HGTV Vice-President Says Network Headed for a ‘Very Dark World’

YouTube HGTV VP discusses new direction for network.

HGTV is known for its family-friendly home improvement content, but executives may be considering shows with a bit more grit.

A recent story from Ian Parker of The New Yorker discusses an executive meeting code-named “Project Thunder” to conceive future programming for the 26-year-old network. 

According to the New Yorker, Katie Ruttan-Daigle, vice-president of programming for HGTV, discussed a series idea unlike anything currently on the network.

So, Meth-House Makeover,” said Ruttan-Daigle,It is a very dark world, and rehabbing a meth house is not easy.”

Parker detailed the VP’s trio of ideas for the show.

Ruttan-Daigle sketched out three possible approaches: a series that, each week, documented the experience of people who had unwittingly bought a former meth lab; a series about a cleaning company specializing in meth labs; a series about entrepreneurs who look for inexpensive former meth labs to buy and renovate: meth-house flippers.

Despite this proposed series’ alternative-themed structure, the end goal would still be to produce a home renovation that wows its audience with a fantastic makeover. 

Other possible show titles emerged during the meeting, like Nightmare Neighbors 911 and The Worlds Weirdest Realtors.

HGTV is Making Changes

HGTV is open to expanding its brand into fresher territories. Building a team to accomplish that is seemingly the plan with the appointment of Jane Latman as president in 2019. Latman oversees development, programming, and overall strategy and operations.

According to a Deadline report Discovery’s (HGTV’s parent company) Kathleen Finch, Chief Lifestyle Brands Officer, had this to say about Latman’s new role:

“Jane understands how to grab and hold viewers’ attention, as evidenced by her tremendous track record of success with Investigation Discovery and, most recently, as General Manager of Travel Channel. I am thrilled to have Jane and her expertise at the helm of HGTV, one of the most iconic, successful, and well-loved brands in all of media.”

If programming like Meth-House Makeover moves from a suggestion to reality, HGTV will certainly grab viewers’ attention, but will it provide long-lasting appeal?

What Viewers Expect From HGTV

With shows like My Lottery Dream Home with David Bromstad and Fixer Upper with Chip and Joanna Gaines, fans have come to expect to see programming presented in a feel-good way. summed up what HGTV has offered its viewers since its inception.

For nearly three decades, HGTV has churned out lighthearted, wholesome content that, when consumed, feels like a warm hug. Its home renovation TV shows—particularly the programming over the past 10 years—have provided an easy watching experience for those of us looking for a soothing, formulaic, low-stakes viewing experience.

Nevertheless, the commitment to carve another lane is in full swing.

In a recent interview with Brian Steinberg of Variety, Latman shared more ideas about “stretching the HGTV brand.”

“We are kind of stretching the HGTV brand. We are looking for more storytelling – deeper stories, richer stories – leaning more into emotions around relationships,” says Latman. “In a sense, we are moving away from the strict format.”

Stay tuned.


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