Reality TV definitely has plenty of fans, as the entertainment format has taken television by storm over the last few decades. In particular, HGTV has been a big part of the reality TV trend over the years, as they feature many home and garden themed shows that are a perfect match for home improvement enthusiasts and others that enjoy HGTV.
However, there are plenty of critics who say that reality TV isn’t that real after all. How much do the hosts really do? Are the homeowners always satisfied? What if they aren’t? These and other questions are answered only by learning some of the biggest secrets of HGTV history. You may be surprised to find out that the stars of your favorite shows don’t live perfect lives and in fact, have perhaps more skeletons in their closets than most regular people.
Keeping It On The Down Low
Reality TV stars aren’t always in the best position to understand what it’s going to be like to become celebrities overnight. This was the case with Jonathan Scott of Property Brothers, who never told anyone about his divorce from his first wife because he didn’t want any negative facts out there about him. When it came time for the brothers to work on their first book, Jonathan had to open up about his previous experiences, including the divorce.
Class Isn’t In Session
It’s understandable that fans of Flip or Flop would jump at the opportunity to learn from Tarek and Christina El Moussa. However, attendees said that they paid thousands to join the classes, only to be pressured into signing up for even more classes that would also cost thousands of dollars. The El Moussas have not commented on the issue, which probably only made their fans even more agitated.
Keeping quiet on controversial issues seems kind of like the El Moussa’s thing. After all, they did not have anything to say regarding their rumored split after TMZ reported that they were separated. The outlet said that an incident occurred which included guns and a potential suicide attempt, too. Not long after the fiasco, the couple officially separated and eventually divorced.
They Didn’t Care Who He Was
It turns out that in 2016, Jonathan Scott got into a dispute with a bouncer at a Fargo, N.D., bar. At closing time, staff started taking drinks away in order to get the patrons out, and Jonathan wasn’t happy about it. He was escorted out, came back in, and dragged out a second time. Shamefully, Jonathan even tried the “Do you know who I am?” line. It didn’t work. He was supposedly briefly put in a choke hold by the bouncer.
Sued By An Agent
Yet another black mark on Christina and Tarek’s image came when a real estate agent sued the couple for $37,800 in 2017. The former worker claimed that although he was hired to help the El Moussas find homes to flip in North Carolina, he was never paid for his services. He sued for $12,800 in back wages and $25,000 in unpaid commissions.
Another HGTV Star Gets Sued
The El Moussas haven’t been the only HGTV stars to get sued, however. Nicole Curtis of Rehab Addict was also sued, as the city of Minneapolis said that she failed to renovate a house that she bought for $2 within the year that was allotted. The city said she hadn’t paid taxes or insured the house, and Curtis countered that she hadn’t been granted the permits she needed to renovate the property. The parties eventually settled out of court.
A Little Surprise
Just like Jonathan Scott, Nicole Curtis also kept a personal matter secret from the fans. Her reasoning was quite sound, however. She became pregnant with Harper, her second son, and kept the pregnancy private and even hid her stomach on the show in 2015. She later pointed out that she kept the whole thing a secret because she wanted to keep the moment to herself and avoid having her son’s “face plastered all over social media.”
Nicole’s Personal Troubles
One issue that Nicole Curtis definitely wanted to keep out of the tabloids and off social media was that of her custody battle with Harper’s father. They split right after she realized she was pregnant and the court eventually awarded joint custody to Shane Maguire. Curtis wanted to prevent Maguire from having overnight custody until Harper turned two, but the court denied her request.
They Didn’t Love It
Speaking of lawsuits, the producers of Love It or List It were sued by a couple that said the $140,000 renovation performed by Hillary Farr and David Visentin was a disaster. The couple not only claimed that the renovation was only done to look good for TV, but also that they were told to pay $10,000 in fees in order to alter the renovation plans. The production company settled the suit out of court.
The would-be stars of another show, Flip It Forward, had their show canceled before it ever aired when one of them made negative comments about same-sex marriage and also blasted his views about abortion and the Muslim faith. When it was learned that David and Jason Benham had led prayers at anti-gay gatherings and their father is a wacky conspiracy theorist, that was enough for HGTV.
It’s A Setup
In 2012, a woman who appeared on House Hunters took to the internet to reveal some unflattering things about the show. Bobi Jensen said that she was told to ask as if she wanted more square footage when actually she just wanted a new home so she could rent out her other house. Even the house hunting parts were staged, as the houses that Jensen toured were those of family friends!
For Ellen’s Design Challenge, furniture designers had to come up with original works to earn a $100,000 prize. But after Tim McLellan won, it was found that he had plagiarized the work of another person, so the prize actually went to runner-up Katie Stout. McLellan would later appear on Ellen DeGeneres’ show to defend himself, but he wasn’t given back his prize.
That’s Not What The Flag’s For
HGTV made a rather poor recommendation when they suggested that patriotic viewers use a nylon American flag as a tablecloth! They said that the flag would allow spills to be quickly cleaned up, “and the flag can later be hung with pride on a flagpole.” Well, that’s not really gonna jive with the flag code, and HGTV got all sorts of criticism about it. They later apologized on their website.
It seems like a wonderful deal to get a dream home valued at $1 million from HGTV, right? Well, that giveaway has happened each year since 1997, but what HGTV doesn’t want you to know is that all but two winners have immediately sold their homes. Why? Because the taxes on such a gift are so high that the winners couldn’t afford to keep the homes.
Not A Carjacking
Sometimes, a celebrity has to put a foot in their mouth after trying to make a bigger deal of something than it actually was. This was the case when Nicole Curtis said she survived an attempted carjacking in 2015. She deleted her post later as it was revealed that the man never displayed any kind of weapon, exchanged words with Nicole or threatened her in any way.
Nicole Curtis’ life has been a bit of a mess at times. Never was this truer than when Nicole’s own mother took her to court as she sought a personal protection order against Nicole. Joan Curtis said that Nicole would frequently yell at and threaten here, even calling Nicole’s antics “mental fits of rage.” The judge did not award the protection order but still told Nicole to stay away from her parents.
Custody Battle Gets Nasty
Earlier, we mentioned that Nicole Curtis tried to get sole custody of her son, Harper, but failed. Well, that battle got pretty nasty, as Nicole was threatened with a jail sentence for making Harper’s father Shane miss parenting times with the child. In the custody filings, The Detroit News found that the mud being slung between parents included allegations of late-night screaming matches and make-up sex, believe it or not.
Renovators Or Actors?
When North Carolina homeowners Deena Murphy and Tim Sullivan appeared on Love It Or List It, they decided not to do either of those two things. Instead, they sued the producers and contractor for misusing funds and performing work of a poor standard. Also, the couple alleged that Hilary Farr and David Visentin aren’t renovators at all, but just actors who pretend to be involved in the process.
Don’t Be A Clown, Bro
There are all kinds of embarrassing skeletons that you can find in someone’s closet after they unexpectedly find fame. Jonathan and Drew Scott had a particularly damning secret that wasn’t about someone having a secret divorce or anyone having been sued. Instead, it was the fact that they had worked as clowns for birthday parties and other events. Yikes. Working as a clown isn’t really a good look for anyone.
Kitchen Crashers isn’t what you’d call a clean show, but the show was still found to have done an improper teardown on a Chicago property in October 2016. City inspectors threatened a $5,000 fine. It didn’t really help matters that Victoria chronicled the whole saga on Instagram, saying nonchalantly that the “demo didn’t go as planned, but it definitely made for a sick photo shoot.”
Can’t We All Get Along?
HGTV probably frowns upon the stars of its shows making light of other shows that air on the network. That didn’t stop Drew Scott from making fun of the fellow HGTV show Tiny Houses in a 2016 interview. Scott said tiny houses never meet code requirements and that such homes are “not feasible for most families.”
The Gaines Offend Some Fans
Many fans of Fixer Upper‘s Chip and Joanna Gaines were disappointed when they found out that the couple’s church is very much against same-sex marriage. Not only that, but the megachurch is apparently in favor of trying to “convert” gay, lesbian, and bisexual individuals into becoming straight. When the news got out, the couple decided to take the silent approach and didn’t respond to the controversy one way or the other.
Taken Advantage Of?
Chip and Joanna Gaines seemed a little peeved when some of the homes they had renovated started being used as Airbnb and rental homes for vacationers. Although they claimed that it was okay that they did so, they also said they would tighten up the show’s contracts to address the matter. Apparently, Chip and Joanna don’t want homeowners making a little money off of their work on the show.
Misleading His Partners
Some Fixer Upper fans don’t know that Magnolia Realty, the Gaines’ company, actually was founded in 2007. Two other partners, John Lewis and Richard Clark, were part of the company and had no idea that Chip and Joanna were getting close to landing a TV show. In 2013, Chip bought out the other partners for $2,500 without knowing Chip would announce the start of the show just days later. In 2017, Lewis and Clark sued the Chip and Joanna, saying that they wouldn’t have sold for that price if they’d known that the show was about to happen.
At least one owner of a Fixer Upper home was not pleased with the experience. The woman in question said she felt deceived by not only the Gaines family but the city of Waco, Texas after she was provided a renovated home in a bad neighborhood. Eventually, a car crashed through the front wall of her home. Since homeowners are under contract before filming starts, it’s unlikely that she could have protested the area that they chose.
Even More Legal Trouble
Legal issues really seem to follow the stars of HGTV around. Chip Gaines was involved in yet another lawsuit when the new owner of an alley next to Magnolia Silos started to charge Magnolia Market customers $10 to park there (the previous owner let them park for free). When Chip put up a gate to let his customers know they didn’t have to park there, the alley owner sued for $1 million. Chip simply bought the property in order to get the case dropped.
In their book, Chip and Joanna Gaines discussed the fact that Chip had an issue with the police at one point. However, they made it sound as if unpaid tickets got Chip thrown in the clink when it actually had to do with the fact that the couple’s dogs attacked two people and left wounds on their legs. In the book, the couple claimed that the dogs “never bit anyone.”
Not Like On TV
A participant on the show Fixer Upper told a very similar tale of his experience on the show. He said that he had to purchase a new home before appearing on the show, then pretend that he was still shopping as they took him to see homes on camera for the episode. “After they select you, they send your house to Chip and Joanna and their design team,” David Ridley said.
You Can’t Keep That
One of the coolest things about Fixer Upper is that homeowners get awesome new furnishings to complete their homes. Well, don’t get too excited, as the pieces come from Joanna’s Magnolia Market store and are removed and taken back to the store after filming is complete. That’s right: the items are just there for show.
Drowning In Debt
Chip and Joanna Gaines had quite a bit of debt before they started filming Fixer Upper. They opened their Magnolia Market store in 2003, but the store was far from an immediate hit. They were even sued by the local school district for not paying almost $25,000 in property taxes between 2010 and 2012. They eventually paid the debt in 2014 as Fixer Upper was going into its sophomore season.