How do you preserve a popular television franchise built around a couple if the couple breaks up?
Find another couple. Easy, right?
Well, it is and it isn’t. HGTV’s home-flipping series “Flip or Flop” originally was structured around Tarek and Christina El Moussa’s adventures in renovating houses in Southern California, yielding one of the network’s most-watched shows. When the spouses decided to separate last year, it had to have shaken programming executives who then were faced with what to do about the program.
It took a while, but the decision was made to branch out to other couples in other locations. “Flip or Flop: Vegas” had its maiden run earlier this year, and performed well enough in showcasing Bristol and Aubrey Marunde to secure a second-season renewal. Now comes “Flip or Flop: Atlanta” – premiering Thursday, July 20 — with Ken and Anita Corsini as the latest mates.
And yet to come: “Flip or Flop: Fort Worth,” “Flip or Flop: Nashville” and “Flip or Flop: Chicago.” (There’s no “Flip or Flop: Oshkosh” yet, but stay tuned.)
It can be argued that whichever couple is at the center of any variation of “Flip or Flop,” the show itself is the “star,” focusing as it does on such universal house-flipping concerns as pricing a property competitively and choosing the right materials to spruce it up and attract buyers. That said, the charisma between those who execute the flip is no small matter in television-series terms.
Not only did viewers get to know the El Moussas over six seasons (episodes that have aired recently have hinted at the new post-marriage dynamic between them), they became familiar with the couple’s daughter Taylor (“Tay-Tay”) and – more recently – their infant son Brayden. Thus, there was the sort of personal connection with the audience that those behind such unscripted shows deeply wish for.
Even if the premise is the same in other editions, it often takes time to warm up to others who try to fill the principal roles. As the network tries to sell the same concept with new faces, it’s a matter of choosing the right “faces” to carry the mission forward while meeting with viewer approval.
So now, it’s on to “Hot-lanta” … with other cities, and hosts, set for flipping soon.