Filmmaker gives NBC a house-switching series
Ava DuVernay believes that home is where the heart is … even in someone else’s home.
The acclaimed filmmaker whose credits include the movie “Selma” and the OWN drama “Queen Sugar” launches a “social experiment” for NBC with the premiere of “Home Sweet Home” Friday, Oct. 15. Each episode of the reality show created by executive producer DuVernay sees two families switch residences to experience each other’s lifestyles, then reunite to compare notes on what they’ve discovered.
“This came directly out of the quarantine,” DuVernay explains of “Home Sweet Home’s” genesis. “The idea came to me in May or June of 2020. We had been asked to stay inside for about three months at that point. It was a very scary time, and with the racial reckoning and social unrest and political climate that were swirling around us, I started to think, ‘How do you cut through that?’ ”
DuVernay says she saw “a lack of understanding of our commonalities. We celebrate differences in this show, but we’re also not grounding ourselves in similarities. It’s not done in a syrupy, ‘Pollyanna’ way, but in reality. Many of us gather with our families and care about our families, and we’re lucky if home is where we feel most comfortable, so this just brings it down to the basics.”
While she acknowledges that “the DNA of the show has been done before” — with “Wife Swap” and its celebrity-driven variation as two examples — DuVernay notes that “those shows were very steeped in conflict. This show is steeped in curiosity. There’s no one moving from one house to the other who doesn’t want to do it … no bratty kids, no upset spouse who’s left behind. This is about going into a new environment and seeing what you can learn.”
Making “Home Sweet Home” at what DuVernay terms “the height of the pandemic” last winter was “challenging from a production and logistics standpoint,” she allows, but she adds that recruiting families for it was no problem: “Maybe it’s the times that we’re in, but we got more than expected, thousands of them.”