Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (EM:HE; sometimes informally referred to as Extreme Home Makeover) is an American reality television series that premiered on December 3, 2003 on ABC. The series is a spin-off of Extreme Makeover that features a family that has faced some sort of recent or ongoing hardship receiving a makeover of their home.
The series was produced by Endemol USA in association with Disney-ABC Television Group’s Greengrass Television. The original run was formerly hosted by Ty Pennington; the HGTV iteration is currently hosted by actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson. The executive producers were Brady Connell and George Verschoor.
On December 15, 2011, ABC announced that Extreme Makeover: Home Edition would end its run on January 13, 2012, but continue to air network specials. Another spinoff, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition: How’d They Do That?, aired for one season between November 1, 2004 and May 23, 2005 and featured extra behind-the-scenes footage of what had happened in that week’s episode.
On January 15, 2019, HGTV announced that they would be reviving the series; the revival premiered on February 16, 2020.
Reaction and criticism
At several makeovers, they have been criticized for never doing any work at all, and just being there to put on a show. In 2007, during the makeover for the Carter Family in Billings, Montana, a local radio DJ accused Pennington of using a spray can of grease on his face to make it look like he was really working, only to be confronted over the air by Pennington himself, who called in from the construction site. The largest piece of evidence to prove the design team’s contribution to the house and the family is a severe hand injury that Ed Sanders received during a 2006 makeover in Ohio for the family of Jason Thomas. While creating a wood carving of the American flag, Sanders removed part of the guard for a hand-held wood grinder, which led to him slicing one of his hands open. Sanders took a leave of absence for nearly an entire season to recover.
The show has often been criticized by some viewers for unnecessary contributions and glorifying excessive suburban lifestyles, such as in a Mother Jones article that questioned giving a 6-bedroom, 7-bath, 7-television house to a family of 4 in Kingston, WA. However, ABC countered this criticism by explaining that the reason for the house’s large size was that it was designed with a dual purpose of functioning as a Bed and Breakfast.
In an article entitled “ABC’s ‘Extreme Exploitation'”, The Smoking Gun published an e-mail sent on March 10, 2006, from an ABC employee to network affiliates, relaying a message from the program’s casting agent detailing specific tragedies and rare illnesses sought by the show. Included were a “Muscular Dystrophy Child”, a “Family who has multiple children w/ Down Syndrome (either adopted or biological)” and a child with Congenital insensitivity to pain with anhidrosis. This last request included a parenthetical remark stating, “There are only 17 known cases in US – let me know if one is in your town!”
This e-mail has led some major media networks and blogs to accuse the show of opportunism in seeking out the most sensational stories in a push for higher ratings.
Another criticism aimed at the show surrounds financial issues that some of the families have had after receiving the home makeover, the majority of which have been found to be grossly exaggerated or completely untrue altogether. The most common allegation is that most of the families have sold their houses due to their inability to pay for them, and some have gone into foreclosure. The most widely known case involved the Harper Family, who sometime after receiving a new house from the show placed a $450K Home Equity loan on the house and used the funds to start a construction business, which failed after the housing market crash in 2007. As a result, the loan went into default and the family faced foreclosure. A few other families, including the Wofford, Vardon and Marrero families, have had some struggles, but most sources specifically point out that these troubles have little to do with the show or the makeover, and more to do with the recession, often citing reasons such as job losses and failed business ventures.
Another case involved the Tutweiler family of Chapman, Kansas, the family of an Iraq War Veteran who had lost their old home in a tornado. The Tutweilers received extremely negative criticism from their neighbors. In December 2009, the family put their home up for sale and made plans to move out of Kansas because of the scrutiny and ill feelings from their neighbors. According to Crystal Tutweiler, “We absolutely hate to leave the house, and we wish we could pick it up and take it with us, but it is not the house which makes you happy.”
The five children of the Higgins family, aged 14–21, filed a lawsuit against ABC after they were evicted by a family that had taken them in before the show came to renovate the family’s house. The five kids “say that the producers took advantage of the family’s hard-luck story and promised them new cars and other prizes to persuade them to participate in the program”, according to the LA Times. On July 17, 2007, Judge Paul Gutman ruled against the siblings, stating that the plaintiffs failed to prove their case. The decision of the trial court was affirmed on appeal.
Questions arose when Theresa “Momi” Akana was picked for the Extreme Makeover program for Hawaii. The Honolulu Advertiser investigated their tax records and found out that she and her husband each made over $100,000 in salary. Denise Cramsey, the executive producer of the show, responded with “I think Momi certainly fits the bill.” She defended the pick by stating that they look beyond the family’s finances and consider other factors, including family plight and contributions to the community.
This list includes both officially licensed versions and so-called copies of this show, mostly inspired by that, but not licensed by Endemol Shine Group, the current owner of format.
- Total includes specials
- “Extreme Home Makeover”. Springfield News-Leader. Gannett Company. Archived from the original on July 11, 2015. Retrieved July 18, 2015.
- Stein, Sadie (April 7, 2010). “The Nasty Aftermath Of Extreme Home Makeover”. Jezebel. Gawker Media. Retrieved July 18, 2015.
- Andreeva, Nellie (December 15, 2011). “ABC Cancels ‘Extreme Makeover: Home Edition’ As Regular Series, Will Air Specials”. Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved December 15, 2011.
- Petski, Denise (January 15, 2019). “‘Extreme Makeover: Home Edition’ Revival Set At HGTV”. Deadline Hollywood.
- Petski, Denise (November 20, 2019). “‘Extreme Makeover: Home Edition’ Reboot Gets HGTV Premiere Date & First-Look Teaser”. Deadline Hollywood.
- “Ty Takes On Radio Taunter: I’m No “Jackass!““. tmz.com. Retrieved September 12, 2015.
- “January 22, 2007 Entry”. Archived from the original on February 11, 2010. Retrieved December 21, 2009.
- “This New House”. Mother Jones. March 2005. Retrieved June 4, 2007.
Extreme Makeover: Home Edition recently gave a 6-bedroom, 7-bath, 7-television house to a family of 4.
- “ABC’s “Extreme” Exploitation”. The Smoking Gun. March 27, 2006. Retrieved June 4, 2007.
Makeover show loves sick kids, cancer patients, hate crime victims
- “The ‘Extreme Makeover: Home Edition’ Tragedy Wishlist”. Gawker. March 27, 2006. Archived from the original on November 5, 2010. Retrieved October 25, 2010.
The feel-good TV industry has never been more cutthroat, with the likes of Oprah, the Miracle Workers, and even Deal or No Deal’s Howie Mandel locked in a pitched battle to lavish America’s tragedy-afflicted souls with their own brand of televised redemption. Nowhere is this suffering-talent crunch felt more acutely than at ABC’s genre-leading Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, where the casting department has assembled a wishlist of interesting diseases and tear-jerking hard knocks that they feel will help keep their series atop the Nielsen mountain during their new season.
- “Extreme Makeover or Extreme Exploitation?”. NBC News. March 31, 2006.
- Phil Butler (December 2, 2009). “Dr. Brian Wofford Needs a More Extreme Makeover”. Everything PR.
- “Family’s ‘Extreme Makeover’ Home Temporarily Saved”. ABC 10 News. San Diego, CA. December 14, 2009.
- “‘Makeover’ home for sale”. Topeka Capital-Journal. December 12, 2009.
- Dehnart, Andy (August 11, 2005). “Orphans sue ABC, family over Extreme Makeover: Home Edition episode”. Reality Blurred.
- Walter Olson (July 22, 2007). “Judge rejects ‘Extreme Makeover’ lawsuit”. Overlawyered.com.
- “Higgins v. Disney/ABC Internat. Television”. FearNotLaw.com. March 18, 2009.
- Daysog, Rick (July 2, 2007). “‘Makeover’ home recipient earns $100K”. Honolulu Advertiser. Retrieved December 20, 2007.
- “Brasil recebe versão social do reality Extreme Makeover”. Exame (in Portuguese). Retrieved February 28, 2020.
- “Com Otaviano Costa, GNT anuncia versão de Extreme Makeover e já busca participantes”. F5 (in Portuguese). Retrieved February 28, 2020.
- “Extreme Makeover Israel”. Nana 10 (in Hebrew). Retrieved October 11, 2013.
- “Stiri de ultima ora, stiri online – Stirileprotv.ro”. stirileprotv.ro. Retrieved September 12, 2015.
- “Radna akcija by Ceresit”. Prva TV (in Serbian). Archived from the original on August 12, 2013. Retrieved August 31, 2013.