Tuesday, June 12, 2012


But What About House Hunters International?

"When I watch other episodes of the show now I can usually pick out the house they were getting based on hair-dos alone. There are certain filming days where they shoot your old house and your new one and then months later when they do the other choices and you all moved in to your new one…."
Bobi was on House Hunters and says it's a sham: you don't get to be on the show until you've already closed on your new house, and in her case, the other two houses she toured belonged to friends and weren't even for sale. Booooo. [via]

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At least we'll always have professional wrestling.


Aw c'mon, professional wrestling is basically ballet. There's a difference between fiction and lies.


@deepomega Professional wrestling is like a soap opera with more violence.


just stop and enjoy it@m

Lily Rowan

I have heard this before! Although not about the not-even-for-sale extra places. Anyway, it has nearly ruined those shows for me. Someone else's furniture in the house? Not the one! Weirdly super-specific minuses? Probably the one! (Because they realize after they live there that the afternoon sun is really hot in the dining room or whatever)


@Lily Rowan I wonder how often the paint color or other minor criticisms are a sort of buyer's remorse? Like, what if you're doing House Hunters and one of the ringer houses is way nicer than the house you actually bought? "This house would have been perfect. I guess I need to criticize something!" Beat. "Ew, purple bedroom!"


@WhiskeySour That Mitchell & Webb Look have a fantastic skit about that. I am not wise in the ways of the internet; have a shitty-looking link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nWoWHzq21tA


@Lily Rowan I heard about it before, too. It actually made me feel better because I stopped thinking people were idiots when they said something like, "I hate the paint color!"


@KatPruska Ahh! I totally forgotten about that sketch!


@WhiskeySour "I'm sorry. I'm so, so sorry."


@KatPruska @WhiskeySour I'll add to the Mitchell & Webb party with a very HH clip here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9CrLTwpJlBA


Noooo. I still believe.


@Petrichoria They can have my House Hunters when they pry it from my cold dead hands. I refuse to accept any of it is less than 100% real.


I've talked about this before here; my aunt and her husband were on House Hunters. Yes, they already had closed on the house. Yes the other houses were ringers. Yes, they had to do a ton of takes. But the other houses not really being for sale? That's a new one to me. I wonder if this couple was an unusual case - maybe there weren't a lot of other similarly priced properties for sale? I think Texas real estate has been very different than most of the rest of the country the last few years. It just seems like using friends' houses would be a lot more effort than just finding a couple more available houses.


@WhiskeySour Yeah, a family friend showed the apartment they'd already lived in for two years in Dubai - but the other two were definitely for lease. They were actually solicited to be on the show for some reason - they didn't even apply!
They suspiciously never show the daughter's room (because tons of their stuff was piled in there)and you can see the same clothes clearly sitting in the frosted glass of the drawers in the before/after shots. Apparently the show paid to move some of their big furniture out and then they said things like "we negotiated in the couch" so that they didn't have to move their gigantic couch out of a high rise for the shoot.


Are any of these reality shows real? I've heard the same thing about Survivor and Survivor Man. Man Tracker, though, is apparently 100% real.

sarah girl

@MilesofMountains Survivorman is about as real as a reality show can get; the host is the only one operating the cameras, he doesn't have a crew out there, no producers staging "extreme" moments (although I imagine they do some light scouting ahead of time). He does, however, have a satellite phone that he can use at any time to get his ass helicoptered out of there. This isn't really a secret, though, he's done it on several episodes when the conditions were just too rough.

Man vs. Wild, however: VERY staged.


@Sarah H. I worked with a helicopter pilot who was involved in the filming of one of of his shows. Survivor Man was apparently camped out about 50 m from his personal cabin the whole time, where the rest of the crew was staying. Maybe that's just because they were in an area where Survivor Man owned property and it's not like that otherwise, but it doesn't exactly fill me with confidence.

sarah girl

@MilesofMountains Interesting, I hadn't heard that! My tentative guess is that that was an abnormal case, since he gets dropped all over the world and I'm guessing he doesn't own property in all those places.

Also, are you sure this is Survivorman and not Man vs. Wild? There isn't technically a crew on Survivorman (since he runs the cameras himself), and I've heard very similar stories about Man vs. Wild.


@Sarah H. Pretty sure it was Survivorman, as it was in Ontario (where the Survivor Man guy is from) and my lazy Googling hasn't found any Man vs. Wild episodes there. My Googling also revealed that that was his first episode, so maybe he was just playing safe, although he definitely seems to keep close to a support crew


@MilesofMountains Can we talk about how awful Dual Survival is? I have no behind-the-scenes knowledge, but it is appalling to watch because of how stupid fake it is.

Although my boyfriend knows a guy who went to some survival camp the "hippy" guy runs (I might have the details totally wrong but basically he went to some class and met this guy) and apparently he actually does walk around barefoot all the time. So that part's real.

sarah girl

HGTV is not going to be too pleased about them breaking the non-disclosure agreement I'm almost positive they signed before doing the show...

At least still we have Cash Cab. That's only sort of faked!


@Sarah H. She says her husband is an attorney, so I'm assuming that they either a) figured out a way that they couldn't be punished for breaking a non-disclosure agreement or b) better start looking for another house, as they won't be able to afford that one if he's that bad of an attorney!

Lily Rowan

@Sarah H. You know people are secretly recruited to be on Cash Cab, right? (In the story I heard, they knew they had been cast to be on a TV show, but didn't know it was Cash Cab until they got in the cab....)


@Sarah H. This is what I was thinking.

sarah girl

@Lily Rowan Yeah, that's what I mean by "sort of" faked - I think the standard story is that the producers scout out interesting-looking people at bars and such, tell them that they're going to be on some random game show and say a cab will pick them up to take them to the set. Then, Cash Cab!!

I think in the beginning they did actually pick up some people without pre-vetting, but not so much anymore. A lot of people would turn down the game offer!

Lily Rowan

@Sarah H. Great, great -- as long as I wasn't bursting your bubble.


@Sarah H. The people I know that were on it blogged all about it and the crew members were leaving very nice comments on their posts. I don't think they signed an NDA. If they did, they did a very bad job of complying, and the crew knew about it, and they did not get sued!


@Sarah H. Nahh - another post on that site links to an article that HGTV put out (http://voices.yahoo.com/the-top-five-hgtv-shows-2138300.html?cat=6) that outlines the fake process. I think it's a pretty open secret.


Question: "Boe-bee" or "Bobby"?


My ex thinks HHI and Storage Wars are documentaries.


@zidaane I will always love Storage Wars. I don't care how fake it is.


@meetapossum It's no Antiques Road Show.

Is It a Hat?

...but the joy I get out of judging other people's horrendous home decor is all too real.


Don't forget to check out the link at the bottom to find out what, exactly, happened to Suzanne Whang!


My sibling works in reality television (DON'T YOU JUDGE THEM!) and yeah, reality television isn't.

sarah girl

@KatPruska I do too, and agreed.


@KatPruska Yeah, but the level of fakeness is astounding. I had a friend who was on What Not to Wear, and beginning to end, not a single moment of it is real in any way. The "secret" nomination (she nominated herself), the shopping ("go to that rack over there and pretend to pick something out while our show assistants do all the actual shopping for you!"), just everything. I was at the "reveal" party, and it was hilarious how many times we had to fake surprise as she arrived again and again until they had enough takes.


@SuperGogo And undoubtedly most of the spontaneous and random things she said on camera were actually answers to specific (and often totally unrelated) questions from an off-camera producer. Editing is magical!


@SuperGogo I don't know why this one is the most disappointing to me. I just love Stacy and Clinton and really want to believe they are superheroes.


I learned this a few months back and was majorly bummed out. For a while it really lessened my enjoyment of House Hunters International, but after a while I just learned to appreciate it in a different way. Plus, one time the people ended up buying a house that had furniture and belongings in it when they looked at it, so you never know when the formula might not be followed! (You know, it may be only once out of every 100 episodes, but there's always that chance...)


@yamtoes Even knowing all the background info, I still enjoy the show. Maybe because I am a bit of a snoop and I want to look inside all the houses? And I derive joy from the really weird things people do to houses? This also translates to real life house hunting.

Example: Basement closet converted to toilet room. No sink in room or otherwise in entire basement. Toilet raised about a foot above floor on orange shag-carpeted dais. Carpeted right to base of toilet. I dubbed it "The Shrine to the Porcelain God" and now it is the standard to which all other weird modifications are compared.


@WhiskeySour I'm able to still enjoy House Hunters International because it's interesting to learn about other parts of the world and see how people live there, even if there's not much suspense to which property will be selected. But when it's just three houses in suburban Atlanta...YAWN. Though a toilet shrine would certainly spice things up!


@yamtoes Yeah, I love to learn about how people might live in other parts of the world, but find most USA places boring (sorry!). House Hunters International is what finally made me realize OK I don't actually want to live in Paris--holy jeez is that place expensive. I can't believe the tiny places people end up getting for what is at least double what I could ever hope to afford!


@simalie The thing that often bugs me about House Hunters International is how frequently the buyers want basically an American house or apartment plopped in whatever locale they're interested in. It kind of depresses me how often they end up buying in some sort of "planned community" for expats and vacationers. It's nice to have "all the comforts of home" but it's really fascinating how insulated people want to be.


@WhiskeySour OMG, I rented a house with a closet like that, but RIGHT AT THE TOP OF THE STAIRS! It was an excellent, King of the World feeling using it with the door open, gazing down at the world below.


@WhiskeySour I know! How many people go to Europe (or anywhere else, really, just I have lived in Europe so I really notice), then complain that the place is small/there is only one bathroom/the washing machine is located in either the bathroom or the kitchen? I always feel like, hello? Most Europeans don't have laundry rooms!


@simalie @WhiskeySour Having lived abroad, it can be kind of shocking on that first apartment hunt though. It's like really? This is what my money gets? How do I make this work? Especially when everything else is so foreign outside of your home. Then you get used to it and figure it out and it's fine. It's just culture shock. It's the same for people when they move to NYC for the first time or when you look at your first apartment. And the people on the show probably told to play it up for the cameras.

Faintly Macabre

@WhiskeySour Then you will love LovelyListing. It's a great way to waste five hours--counting the plastic chairs and kind of wallpapers, looking for entirely-mirrored windowless bathrooms...

Faintly Macabre

@Faintly Macabre Oh, boo, I just realized that the owner must have sold the site and now any rando can submit. The archives (until late 2010 or so) are really funny, though!


Let me ruin the rest of your day, fans of HGTV: Sandra from Property Virgins LEFT THE SHOW. And her new show hasn't been picked up in the States yet.

I had serious plans to move to Canada just so she could help me buy a house.


@lindsey@twitter :(


@lindsey@twitter Yeah, I've seen one episode with the new lady, and she seems ok, but I miss Sandra.


@lindsey@twitter It's not Property Virgins without Sandra and her sassy Canadian accent!


I am currently shopping for a house, and so far, my real life experience seems to be the same as what I've seen on House Hunters- realtors showing me houses that have nothing to do with what I asked for in a house, and are way above the price range I've told them I can afford. Telling hubby that "this is how it happens on House Hunters, it's not just us" gave him some comfort about the process. Now, even that has been ripped away and I see the whole ordeal for the hell that it truly is. Boo hoo.


@ixchel But house hunting is so wacky! So many stories - the homeowner requesting removal of shoes and socks before viewing the house; the people who won't leave during the scheduled viewing and follow behind you, maybe to make sure you don't steal something; the basement coated with black mold that gives you a sore throat for days; the houses that are visibly and unevenly sinking; the hoarders; the aforementioned toilet shrine.

Yeah, you're right, it is kind of hell. And we didn't even buy, in the end.


@WhiskeySour We've mostly been shown empty houses so far, so no current-owner weirdness, just much wondering why a bank would rather let a perfectly fine house rot, rather than being just a little flexible on terms. That, and suddenly realizing that "the value is in the land" = "house is a pit, built in a flood zone, where you will never be given a permit to rebuild or remodel".


I wonder if the ringer houses are required to have granite countertops and stainless steel appliances?? I want to stab out my eyes every time I hear someone whining about the lack of them!


@DandelionTacy Yeah, seriously. When they walk into a perfectly nice kitchen and announce "Well, of course we'd have to redo EVERYTHING in here"...

The Lady of Shalott

@yamtoes Every time I see this show I feel so wildly out of touch. They're like "We'd have to gut the kitchen and start again" and I'm like....but why! It looks nice and everything probably works! Why can't you live with it until you save up, like how my parents and everyone else in their age bracket did it? I don't think anyone ever died from lack of granite countertops.

Also, I hate stainless steel. It shows every little fingerprint and smudge and looks like a factory. No thank you.


@DandelionTacy It's so weird. I have those when I bought my condo, and I feel like they're gonna look so dated in a few years, like those pictures of houses from the 80s with mirrored doors and pinkish carpets. At least granite counters don't look terrible.

Also: no magnets on brushed chrome fridges. I have all these magnets and nowhere to put them!

Hello Dolly

@DandelionTacy Or when they say "each kid needs their own bathroom." WHAT? My family of five shared a bathroom, parents & kids included. I can see where the parents might have a separate bathroom from the kids nowadays, but beyond that seems excessive.




According to a friend of mine: "I filmed half an episode of house hunters international (we had to leave China before we could finish filming) and that's not quite true. They wanted to come and actually film our real house hunt but they couldn't get their visas in time. So, they filmed us back home and then they were going to have us reinact the apartment hunt a month later when they could get in. And we were going to be getting way more (though still not a ton) money than that site said, and we had no apartment in contract or anything when we applied. In fact they are the ones who hooked us up with a real estate agent over there. Maybe it's different for the international because almost no one buys, but yeah. I feel loyalty to the show haha."

(yes I posted about house hunters being fake on facebook because I was SO DISTRESSED ABOUT IT.)



Wait: they give you money to appear on the show?

lavender gooms

As long as Mike Holmes is still genuine, I think I'll be okay. And Damon. Mmm, Damon.

I can only ever get into House Hunters International. But at least this makes me feel better that people aren't really passing up gorgeous villas in Nice and Marrakech because they don't have his and her sinks.


@lavender gooms Mike Holmes: Canada's Most Trusted Canadian


@lavender gooms I would be really happy if Holmes on Homes was fake, and people didn't buy brand new houses with horrible construction/hire contractors who cut ridiculous corners. But I would feel betrayed about Mike Holmes lying to me.

sudden but inevitable betrayal

@lavender gooms Even if the situations are fake (and they're not! they just can't be! THAT WOULD NEVER HAPPEN!), you could never fake Mike Holmes's righteously indignant/teddy bear grandpa persona.

(I wish Mike Holmes was my grandpa.)

(I love you, Mike Holmes.)

sarah girl

@lavender gooms Thanks to Mike Holmes, every time I go to someone's house/apartment I always scope out the bathroom to make sure it has an exhaust fan and that it vents OUTSIDE. I also get suuuuper paranoid about mold.

sudden but inevitable betrayal

@Sarah H. My bathroom does not have an exhaust fan. :( "This is not up to code!"

Do you all watch Holmes Inspection too? Love that one. "This wasn't in the report!"

Evidence-based decision-making

@sudden but inevitable betrayal I love Mike Holmes. He was the MC at an awards dinner I organized for apprenticeship employers, and he was funny, and very short in person. And charming and sweet, and really SWEATED over pronouncing the winners' names correctly. And he always has women on his crews, which is shockingly rare in the Ontario construction industry. As rare as building to code is. :)

sudden but inevitable betrayal

@Evidence-based decision-making Mike Holmes is a national treasure!


@lavender gooms I swoon over Mike Holmes and Damon. So cute and trustworthy and Canadian. I also diagnosed a lack of proper venting in my mother's bathroom sink, leading to "off gases" and a serious funk. That is not up to code!


I saw this on the avclub last night and everyone was saying stuff like, "what even IS this show? I've never heard of it!" And I was like, "then what do you doooooo?! What do you watch while you work out?!?!?!?"

lavender gooms

@TheRisottoRacket I like reading AVclub recaps but sometimes the comments make me feel so out of touch. Apparently everything that I enjoy is for losers. I'm officially An Old.

sceps yarx

@TheRisottoRacket Silly boys. They're too busy watching Fringe or whatever.

sceps yarx

@lavender gooms Mr. yarx reads the AV Club, and sometimes I just have to tell him to STFU. In a loving way!


@lavender gooms Yeah, I really enjoy avclub reviews and I get my movie/tv news from them, but UGH the commenters. The week before last Todd VanDerWerff finally had to step into the comments on a Girls review and tell every to shut it about the women's looks because people were commenting every week about how ugly Lena Dunham is (she's not, give me a break).


@TheRisottoRacket I love the AVClub but the commentariat is a little much. Every interview with a woman devolves into "She's hot/not" in the comments.


@twinkiecowboy Do you feel like it was always that way, though? Because to me, it feels like it has gotten SO MUCH more that way within the past, maybe, year. Even some of the 'theme commenters' seem to have gotten even worse/fallen more into line with the lowest common denominator


There's a great sketch by Mitchell and Webb about how reality-style programmes are staged and filmed out of order here.

George Templeton Strong

Watch old episodes of Property Virgins (say from circa 2007) and try not to wince or scream at the TV when a 20-something celebrates buying a new-construction condo with 3% down in Miami or Las Vegas.

HHI is the best when they stay out of Central America (where everything is a gated community filled with ex-pats and "up to date" appliances" and buyers who demand open kitchens because they "love to entertain" - who are you going to be entertaining? You're in Panama or Nicaragua or Belize or wherever and everyone you know is back in Wisconsin or wherever.) I love it when they go to Europe. Did anyone see the "British family buys a small, strange chalet in Slovenia" episode? Or the one in France, I think it was Rennes or Nantes, where one of the options was this dilapidated vineyard with a house that was uninhabitable and a huge sort of crumbling junk- and debris-filled work building where they fantasized they could house a restaurant? One of the first episodes I ever watched featured a French couple, the girlfriend could barely speak English, looking for an apartment in the 1st in Paris. Proximity to the Comedie Francaise or something equally unbelievable was a must. They were filmed waking up and the boyfriend says in heavily accented English "time to get up" and the girlfriend replied "oh no, let me sleep..." In English. In front of a camera crew. Also, the Euro bathrooms and kitchen appliances are always fun. I've played a little game. Watch the prospective buyers enter a kitchen. Quick, quick, spot that very IKEA-ish looking enameled door under a counter just within camera range. Ask your guests to guess what it is. Storage? Composting area? Dishwasher? Washing machine? Winner (at my apartment) gets a special glass of liqueur from wherever the episode is filmed and then we take turns trying to guess how to say "you couldn't pay me to live in this dump" in whatever language is spoken in the host country. Bonus glass of liqueur if you know how to say it in a regional language, like Catalan if the apartment is in Barcelona.


@George Templeton Strong I love the Slovenia episode! They're like "We're buying a second home in Slovenia because.... well... the real question is, why aren't YOU buying a second home in Slovenia?!?!"

One of the most disappointing episodes I ever saw had a British family buying a dilapidated old French home (not sure if it was the same one!) that they planned to turn into a B&B and then the "After" part of it literally had them like standing on the rubble at the same time as the showing. The older episodes seem to actually have the crew coming back 3-6 months later, and you sometimes even got to see real renovations! Wonder if it was more "real" back then and they altered the model to save costs on filming?

George Templeton Strong

@HeyThatsMyBike Maybe we're thinking of the same episode (the French one.) The guy was a chef in Paris who was British. I literally screamed at the TV "why are Parisians importing chefs from Britain?!?!?!" So they want to get out of Paris, too expensive, there was child or two involved, and yes, I think his dream was that they would have a B&B with a restaurant on-site. One of the other properties they looked at was prone to flooding and I think that's the one they chose?

Did you see the one where the couple was in Utrecht and the weather was just absolutely miserable the whole time? So they settle in and they're filmed with the kids in some square where there is folk dancing and maybe a mime and they couldn't be happier? I'm off to Slovenia - that lake looked fabulous.


@George Templeton Strong The best French HHI was with the huge family looking for a home in Normandy and they toured a medieval house that used to be part of a monastery or something. It looked like Harry Potter and was amazing.


@George Templeton Strong I don't think I've seen the Utrecht one! We may or may not be talking about the same French episode - I think in the one I'm thinking about they were moving from Britain, though I think I've also seen the one you're talking about! I love the European ones where plucky English-speakers leave their flawless flats somewhere and are like "oh yeah, this gigantic project of renovating a 700 year old pile of dust? I think we can handle that. I have a background in contracting." Always hilarious.

And yes, Slovenia looked SO badass.


@George Templeton Strong
Okay now I'm kind of curious what the enamel IKEA-looking enameled door is. I have only stayed in one apartment in Strasbourg and don't watch HHI often enough to know :( (No cable at my house! So I watch it when I'm visiting my parents ♥ quality parent-daughter bonding time ♥)

Claire Carusillo

people keep saying "prometheus" ruined their childhoods, but this just ruined mine.


They don't do it regularly, but sometimes Michael Ian Black and John Hodgeman livetumblr & livetweet HHI and it's about the funniest shit out there: http://www.dailydot.com/entertainment/john-hodgman-and-michael-ian-black-house-hunters/


This is totally true. My friends were on the show, and they said it was a setup.


I know a guy who was on HHI. Fakety Fake Fake.

baked bean

Now I know I shouldn't have judged the buyers so harshly for whining about living in a "cramped" house.


I have a client who recently filmed a DIY network show, and had a similar experience. (Not negative, just that the real situation is far different from what they present on the show.) None of this surprises me (mainly because one of my best friends is a reality TV producer, and also because obviously, right?), but as an avid HGTV and DIY network watcher, it makes me sad for some reason. And for so long I SO wanted to submit to be on one of those shows (once I actually OWN a house) but now I don't really want to deal with the inevitable hassle of it.


I watch HHI specifically to yell at people who are looking for a retirement home. Football season is hilarious at our house because both of us are yelling at our TV's and then stomping into the other's space to complain about people's stupidity. Good times.


HHI was a trending show in every town, you will hear shouting everywhere because of the game,but some places HHI doesn't even exist. - Lindsay Rosenwald

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