by Tierney Bricker | Wed., Aug. 8, 2018 12:48 PM
When it comes to home renovations, you're not supposed to see the cracks.
But for Flip or Flop, highlighting the cracks in Tarek and Christina El Moussa's marriage during the current season has led to one of the best flips in recent HTGV history, avoiding the flop many predicted just two years ago.
When news broke in 2016 that the El Moussas, one of HGTV's most beloved couples, were splitting, many wondered if it would mean the end of the original Flip or Flop, one of the network's highest rated series. Could they still work together? Would they even agree to film with one another? Would they get their own shows?
However, despite the former couple filed for divorce in January 2017, which was finalized a year later, Tarek and Christina continued to film together, choosing not to paint over their divorce drama on the show. And viewers are captivated.
HGTV announced they were picking up Flip or Flop for an eighth season on Wednesday, ordering 15 additional half-hour episodes after season seven has attracted more than 15.2 million viewers to-date. That number is up over 18 percent from the previous season, according to the network.
"HGTV fans have followed Tarek and Christina through scores of house flips and supported their personal journey for years," Allison Page, president HGTV and Food Network, said in a statement. "We're eager to see how they continue to run their flipping business, co-parent their children and start new chapters in their professional and personal lives."
Highlighting their personal lives was a gamble that paid off for HGTV, testing whether or not fans who loved the couple together would still want to watch the exes, who have two kids together, Taylor, 7, and Brayden, 2, navigate divorce amidst demolitions.
Their divorce drama was playing out in the tabloids after an incident involving Tarek and Christina, as well as law enforcement, surfaced...could they really not air even a little bit of their dirty laundry while continuing to work together on a daily basis?
"Let's be honest—it was awful," Tarek recalled on the Dr. Drew Podcast in April of the media attention on their split. "I mean, there was more PR about our divorce than any divorce I think I've ever seen...It was wild. On every single magazine, on every news outlet. It was just beyond me."
But before their split became public, sources told E! News that Tarek and Christina constantly fought and bickered on set while trying to present a united front. According to our insiders, they even had to be kept apart during filming breaks, and when the El Moussas refused to speak to each other off camera, messages were relayed by others on their behalf. Of course, none of that tension ever made it on-air.
Now, the sugar-coated gloss has been removed, and it took both realty stars some time to adjust to the new normal.
Tarek admitted to E! News that working with your ex isn't an easy task, which viewers are watching play out this season, which ends its run on September 6 before returning in Spring 2019.
"We do our best to be as professional as possible but every now and then we have to jab at each other—sometimes more serious than others," Tarek said of navigating post-split filming when he appeared on Daily Pop in May. "It's kind of how it goes nowadays."
Tarek said season seven was "absolutely different than anything" fans had ever seen from the duo...and from most couples on HGTV. If Chip and Joanna Gaines were arguing on-camera, it was usually playful banter. Property Brothers' Drew Scott and Linda Pham are blissfully in the honeymoon phase. For Tarek and Christina, the gloves occasionally come off.
"We got into a few arguments that I didn't think were going to make camera and they did," Tarek admitted.
Christina also wasn't sure how the couple's post-divorce dynamic would go over with viewers, telling E! News in June, "We want to make sure we're giving the fans what they want. If it's not comfortable to have so much personal life, then maybe we tone it back a bit. It's relatable that we have to put our differences aside to continue to work together and do what we're good at, which is flipping houses and designing homes for other people."
Given the ratings resurgence, it's clear HGTV fanatics will take the El Moussas in any iteration...and the network is seeing if they will respond to them apart as well.
Christina is set to star in her own show, Christina on the Coast, which will premiere in early 2019, and follow Christina as she expands her design business while she also searches for the perfect new home for her fresh start, balance parenthood and career and a new relationship.
That new relationship is with British TV presenter and car expert Ant Anstead, currently the host of the automotive-minded Wheeler Dealers, which airs on Discovery in the U.K. and the Velocity Channel in the U.S, whom Christina has been dating since late 2017.
"The past few years have brought a lot of change into my life and I am so excited to see what the next stage has in store for me both professionally and personally, there is so much to look forward to and this is only the beginning," Christina said in a statement after Christina on the Coast was announced.
Given the level of interest in the El Moussas' divorce and post-dating lives, a spinoff centering on Christina seemed like a no-brainer for the network, with Page noting in a statement that her fans "are deeply vested in her personal life and eager to see ‘what happens next'—so we're bringing them the opportunity to share in these real-life moments in a way that no one else can."
Tarek, who launched his own YouTube show, The Pick Me Up Project, earlier this year, is also in discussions to develop a potential new show with HGTV, which has expanded the Flip or Flop franchise to include six spinoffs since it began in 2013.
With the network recently saying goodbye to its former golden couple Chip and Joanna, whose hit series Fixer Upper ended its five-year run in April, it looks like HGTV has no plans to separate from the El Moussas anytime soon.
New episodes of Flip or Flop airs Thursday nights at 9 p.m. on HGTV.
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