Why is America Obsessed with Chip and Joanna Gaines?

I’m on the phone with my mom, self-proclaimed HGTV enthusiast, about home decor and she asks “have you seen Fixer Upper?” No I have not. “It’s this husband and wife renovating houses; I think you would like their style”, she offers. Who is this couple? I hear about them all the time. I see people referencing their greatness on Instagram. Magnolia this. Magnolia that. During the 2016 election my cousin says “I just wrote Chip and Joanna Gaines in the write-in for President” and he says it with a completely straight face. What is the big deal? What the heck is shiplap?

I don’t own a TV and haven’t watched cable for years. I’m not a huge fan of reality TV in general. Then in late 2017 I bought a home—a process that certainly raises one’s awareness of the real estate business. I can’t remember how the Gaines entered my world but when the time finally came, they paraded in with a vengeance. Basically what I’m saying is, I have now purchased-several-items-of-the-Magnolia-brand-from-Target-bought-all-issues-of-the-Magnolia-Journal-past-and present-watched-various-clips-of-fixer-upper-and-interviews-and-I’m-seriously-considering-starting-a-farm-but-wait-I-live-in-a-townhouse-and——-I’m-hooked. How did this happen?

Chip and Joanna Gaines are arguably some of the greatest phenoms to come from reality TV. I’d like to deconstruct why America loves them, or at least why I like them.

I believe they represent the American dream. These are two people who are young and smart and ambitious and attractive. They began as plucky entrepreneurs, survived considerable obstacles (specifically the historically volatile housing market), and have never stopped dreaming. They are simultaneously humble and ambitious. They are decent people living on faith and hard work. They’ve triggered massive  economic momentum for their beloved hometown. They exercise their unique skills and derive immense satisfaction in the fruit of their labors. They make great money doing what they love. They utilize opportunities to serve others. They’ve achieved all this while raising a happy, healthy family.

Isn’t that literally what every decent American wants? People inhale this Magnolia brand to borrow that addictive creativity for their living spaces. They soak up details of C+J’s lives searching for some secret recipe of happiness and success. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. We need examples. We need true stories of imperfect people who have “made it”.

The problem is to think that you can somehow mimic their happiness by buying Joanna’s favorite lipstick. One can’t cheat the pathway to success through a brand. I’m not saying people shouldn’t purchase their product (I certainly won’t be stopping), just to pay attention to why they’re doing so. Maybe I should try believing in the untapped potential within myself. My inner creativity. My dreams.

The question is, can I get off my butt and do something great with my own life?



Photo Credit: https://magnolia.com/about/


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