Filming a show that involves devising floor plans, destroying and renovating homes, is a tough job. Few would sign up for such a thing unless they were getting paid millions of dollars or close to it. Former Fixer Upper co-host Chip Gaines says it started off fun, but then working on the show became tiring. Which is normal, but all I’ll ever remember about Fixer Upper is that he ate a roach.
According to People, in an interview with Cowboys & Indians magazine—let’s pause to acknowledge that there is a magazine called Cowboys & Indians still being published, and that Chip Gaines is on the cover of it... Okay, press play now—Chip says:
“TV was a funny thing for me. I’m an authentic, sincere person. So, as long as things are natural and organic, I’m in my element. But the more staged something becomes, or the more required something becomes, it boxes me up,” the father of five reveals. “I felt like toward the end of the Fixer Upper journey, I felt caged, trapped.”
I’m not just the Demo Man! I’m a huMAN! He continued:
“Jo and I couldn’t figure it out. I mean, why? You’re getting to have all this fun, right? But it’s like if I put a camera in your face and said, ‘Hey, say something funny.’ Or if I put a camera in your face and said, ‘Hey, be smart.’ I just struggled with that environment. Especially at the end of it.”
This is honestly relatable. It’s hard to be smart and funny on command—same with, say, blogging. Chip says all the fun they had on the show at first (the initial three years or so) turned into more of an obligation toward the end, which is part of why they quit: “The last two years, not that we don’t look back on them fondly, but they were more of a job. So, something about breaking out of that has been liberating.”
It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. The roach incident occurred in Season 2, which was the best of times. And yes, he really did eat it. At a show in Kansas City in 2015, he told the crowd he was originally going to eat a fake cockroach:
But he was offered $50 to chomp down on an actual dead one, so he did.
“It was nasty,” he said. “You could about taste the pesticide that killed that thing.”
Fifty whole dollars is something you can’t turn down. All these years, Chip was desperate to not have to be goofy all the time and maybe just go home and read a good book! But as they say, once you eat one roach, you have to eat them all, metaphorically. You have to keep putting on a show.