Few things bring me more pleasure than spending an afternoon watching the various odd couples of HGTV walk into someone’s home, destroy it, and make it better than it was before by essentially just changing the paint and organizing the mess. It’s not the renovations themselves that make the shows, but the personalities behind them. HGTV’s latest show concept, Design at Your Door—about remotely managed home renovations—sucks the marrow out of the home renovation genre.
According to Variety, the new series will involve homeowners who want to change one or two rooms being coached remotely by a designer. The homeowners would have to make all the changes themselves under the video guidance of a designer and record their own progress. This is extreme DIY on a network that’s got several shows highlighting how difficult DIY is for anyone that isn’t a licensed contractor.
The format is naturally perfect for the current era of social distancing, but in the long run, when people are allowed to go outside and remodel their homes with entire teams, will they simply cancel this series? How is an HGTV show supposed to survive without the low stakes drama of a couple trying not to yell at the Property Brothers over a budget increase or the marble countertops being swapped out for quartz? The magic of renovation lies in the tension between contractor and customer.
There’s also the self-produced aspect of the show. Filming the transformation of a space and optimizing it to make a TV audience jealous enough to go out and purchase shiplap, is a task that should be handled by professionals. While HGTV will be providing homeowners with filming equipment, it’s a tall order to ask someone to become their own construction crew and video producer all at once. The breakdowns alone that will probably stem from the experience will be extraordinary.
Perhaps as extraordinary as that hot mess will be the quarantined versions of 90 Day Fiancé and Married at First Sight, two shows that bank on large teams of experts. Without the guidance of a field producer telling couples how and when to argue and what’s worth filming, these shows may just turn into themed versions of Big Brother.