‘A house divided’

Mimi White*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

HGTV (Home and Garden Television) is an American cable channel devoted to property TV, with programs that combine lifestyle and reality, demonstrating the rewards of home investments. Despite the focus on domestic property and the well-styled home, the programs are generally considered bland, and the cumulative impact of the network’s simple, formulaic programs is considered relaxing and even comforting. But some HGTV programs prominently feature domestic conflict as part of their repetitive narrative formula, disturbing the domestic ideals that the network promotes. While pat endings for individual episodes restore domestic harmony and unity through new (or renewed) domestic space, domestic disputes serve as a persistent reminder of everyday domestic discontent. This emerges in the shows with narratives that highlight conflict – House Hunters, House Hunters International and Love It or List It. But the implications resonate further in the context of the broader esthetic-textual dynamics of HGTV. Repetition within episodes, between episodes of any given show, among many different shows, and in the programming schedule makes the ‘happy endings’ as transitory as the domestic disputes that dominate individual episodes. HGTV programs are lifestyle–reality hybrids that promote quality lifestyle through reality-styled drama. The same textual strategies that demonstrate quality lifestyle also open the door to a lingering sense of domestic unease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)575-591
Number of pages17
JournalEuropean Journal of Cultural Studies
Volume20
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2017

Keywords

  • Domestic conflict
  • HGTV
  • House Hunters
  • House Hunters International
  • Love It or List It
  • domestic space
  • lifestyle TV
  • property TV
  • reality TV

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Education
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

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