HGTV Addicts In Quarantine

Dated: April 28 2020

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We’re a Nation of HGTV Addicts. But Is Quarantine Changing the Way We Think About Home?

Naturhus, as featured in the 'Home' episode  SwedenNaturhus, as featured in the 'Home' episode "Sweden" Apple TV+ By Judy Berman April 28, 2020 10:26 AM EDT

To stay sane in isolation, it helps to have an active fantasy life. The subject of my recent daydreams, for instance, is bright, solidly built and environmentally conscious—a creation of homegrown Swedish beauty inside and out. Reader, it’s a house. Conceived, constructed and owned by engineer Anders Solvarm, Naturhus is a home fully enclosed by a greenhouse that not only surrounds Solvarm and his family with plant life, but also maintains a Mediterranean climate in the icy heart of Scandinavia. To quote a fellow New Yorker, 30 Rock‘s Liz Lemon, as temperatures in our rainy, locked-down city hover stubbornly around 50: I want to go to there.

Naturhus entered my imagination via Home, one of a few noteworthy shows that have turned up on Apple TV+ since its November launch. The excellent nine-episode docuseries explores extraordinary dwellings around the globe, from an airy, bespoke bamboo palace in Bali to a remarkably versatile 344-square-foot Hong Kong apartment called the “Domestic Transformer.” I went in skeptical; didn’t HGTV, Bravo and Netflix already have fancy-house content more than covered? Yet Home offers more than real-estate porn, profiling the people who are driven to build singular environments for themselves and their loved ones. In doing so, it frames our private spaces as expressions of our identity, values and social status at a time when we’re more likely than ever to be rethinking our relationships to our own homes and the ones on TV that we covet. (Disclosure: TIME Studios employees worked on Home as producers.)

Americans can’t seem to get enough of shows about houses—buying them, selling them, designing them, building them, renovating them, redecorating them, flipping them, cleaning them, even just touring the ones that are particularly breathtaking to behold. In 2019, HGTV was the fourth-most-watched cable channel, and Marie Kondo‘s Tidying Up reigned supreme among Netflix reality series. The initial slate for mobile streaming service Quibi, which launched in early April, included two titles about flipping houses: the action-comedy Flipped and reality mashup Murder House FlipChip and Joanna Gaines, the couple who parlayed their HGTV juggernaut Fixer Upper into a multimedia empire, are poised to launch their standalone Magnolia Network (amid coronavirus-related production delays). Meanwhile, PBS stalwart This Old House is still going strong in its 41st season.

These programs are flourishing, in large part, because real estate, interior design and home improvement—like food and superheroes—belong to an increasingly short list of pop-cultural obsessions with appeal across the political spectrum. Sure, some of the shows seem to have been conceived with a mostly red- or blue-state viewership in mind; I can’t imagine much overlap between the audiences for DIY Network’s Barnwood Builders, in which a raucous crew of West Virginia craftsmen restore historic structures, and Bravo’s big-city-realtor franchise Million Dollar Listing. But there’s a reason why HGTV’s marquee stars, Property Brothers Drew and Jonathan Scott, have admirers in liberal Hollywood (Brad Pitt was the first guest on their new show Celebrity IOU) as well as Air Force One. The desire to surround ourselves with beauty, however we define it, is universal.

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Michelle Cantrell

Michelle is a native of Southwest Missouri and has twenty-eight years of experience in selling real estate in the greater Springfield area! Michelle specializes in all price points, including new cons....

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