Could reality television not be as real as we believe? Bobi Jensen, who was a participant on HGTV's House Hunters, said the show was fake, claiming producers altered her actual experience while searching for a home.
House Hunters is centered around homebuyers during their search for their dream homes. The participants of the show are shown three houses by a real estate agent, while cameras film their reactions and eventually their decision-making process. Then, two months after the home is selected, House Hunters joins the homebuyers in their new digs to catch up.
Aside from only looking at three homes, the concept sounds pretty real? Or is it?
Jensen roused controversy on Monday when she admitted to the blog Hooked on Houses that House Hunters is fake. According to Jensen, producers of the HGTV show in Texas wouldn't consider her family because their story was boring and overdone. So, they changed the tale for the cameras.
The producers said they found our (true) story-that we were getting a bigger house and turning our other one into a rental-boring and overdone, Jensen wrote. So instead they just wanted to emphasize how our home was too small and we needed a bigger one desperately. It wasn't true, but it was a smaller house than the one we bought so I went with it.
And that's not all. Jensen said producers wouldn't invite her to be a participant until she actually found a home and closed the deal. Then, she was responsible for finding other houses to pretend to be interested in, despite having already closed a deal.
When they decided to film our episode we had to scramble to find houses to tour and pretend we were considering, Jensen said. 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!
Jensen said the filming process was also phony, as the show alternated between her old and new homes and there were sometimes five or six takes on each scene.
Now, Jensen said watching how the panned out still makes her feel uncomfortable to this day.
When I re-watch the episode I cringe, since we have lived in an even smaller house quite comfortably! she said.
Jensen's story prompted HGTV to respond to her claims regarding the authenticity of the show in a statement given to Entertainment Weekly. While the television network did not admit the show was fake or staged, it did own up to creating a fun viewing experience.
We've learned that the pursuit of the perfect home involves big decisions that usually take place over a prolonged period of time - more time than we can capture in 30 minutes of television. However, with a series like House Hunters, HGTV viewers enjoy the vicarious and entertaining experience of choosing a home - from establishing a budget, to touring properties and weighing the pros and cons of each one. 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. Showcasing three homes makes it easier for our audience to play along and guess which one the family will select. It's part of the joy of the House Hunters viewing experience. Through the lens of television, we can offer a uniquely satisfying and fun viewing experience that fulfills a universal need to occasionally step into someone else's shoes.
However, HGTV isn't the only one with a shady mo. Bobi Jensen admitted that she and her husband agreed to do the show for free advertising since he worked as a realtor when the show was being filmed.