problem: As a male, you want to watch the 5th repeat of SportsCenter for the day and, as a female, she wants to watch a 29 hour marathon of the Real Housemaids of Lake Havasu. Luckily, we’ve found the perfect option for both of you: HGTV. We know this may seem rather feminine to you, gardening and decorating may not be your forte. However, these shows have tons of practical knowledge for you burly men out there.

Let’s say you want to learn how to lay tile or hardwoods. You can learn! Let’s say you have no plans on ever performing any of these tasks. You can learn how much they should cost! The most important aspect of these shows is they give plenty of opportunity to make fun of our fellow man. Isn’t that what life is really all about? Whether it’s the insane civilian looking for a house with a waterslide in Ecuador, or the professional hosts with borderline personality disorders, HGTV provides ample opportunity to marvel at the ingenuity and futility of the human race. HGTV runs on a simple premise: find 5 shows that work and cost next to nothing to produce and play those shows 15 times a day. Here is your guide to those 5 shows.


The real estate process can be absolutely maddening for those involved. Here’s the good news: YOU’RE NOT INVOLVED! House Hunters takes you on an exploration, nay, a journey with various couples as they search for a new home. Are you interested in what things cost in other cities? Take this time to feel better/worse about the city you have chosen to live and work in.

For a couple in Los Angeles a $400,000 budget allows them to purchase a small doghouse in the woods behind David Geffen’s house. For a couple house hunting in the suburbs of Oklahoma City, $250,000 buys a home with Kevin Durant as a next-door neighbor. Have you seen the movie Thunderstruck? You will if you live next to KD! Allow people’s odd personality quirks to wash over you as they try to find their dream home. For example, this guy whose “deal breaker” was that he needed to have ample parking for his school bus. Is he a professional school bus driver? No, it is just a hobby, because that’s a perfectly normal thing to be super into. As a bonus, be on the lookout for the rare House Hunters: House Boat Edition episode and watch as people who are literally looking to live in a tug-boat complain about said boat’s lack of a formal dining room.


This is essentially the same concept as domestic House Hunters except, obviously, the hunters themselves are looking internationally. The other difference: while House Hunters explores the eccentricities of hundreds of different types of people, House Hunters: International keeps it at about 3 archetypes:

  • Those annoying friends of yours that move to Barcelona without things like a job or money or any type of plan in general.
  • A divorcee who is now looking for a beach home in the Caribbean.
  • An American Soccer player (and his poor wife) who can’t give up the dream post-college and is now playing in a D-Level “professional” league in Croatia.

But our favorite House Hunters: International episodes are the ones that feature extremely selfish parents moving their young children to borderline third world countries on a whim like it’s no big deal. “Sure, he’ll be surrounded by an entire population that does not have enough money to buy food, and sure, the kidnapping rate is pretty high, but we have a $12/day security guard who can handle that. Plus, I WANNA LIVE ON THE BEAAAACCHHH!!”

Come for the beautiful views and architecture of the rest of the world, stay for the slow realization of a language barrier and crippling isolation.

Flip or Flop

If you’re not familiar with the concept of “house flipping” here’s how it works: You buy a house that needs a lot of work. You then put somewhere between $50,000-$100,000 worth of work into it. Then you try to sell it for $150,000-$200,000 more than you bought it for. Seems like something that would only work on TV, right? Here’s the good news: It rarely works on TV either! The hosts of Flip or Flop, Tarek and Christina El Moussa buy, renovate, and resell houses in Orange County, CA.

Approximately 50% of all episodes end with them unable to sell the house or selling it for far less than they’d planned and losing money in the process. Tarek is just a dude like you or I who is possibly not good at his job but just happens to have a TV show that puts his failures on display. The aspect of actual failure makes this a fun watch if you enjoy other people’s misery and financial destruction (We do!). And it’s great fun when Tarek and Christina disagree on something and awkwardly throw their contractor into the conversation and force him to pick a side. Also, Christina is almost hot, but it’s in that very 2002 way. I’m pretty sure she uses Newlyweds-era Jessica Simpson as a fashion inspiration—ie. LOTS of Abercrombie jean skirts.


Of all the HGTV powerhouse shows, this is the hardest to watch. Conflict is at the very heart of this show as the producers find couples who are split on whether or not they want to move. A husband may be perfectly happy in a 1000 sq/ft bungalow that’s in the back of an abandoned graveyard, but his wife may want to explore their other real estate options. Stop killing our dreams, wives! Love It or List It provides hosts David and Hillary to help settle this relationship conflict. David is a real estate agent and will try to persuade the husband to move by looking at other houses. Hillary is an interior designer who will try to remake the couples home to persuade the wife to stay. As you can imagine, this often gets heated.

The main problem is Hillary, who, while she’s a very good designer, is never aware of things in homes like: furnaces, potential molding, running water, roofing issues. Do you have a friend who continually makes grandiose life plans and then acts on those plans without actually considering how the world works? That’s Hilary, except she’s using other people’s money to make mistakes! So, while the couple may give her $80,000 to renovate their existing home, she’s rarely ever able to use half of that for actual design. So while she shows them a brand new floor plan she’s designed at the beginning, a leaky roof and a new furnace later and she’s only able to deliver an updated coat closet and a new full-length mirror. Awesome. Meanwhile, you can occasionally catch glimpses of smoke coming out of David’s ears as he tries to politely point out that it is, in fact, impossible to find a 3,000 square foot house with a large yard on a quiet street in the heart of downtown Toronto.

Fixer Upper
Fixer Upper

These are by far the most normal people on HGTV. Fixer Upper is hosted by Chip and Joanna Gaines of Waco, Texas. They find people reasonable homes and redesign and decorate them for a new step in the person’s life. It’s kind of a shock that this show works so well given that most of the homes clock in at under $150,000 and everyone involved is level-headed and normal. Where are the crazy fist fights and scripted yelling matches that reality TV promises us?!

There’s really nothing to complain about this show except for one thing: it’s too perfect. Especially Chip Gaines, who we swear was created in a lab Oprah, This guy is handy, funny, and never leaves the room without telling his wife how much he loves her. He even has cutesy nicknames for her that somehow don’t come off as lame! We have to take this guy out. You could make breakfast in bed on a plate of roses and you’d still be a worthless significant other compared to Chip Gaines. Sorry dude, you have to go. But…uhh…more Joanna, please.


We have saved the best for last, gentlemen. Holy moly do we love the Property Brothers. Adult twins (!!!) Drew and Jonathan Scott, find home buyers on a budget (normally around $400,000 which is apparently pretty low for a house in Canada, I guess healthcare and money grow on beautiful maple trees up there) and promise them the home of their dreams. In the first ten minutes of the show the Brothers take the couple on a tour of a home with literally everything on their wish list. It’s always perfectly staged and is absolutely stunning…until they reveal that this house is triple the homebuyer’s budget. It’s needlessly cruel and awful, and we love it every time.

Apparently no one in Canada has ever seen this show because the couple always reacts as if the carpet has just been pulled out from under them. They do this every time, you guys! The Brothers then inform the couple that they can buy a home through Drew (the realtor of the two) for about half of their budget and have Jonathan (the contractor) fix it up with their remaining budget to custom build the home of their dreams. Plus, more so than any show on HGTV, you really get to know the civilian couple, which leads to some amazing discoveries. Like the “corporate comedian” who is not funny AT ALL or the hot girl who married a nerd for his money and now both of them regret their decisions. It’s a well-produced show and the Brothers are charming in their own weird way, but there is more to the Property Brothers than meets the eye.

  • Jonathan is also a practicing magician in Vegas and regularly Instagrams pics like this:
  • There’s a 3rd brother that no one cares about. Seriously, go away, JD. (Side note: How sad is it that the un-famous brother’s name is just his famous brother’s names put together? There’s no way this hasn’t been cause for massive amounts of therapy.)
  • There’s a CREEPY fan community for these guys. we’ve attached an actual conversation we found on Twitter (yes, we search for Property Brothers super-fans). We’ve blocked out names to protect the innocent/creepy.


Seriously, his voice is more soothing to sleep to? Are you kidding me!? I mean, we usually just listen to Coldplay’s “Fix You” on repeat while we sleep but I guess if this is what works for you…

There you have it, a complete breakdown of HGTV. This is the ultimate compromise network for your new living situation, sit down, enjoy, and get older. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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