Nothing Gold Can Stay: HGTV Admits House Hunters Is Partially Staged

House Hunters[Explosion noise!] In a mushrooming scandal currently rocking the world of real-estate-themed reality television, HGTV (that’d be Home and Garden Television) has been forced to admit that its flagship show, House Hunters, in which home buyers are shown three prospective homes to purchase — or, if you’d rather, three prospective futures in which to build their lives — is partially staged. [Airhorn noise!]

The revelation comes thanks to some insider confessionals and Woodward/Bernstein-esque prodding from the blog Hooked on Houses (via The A.V. Club). Allegations had long been swirling that the show only picks people who’ve already purchased their homes, and then shows off that purchased house while just making the families pretend like they’re considering two other houses. (And for this tribulation, what is their reward? A measly $500.) Now a brave Deep Throat has stepped forth to confirm all this treachery. Her name is Bobi Jensen, she was on House Hunters, and she was forced to betray our trust:

“They didn’t even ‘accept’ us being a subject for the show until we closed on the house we were buying. So then when they decided to film our episode we had to scramble to find houses to tour and pretend we were considering. The ones we looked at weren’t even for sale … they were just our two friends’ houses who were nice enough to madly clean for days in preparation for the cameras! When I watch other episodes of the show now I can usually pick out the house they were getting based on hair-dos alone.”

Deep breaths, everyone. Deep breaths.

In light of the evidence, HGTV released the following confession (via EW):

“We’re making a television show, so we manage certain production and time constraints, while honoring the home buying process. To maximize production time, we seek out families who are pretty far along in the process. Often everything moves much more quickly than we can anticipate, so we go back and revisit some of the homes that the family has already seen and we capture their authentic reactions. Because the stakes in real estate are so high, these homeowners always find themselves RIGHT back in the moment, experiencing the same emotions and reactions to these properties.”

OK, not quite a scorched-earth reveal that forever shatters one’s faith in everything. More of a nuanced finessing that admits very little, really, beyond the fact that the show sometimes re-shoots scenes. But read between the lines, and remember Bobi Jensen’s words, and face the ugly truth: House Hunters is lies.

For immediate reaction I went to a trusted source deep inside the House Hunters fan demographic: my mom. (For the record, she doesn’t even mess with regular House Hunters anymore. It’s all House Hunters International everything.) She says: “I thought so; you can see the people wearing the same clothes in the ‘four months later’ show and the babies look exactly the same, but it’s still fun. Ha-ha.” There you have it. Case closed. Now pick up the pieces of your broken lives and move on.

Filed Under: Reality Television

Amos Barshad has written for New York Magazine, Spin, GQ, XXL, and the Arkansas Times. He is a staff writer for Grantland.

Archive @ AmosBarshad