American Comfort TV: HGTV still ranks as top American viewing

We all have a TV show or series that we love, a show that we turn to when we’re feeling lost or sick or tired or heartbroken. Somehow, these shows manage to support us through difficult times in our lives, and we never tire of them. For Kettle’s Alex Veeneman, this feeling manifests itself in a whole network.

It was 11 at night. At a hotel located near a major highway in the US state of Illinois, my family and I were heading to bed, weary and exhausted, preparing to face another day as our house had become a construction zone. The pipes had frozen, burst, and the ceiling caved. It would be 24 weeks before we could emerge from cheap hotel hell and return to the golden paradise that was our home.

As I prepared to rest my head in one of the connecting rooms, with my Siamese cat (who had better manners than any of my neighbours) criss-crossing both rooms, I turned on the TV to watch something calm before I fell asleep. That channel was HGTV, Home and Garden Television, a network devoted to programmes about improving your home, buying a home, and making it your own.

Justified irony

The irony was not lost on me, as I watched designers and contractors tackle the task of making houses truly homes, experimenting with colours and layouts of rooms, even as my own house was in the same category. Yet, there was something about these programmes that make them worth tuning in for—they are simple, they are heart-warming, and they are humorous.

For those who are wondering, it’s not like Changing Rooms, that old BBC programme where people came in and trashed each other’s houses. It’s about ideas, taking the step from taking a house on a street in a neighbourhood, be it in the heart of downtown, suburbia or in the country, whether it’s for yourself or someone else.

Twin brothers Drew and Jonathan Scott excel at this with their series of programmes under the title Property Brothers, as they help people transition out of small spaces and into their dream homes. Ideas are front and centre of their show, showing how different designs can help truly make a house a home.


The philosophy of the dream home also exists with the Los Angeles based real estate duo Tarek and Christina El-Moussa. In their show, Flip or Flop, they make run-down homes into properties worth living in.

“We’re trying to create an experience,” Tarek explains in a promotional video. “When they walk in, it’s theirs and it can be theirs.”



Not just ordinary home shows

There are however, some disagreements along the way when it comes to the idea of what should be in a dream house, whether their house can be what they want it to be, or whether it’s time to find one elsewhere. Designer Hilary Farr and Realtor David Visentin take on the challenge of a couple each week in Love It or List It.



Then there are those who aim to make the idea of a dream home possible for others to either support their families or as an investment. The Toronto, Canada based contractor Scott McGillivray, himself an investor, allows that to happen in Income Property, my personal favourite of the network’s shows.



Even though I’m now in my dream home, I never get tired of what HGTV has to offer. These aren’t your ordinary programmes about the home. They are about the dream home – and a reminder that everyone has their own idea of a dream property and that it’s always within reach.

What is your priority viewing, a programme you can never be tired of? Have your say in the comments section below.


Kettle mag, America season