It is personally not my vibe to have a questionably-intentioned reality television couple create an HGTV theme park for middle-class Disney adults and home renovation fans in my town. Still, Chip and Joanna Gaines have successfully transformed Waco, Texas into their personal strip mall through the fortune and fandom they’ve accumulated via Fixer Upper. After ending in 2018, the show that became their namesake is headed back to television, with a reboot on the couple’s Magnolia Network. Fans might rejoice, until they read the find print on the couple’s new casting call.
TMZ reports that Fixer Upper will premier sometime in 2021 on the Magnolia Network, launch date unknown. In a casting call obtained by the outlet, producers spell out the directives for homeowners in the Waco area looking for their own Chip and Jo branded renovation. Surprise! The cost has apparently gone up, with the average cost of homes across Waco rising dramatically. Apparently, it will cost at least $50,000 for the remodel alone—up from a $30,000 minimum on HGTV—with the couple assuming full control of the design decisions. Homeowners are also asked to find their own housing for the duration of the renovation, which lasts anywhere between 30 to 35 weeks. That’s nearly 8 months! As for all that fancy new furniture they stage each home with? You’ll have to buy it for yourself at a “discounted rate.” Meaning, your home ends up looking very different from the big reveal unless you shell out an undisclosed amount.
Homeowners who appeared on the show’s previous iteration have revealed budgets averaging $270,000 for the home renovation, so it seems from the casting that $50,000 is just the bottom floor estimate. Contestants have also reported that “custom pieces” designed by Chip and Joanna have to be bought, and that often, Joanna would stage finished homes with her own furniture, according to Business Insider. Imagine walking into your fancy new house, and having your interior decorator tell you: “Oh, that beautiful couch? That’s not for sale, it’s actually mine!”
Countless local outlets have reported in recent years that the Gaines’ Magnolia Empire has exacerbated racial discrimination and gentrification in the small town and I can’t shake the feeling that things are only bound to get worse for longtime Waco residents. Home prices have increased by nearly 1000 percent, and poor residents are increasingly getting priced out of their hometown. Despite local pushback, the couple have continued expanding their Magnolia Market at the Silos mall, as well as bringing back Fixer Upper, glossing over the legacy of a city formerly known for brutal lynchings (and a cult) with whitewashed shiplap.