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Chip and Joanna Gaines are ready to see some more fixer uppers. In a move that should boost the already considerable anticipation for their upcoming network, the duo announced Tuesday that they’re bringing back Fixer Upper — the HGTV home renovation series that made them household names.
New episodes of Fixer Upper will be on the lineup when Magnolia Network, a joint venture between the Gaineses and Discovery Inc., launches on linear and digital in 2021. The on-air vehicle, one of a few for Chip and Joanna, will join a growing slate that also just added projects around interior designer Brian Patrick Flynn and Texas entrepreneur Jonathan Morris.
“The day we wrapped our final episode of Fixer Upper, we really believed it was a chapter closed,” said the Gaineses. “We knew we needed a break and a moment to catch our breath. But we also knew we weren’t done dreaming about ways to make old things new again. These past few years, we’ve continued tackling renovations and projects, doing the work we’re passionate about, but I don’t think either of us anticipated how the show would become such a permanent fixture in our hearts. We’ve missed sharing the stories of these families and their homes with you, and we’re excited to do that again very soon.”
It’s difficult to overstate how big of a success Fixer Upper was in the lifestyles genre. During its initial run, from 2013 to 2018, it became the No. 1 unscripted series on cable. Across first runs and replays, the fifth and final season brought in a wild 19.6 million viewers to HGTV. The reboot, which will also tape in and around the Gaineses’ hometown (and base of network operations) Waco, Texas, will be produced by their Blind Nil production company.
Magnolia Network, originally set to launch in October, is playing the waiting game like so many in the industry as the COVID-19 pandemic made production impossible for several months and now just incredibly problematic. Some series, however, have gone back into production.
“It is very case by case, depending on the state,” Magnolia Network president Allison Page tells THR. “There are also been places where we’ve started filming and then stopped again. Adherence to safety guidelines will never be sacrificed in order to meet a deadline. So we’re asking, ‘What is a full season?’ Do we need 13 episodes? 10? 8? We think that can work and give us a good runway to see what people like.”
As for what viewers like, Magnolia sampled select programming on DIY Network (the channel it will take over when it launches) in the spring. More than 2.5 million viewers tuned in for the four-part special, delivering the highest-rated day in network history. But DIY, historically one of the softer performers in Discovery’s lifestyles portfolio, has gotten a boost as so many Americans have been stuck at home and tackling projects.
“We will bring over some of the most beloved DIY titles,” Page says. “We’re talking to that audience now what they want to see on Magnolia. I think DIY represents a strand of our DNA, though that’s certainly not all of what we’re offering.”
In addition to more episodes of Fixer Upper, Page and company added two other new projects to the growing slate Tuesday: an untitled project featuring interior designer Brian Patrick Flynn, and Self Employed (working title), in which Texas entrepreneur Jonathan Morris travels the U.S. to meet small-business owners and hear their stories. That Morris, a Black man, is one of several non-white talent Magnolia has lined up is interesting not only because of the nation and the entertainment industry’s current dialogue of representation but because of lifestyles television’s long history of being overwhelmingly white.
“We’re having a lot of active conversations that I think people across the country are having about where we are,” says Page. “Joanna said from day one that Magnolia Network is a place where everyone has a seat at the table. We are we being true to that promise and not just on camera but with our producers and our own staff. We’re focused on that, and I think you’ll see it in upcoming announcements as well. We want to reflect the world that we live in.”
Magnolia Network has no official premiere date locked in, though the first quarter of 2021 seems likely — and certainly most desirable. After all, it’s been over a year since plans for massive undertaking were announced. In the meantime, the channel has at least one proven hit on its hands with the revival of Fixer Upper.
“When they told us a few weeks ago that they wanted to bring it back, we literally gasped in excitement,” says Page. “There’s been so much that’s gratifying about building this slate, but this really took us by surprise. It feels like winning the lottery twice in a row.”
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