What Is the Ultimate HGTV Show?

House Hunters or Fixer Upper? Property Brothers or Love It or List It?

By Lauren Piester, Jean Bentley Sep 14, 2016 10:29 PMTags
HGTV Bracket, Fixer Upper, House Hunters logo, Property Brothers, Tiny House Big Living logoHGTV

While clearing off my DVR in preparation for Fall TV to start in earnest, I realized something kind of embarrassing: for someone who does not own any property whatsoever, I watch a LOT of HGTV.

In honor of Guilty TV Pleasures Week, I decided to see if I could determine the best show on the network once and for all. The problem: HGTV has been around for 20 years and debuts new shows all the time. It would be impossible to even come up with a list of every show that HGTV has ever aired, let alone rank them.

So instead, my fellow non-homeowner HGTV addict Lauren Piester and I have created a bracket tournament. Most of the competing series are more current, with a few throwbacks to a decade or so ago when the network was really coming into its own. So yes, there will be plenty missing—probably enough to create a whole new bracket—and yes, it will be more skewed toward 2010s programming.

With that in mind, please enjoy our Ultimate HGTV Show Tournament. If you're sad we skipped your favorite shows, please let us know in the comments!

2016 Fall TV Spoiler-rama
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ROUND 1: The Round of 64

Jean: There are a loooooooooooot of HGTV shows. Did you know how many, Lauren? TOO MANY TO COUNT. So I did my best to come up with a diverse selection of series, then grouped them into divisions that I found logical.

Lauren: While I personally think that those divisions could have been as simple as "Fixer Upper," "Not Fixer Upper," and "Things Related to House Hunters," I'm on board with these categories. My personal fave is "Canadian."  


RENOVATION DIVISION: Fixer Upper, Good Bones, Rehab Addict, Income Property
KITCHEN DIVISION: America's Most Desperate Kitchens, Kitchen Crashers, Kitchen Cousins, Divine Kitchens With Candice Olson
RENOVATION SPINOFF DIVISION: Beachfront Bargain Hunt Renovation, House Hunters Renovation, House Hunters International Renovation, Genevieve's Renovation
DESIGN DIVISION: Design on a Dime, Designed to Sell, The High Low Project, Design Star



PROPERTY BROTHERS DIVISION: Property Brothers, Buying and Selling, Brother vs. Brother, Property Brothers: At Home
BEACHSIDE DIVISION: Beachfront Bargain Hunt, Hawaii Life, Island Hunters, Beach Hunters
BATHROOM DIVISION: Bath Crashers, Divine Bathrooms With Candice Olson, I Hate My Bath, Save My Bath
FLIP DIVISION: Flip or Flop, Five Day Flip, Flea Market Flip, Flipping the Block


CANADIAN DIVISION: Love It or List It, Love It or List It, Too, Holmes on Homes, Property Virgins
LANDSCAPING DIVISION: Yard Crashers, Gardening By the Yard, Curb Appeal, Going Yard
HGTV CLASSIC DIVISION: Divine Design, Room By Room, Color Splash, Decorating Cents
CELEBRITY DIVISION: Dina's Party, Ellen's Design Challenge, The Jennie Garth Project, The Vanilla Ice Project



REAL ESTATE DIVISION: House Hunters, Scoring the Deal, Selling New York, Beat the House
TINY HOUSE DIVISION: Tiny House Hunters, Tiny House Builders, Tiny House, Big Living, Tiny House Arrest
HOUSE HUNTERS SPINOFF DIVISION: House Hunters Off the Grid, House Hunters Pop'd, House Hunters on Vacation, House Hunters: Where Are They Now?
INTERNATIONAL DIVISION: House Hunters International, Caribbean Life, Building the Bahamas, Castle Hunters

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ROUND 2: Division Semi-finals

Jean: Honestly, this was the easiest round. The only real issue I had is knocking out Rehab Addict so quickly, which I know will be a controversial choice for some, but I think Scott McGillivray is the biggest mega babe on the network (sorry, Property Brothers) and this is my bracket so Income Property won for me. I also wanted to make sure that my girl Sandra Rinomato got her due as host of the early seasons of Property Virgins, but she ultimately couldn't top the sheer Canadian goodness of Mike Holmes fixing other contractors' mistakes on Holmes on Homes.

Lauren: No complaints here (that comes in next round) because we've now dumped all the shows I don't usually watch. I'm still over here wondering how there could possibly be enough shows solely about bathrooms to make up a whole branch of the bracket.



RENOVATION DIVISION: Fixer Upper and Income Property beat out Good Bones and Rehab Addict. My game, my rules!
KITCHEN DIVISION: Kitchen Crashers and Kitchen Cousins beat out America's Most Desperate Kitchens and Divine Kitchens With Candice Olson.
RENOVATION SPINOFF DIVISION: With apologies to Queen Genevieve Gorder and her many successful shows on HGTV, she just couldn't beat out the power of House Hunters Renovation and House Hunters International Renovation, meaning Genevieve's Renovation and Beachfront Bargain Hunt Renovation are out.
DESIGN DIVISION: Design on a Dime and Design Star beat out Designed to Sell and The High Low Project (still love you, Sabrina Soto!).


PROPERTY BROTHERS DIVISION: Property Brothers and Brother vs. Brother are obviously Drew and Jonathan Scott's superior shows, so Buying and Selling and Property Brothers: At Home are out.
BEACHSIDE DIVISION: There's nothing wrong with Hawaii Life and Beach Hunters, but Beachfront Bargain Hunt and Island Hunters are the superior shows and move on.
BATHROOM DIVISION: Bath Crashers and Save My Bath beat out Divine Bathrooms With Candice Olson and I Hate My Bath.
FLIP DIVISION: Since Flipping the Block was a poor adaptation of Australia's excellent home improvement competition The Block and Five Day Flip can't hold a candle to Tarek and Christina El Moussa, Flip or Flop and Flea Market Flip win.



CANADIAN DIVISION: On a network filled with some of Canada's best programming, these are the most Canadian shows of all. With that said, you can't beat the original Love It or List It or the charm of Mike Holmes and Holmes on Homes. Sorry, Love It or List It, Too and Property Virgins, you're out.
LANDSCAPING DIVISION: Curb Appeal isn't strictly a landscaping show, but it focuses on the outside of your house and it's also great, moving ahead with Yard Crashers. Gardening By the Yard and Going Yard are gone.
HGTV CLASSIC DIVISION: We wanted to pay homage to some of HGTV's O.G. programming, but Room By Room and the budget-friendly Decorating Cents can't beat Divine Design and original HGTV Design Star winner David Bromstad's series Color Splash, both of which move on.
CELEBRITY DIVISION: There's something novel about a former rapper finding new life as a home improvement expert, so The Vanilla Ice Project and Ellen's Design Challenge move on while Dina's Party and The Jennie Garth Project are out.



REAL ESTATE DIVISION: House Hunters and Selling New York are simply better shows. Bye, Scoring the Deal and Beat the House.
TINY HOUSE DIVISION: Hello, Tiny House, Big Living and Tiny House Hunters, goodbye, Tiny House Builders and Tiny House Arrest.
HOUSE HUNTERS SPINOFF DIVISION: To be honest, we're not sure we've actually seen House Hunters Pop'd and House Hunters on Vacation was a boring, no-stakes version of the tried-and-true House Hunters format, so the others, House Hunters Off the Grid and House Hunters: Where Are They Now?, move on by default.
INTERNATIONAL DIVISION: House Hunters International and Castle Hunters for life! Bye, Caribbean Life and Building the Bahamas.

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ROUND 3: Division Winners


RENOVATION DIVISION: Fixer Upper vs. Income Property
Jean: Even I, Scott McGillivray's biggest fan, cannot deny the power of Chip and Joanna Gaines.
Lauren: Chip and Joanna Gaines are king and queen of the HGTV kingdom and I will slap the shiplap out of anyone who tries to claim otherwise.
WINNER: Fixer Upper

KITCHEN DIVISION: Kitchen Crashers vs. Kitchen Cousins
Jean: To be honest, I don't watch shows that focus on specific rooms of the house very often, but I like what I've seen of Kitchen Cousins so they can win.
Lauren: I am tremendously bothered by the title Kitchen Cousins so I'm rooting for Kitchen Crashers. But I respect the fact that you have actually seen one of those shows, so I'll let you choose.
WINNER: Kitchen Cousins


RENOVATION SPINOFF DIVISION: House Hunters Renovation vs. House Hunters International Renovation
Jean: I'd much rather see someone revamp a beautiful Italian farmhouse than a cookie-cutter house in the 'burbs.
Lauren: House Hunters International always wins for me, no matter what's tacked onto the end.
WINNER: House Hunters International Renovation

DESIGN DIVISION: Design on a Dime vs. Design Star
Jean: Would we even have Design Star without the lasting power of one of HGTV's longest-running shows? I don't think so.
Lauren: Design Star's fun, but Design on a Dime is simply a classic.
WINNER: Design on a Dime


PROPERTY BROTHERS DIVISION: Property Brothers vs. Brother Vs. Brother
Jean: I mean, I watch old episodes of Property Brothers before I go to sleep, so that's always got my vote.
Lauren: I flippin' hate Property Brothers (the show, not the people). The clients are always idiots who seem to have never seen a single episode of any HGTV show—especially the one they're on, and the role of the real estate brother seems completely made up just to give him some dramatic acting to do. The appeal of these guys is their hilarious brotherly relationship, which is why Brother vs. Brother is so much more fun, and why I would like to wield the executive power I don't have and determine that it should win.
Jean: Well, you sold me! And so it shall be.
WINNER: Brother vs. Brother


BEACHSIDE DIVISION: Beachfront Bargain Hunt vs. Island Hunters
Jean: I like both of these shows just fine, so I don't really have a stake in this fight.
Lauren: Beachfront Bargain Hunt has the better name and the idea of a person buying an island just seems gross to me. Buying beachfront property is fantasy enough!
WINNER: Beachfront Bargain Hunt

BATHROOM DIVISION: Bath Crashers vs. Save My Bath
Jean: Um…Bath Crashers? Just 'cause I'm more familiar with the format?
Lauren: Why are there shows entirely about bathrooms?!
WINNER: Bath Crashers 

FLIP DIVISION: Flip or Flop vs. Flea Market Flip
Jean: Aw yeah, I do love me some Tarek and Christina. I think it's mostly because I think Christina looks like one of my friends and I feel like flipping houses is kind of my dream job, if only I had hundreds of thousands of dollars to play with. (Sorry, boss!)
Lauren: Flip or Flop annoys me. They've done this a thousand times and yet still walk into every house and lose their minds like they'll never be able to pull it off. Also, their designs are boring! Flea Market Flip is a very different show, and sometimes they do horrible things like paint antique wood neon green, but I can watch it for hours. However, Flip or Flop is a staple of HGTV, and the general concept is great, so I guess I get the appeal.
WINNER: Flip or Flop

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CANADIAN DIVISION: Love It or List It vs. Holmes on Homes
Jean: This is a truly horrible choice. But in terms of sheer watchability, I think the fact that Hilary and David have each other to play off of is really important. Plus, I think Love It or List It has proven to be the longer-lasting show. I'll give it to them, but just by a hair.
Lauren: I have watched many, many hours of Love It or List It, and my opinion of it is that it has an excellent concept and Hillary Farr is a genius, but the manufactured drama between her and David is cringeworthy at best. It still wins, though.
WINNER: Love It or List It


LANDSCAPING DIVISION: Yard Crashers vs. Curb Appeal
Jean: I have to admit, I really think I love Curb Appeal mostly because it was the show on most often when I first started watching HGTV. So I'm voting for it regardless.
Lauren: I don't care about the outsides of the houses. (I mean I do, but not enough to watch shows about them.)
WINNER: Curb Appeal

HGTV CLASSIC DIVISION: Divine Design vs. Color Splash
Jean: Let us all hail the design goddess Candice Olson, hero to tall girls everywhere.
Lauren: Candice wins.
WINNER: Divine Design

CELEBRITY DIVISION: Ellen's Design Challenge vs. The Vanilla Ice Project
Jean: This is the weirdest Celebrity Deathmatch ever! But I still think Ellen would win no matter the contest.
Lauren: I truly love the fact that Vanilla Ice does home renovations so I would probably vote for that if I were being honest, but I think I agree that Ellen should win.
WINNER: Ellen's Design Challenge

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REAL ESTATE DIVISION: House Hunters vs. Selling New York
Jean: House Hunters all day erry day.
Lauren: There is not even the slightest of contests here. House Hunters 4ever.
WINNER: House Hunters


TINY HOUSE DIVISION: Tiny House Hunters vs. Tiny House, Big Living
Jean: I'll defer to you, oh wise one, expert of all shows tiny house-related.
Lauren: Let me start by saying that I record every episode of every tiny house show on TV, and I watch several per day, rotating through each show so I never get tired of any one of them. Tiny House Hunters is great, but 90 percent of the tiny houses are kind of the same. Plus, sometimes you get weirdos who can't stop complaining about how tiny their tiny house is, even when their tiny house is like 500 square feet. You also end up with a lot of families of five trying to fit into 200 square feet just because it's cheaper, even if their kids lose out on having actual beds. Tiny House, Big Living, however, follows people building their own customized tiny houses that are just right for them, and everything from the people to the houses themselves are just much more fun to watch. So Big Living wins!
WINNER: Tiny House, Big Living

HOUSE HUNTERS SPINOFF DIVISION: House Hunters Off the Grid vs. House Hunters: Where Are They Now?
Jean: I'm sorry, you want to live off the grid but are happy to document your search on a reality show? No thank you.
Lauren: I really do want to know where they are now!
WINNER: House Hunters: Where Are They Now?

INTERNATIONAL DIVISION: House Hunters International vs. Castle Hunters
Jean: This is easy.
Lauren: I live for the a--holes on House Hunters International with their big dreams, tiny budgets, vague accents, and ability to complain about literally everything. You complete me, House Hunters International.
WINNER: House Hunters International

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ROUND 4: HGTV Fight Club

FIGHT 1: Fixer Upper vs. Kitchen Cousins
Jean: Gaines Family FTW.
Lauren: Chip and Joanna Gaines laugh in the face of the Kitchen Cousins.
WINNER: Fixer Upper

FIGHT 2: House Hunters International Renovation vs. Design on a Dime
Jean: Listen, we're trying to pit a spinoff of a spinoff against an actual, original show. Come on.
Lauren: Love you, HHIR, but Design on a Dime is way easier to say.
WINNER: Design on a Dime

FIGHT 3: Brother Vs. Brother vs. Beachfront Bargain Hunt
Jean: I'm happy for the families that find their dream beachfront vacation houses, but I'll watch the Scott brothers over those second home-owning jerks any day of the week.
Lauren: One time, one of the brothers had to dress up as a showgirl. They found shoes for him and everything!
WINNER: Brother Vs. Brother

FIGHT 4: Bath Crashers vs. Flip or Flop
Jean: Another super easy contest.
Lauren: Let's be honest, Flip or Flop has to make it until like the final five, no matter how much it annoys me.
WINNER: Flip or Flop

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FIGHT 5: Love It or List It vs. Curb Appeal
Jean: In my heart of hearts, I know that I cannot live without Hilary's brusque British problem-solving when her dumb clients realize they have no room in their budget for the problems their 100-year-old homes will inevitably have.
Lauren: Sorry Curb Appeal, we decided to list it.
WINNER: Love It or List It

FIGHT 6: Divine Design vs. Ellen's Design Challenge
I admire that Ellen hired design experts to help judge her competition show, but how about we go with a woman who actually is a design expert herself?
WINNER: Divine Design

FIGHT 7: House Hunters vs. Tiny House, Big Living
Jean: If there is one single show I could watch nonstop for a week straight, it would probably be House Hunters. It's perfect for any occasion and I will even watch episodes I know I've seen before if I can't remember which house they choose (like when you're watching Law & Order and can't remember the killer).
Lauren: HOW DO I CHOOSE? I personally would probably go Tiny House, but I recognize the impact that House Hunters has had on the HGTV landscape as a whole so I will allow it to win. But the tiny house movement is sweeping the nation and once it's done sweeping, there's nothing we're going to be able to do about it.
WINNER: House Hunters

FIGHT 8: House Hunters: Where Are They Now? vs. House Hunters International
Jean: Where Are They Now? is one of many shameless attempts to capitalize on House Hunters' success, but we all know that none of the spinoffs work quite as well as the original and its international sister.
Lauren: International, always and forever.
WINNER: House Hunters International

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ROUND 5: Eliminations

FIGHT 1: Fixer Upper vs. Design on a Dime
Jean: Nothing can top the almighty power of shiplap.
Lauren: Sorry, Design on a Dime. You had a good run.
WINNER: Fixer Upper

FIGHT 2: Brother Vs. Brother vs. Flip or Flop
Jean: Here's where my Scott brother loyalty comes out. Tarek and Christina, you gotta go.
Lauren: The Scott brothers win here, regardless of the shows themselves.
WINNER: Brother vs. Brother

FIGHT 3: Love It or List It vs. Divine Design
Jean: When it comes down to which show I'm more likely to binge for six hours on a random Saturday, it's all about Love It or List It.
Lauren: Love It or List It reigns supreme.
WINNER: Love It or List It


FIGHT 4: House Hunters vs. House Hunters International
Jean: Ah! This is one of the hardest choices of this whole game. I think it comes down to whether you want to watch people looking at identical homes in Florida subdivisions or being shocked when tiny Paris apartments don't have giant American-sized fridges.
Lauren: International all the way. The houses are cooler, the locales are more interesting, and the complaints are so much more entertaining. There are cool houses in the U.S., but until House Hunters finds them, I'm team International.
WINNER: House Hunters International


ROUND 6: Final Four

FIGHT 1: Fixer Upper vs. Brother Vs. Brother
Jean: This boils down to which family you like the most, I think. Is it the sweet, Texas vibe of the Gaines clan or is it the luscious locks and Canadian humor of the Scott brothers?
Lauren: I love my parents to death but I would still allow Chip and Joanna to adult-adopt me.
WINNER: Fixer Upper

FIGHT 2: Love It or List It vs. House Hunters International
Jean: Here's where the fakeness of each show comes into play. We all know by now that House Hunters fakes plenty (picking people who have already closed on houses, pretending homes are for sale that aren't even on the market), but somehow I don't mind that when compared to the fake arguments on Love It or List It. There's no way EVERY SINGLE COUPLE has one half who's so adamantly against moving and one adamantly against staying.
Lauren: This is a hard one, thanks to the reasons Jean already listed. Both are fake AF, but House Hunters International is a lot less stressful to watch, and fun wish fulfillment. I constantly yell at my TV when Love It or List It is on, and that cannot be healthy.
WINNER: House Hunters International

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ROUND 7: The End

THE FINAL FIGHT: Fixer Upper vs. House Hunters International

Jean: I think this is a great final two. The current HGTV sensation going up against one of the network's earliest breakout hits.

Lauren: I think you know what (or rather who) I'm going to choose.

Jean: Yes, and I get your loyalty to the Magnolia Farms corporation. I have spent soooo many hours watching Chip and Joanna work their magic. But I do have some issues with her taste—namely, her dedication to decorating walls with quotes and words and her proclivity for painting perfectly nice brick white.

Lauren: Sometimes she leaves bricks brick colored! And Chip points out when her white washing has gone too far. I'm not saying they're perfect in every way, but I'd live in every design they come up with, and I'm constantly amazed by how they've managed to create a show that's totally compelling even without any manufactured drama between them or their clients. The only thing I'm mad at is that a night in their bed and breakfast costs $700. That's just nuts.

WINNER: Fixer Upper

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