If you are like me, you have probably thought long and hard about whether you could hack it on HGTV. Not so much with the construction—it recently took me three attempts to get a nail in my wall, and I worry even now that the little plant I hung from it will soon come crashing down—but at least with the mannerisms. Were you to find yourself suddenly home-shopping on House Hunters, could you convincingly demand an open floor plan and luxury finishes? Could you envision the pink-tile walls of some dehomed grandmother crumbling to reveal the requisite master suites, teen rooms, and crown molding, and speak imperiously about equity and neighborhood comps? If you are like me, you have probably not been given the opportunity to try.
So, let us thank the network formerly known as Scripps for bestowing such an attempt on a supremely worthy couple: actress-designer-author-titan-of-industry Gabrielle Union and her husband, Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade, whose house-flipping special, All-Star Flip, aired Thursday night. All-Star Flip is OK television: Union and Wade buy what they describe as “an undervalued house in an up-and-coming neighborhood” in the Miami area. They hire contractors to spruce it up, and then resell it, all while amicably bantering throughout. It’s notable, mostly, for how very normal it is: Union and Wade follow the HGTV house-flipping script—and you better believe there’s a script on a network that currently features no fewer than 34 different shows with “flip” in their names—to a T.
I do not know for sure that Union watches HGTV. She might not! Certainly, she has better things to do than await the Property Brothers’ installation of white subway tile, or parse the romantic underpinnings of interactions between Clint Harp and Joanna Gaines (RIP, Fixer Upper).
And yet, having watched her—less so Wade, who is “away” (i.e. playing basketball) for much of the episode—wander into a bland suburban bungalow and leave a gleaming, monochrome spectacle in her wake, I can’t help but wonder if she, too, has spent more than a few Sundays in the land of Beachfront Bargain Hunt. She confidently rattles off HGTV buzzword after HGTV buzzword, extolling the value of “indoor-outdoor living” and the transformation of the kitchen into “a cook’s paradise.” “You know how I feel about breakfast nooks,” she tells Wade with the utmost seriousness.
And where there is house-flipping, so too is there demo day. Here we have Wade trying his hand at Bobcat demolition:
Still, there are some hints that Union and Wade are not quite your standard house flippers. As they tour the property, Wade says sagely of a fountain, “The only thing about these is that it never seems like it works right. It always gets clogged up.” Our man has seen a lot of fountains. Then there comes a laugh-out-loud moment when, midway through construction, Union spontaneously decides to tack on a second floor to the house. “Yes,” she tells the camera, “we are upping the budget by almost $100,000, which is a bit radical. But based on my research of comps in the neighborhood, when we go to sell this home, it’s going to pay off big time.”
It does, of course. In the end, there are eager buyers and a tidy profit, because HGTV is a vector with room only for success. Union cheerfully informs us that they’ll take home a $130,000 profit, a sum that would probably qualify as “life-changing” for most people but for Union and Wade might fairly be considered a rounding error. Still, you can hardly fault them, and let’s hope that this paycheck at least gives them some extra time to relax—and maybe, just maybe, catch up on a little HGTV.