It’s only been a year since Chip and Joanna Gaines announced that Fixer Upper was ending and a scant seven months since the last episode aired. In its five seasons, the HGTV series spread joy among its fans, transformed Magnolia Market—and Waco—into a must-visit destination, and convinced countless homeowners to stop worrying and learn to love shiplap. But if you mourned the end of Fixer Upper, we’ve got some good news for you.
During an appearance on The Tonight Show on Friday, the Gaineses told Jimmy Fallon that they would be returning to television with their own cable network via Discovery, the media company whose holdings include Fixer Upper network HGTV. The details of the deal are still unclear. According a statement from Magnolia spokesman John Marsicano, the negotiations are still in the “early stages” and are “a work in progress.” The immediate reaction to the announcement has been overwhelmingly positive. Conservative and heartland outlets like Fox News and Country Living gushed about the announcement, as did left-leaning and hipster outlets like Jezebel and Vulture. We may live in divided times, but everybody loves an open-plan kitchen.
It’s unusual to announce a deal that, according to the couple, is still under a nondisclosure agreement. But presumably, ginning up enthusiasm about the network (which will likely be called the Magnolia Network, according to an unnamed and unauthorized source who spoke to USA Today) helps the Gaineses showcase their future target market. And that puts Discovery at a disadvantage. They can either give the Gaineses whatever they’re asking for in negotiations, or they can let anybody else who is interested in putting them back on television ride the wave of earned media and instant hype.
The couple’s relationship with the parent company that aired Fixer Upper has never seemed particularly fraught. But this announcement reminds us of some questions that Vanity Fair asked last year, not long after Fixer Upper left television. Did the Gaineses bow out of Fixer Upper because the network bristled at them showing items from their own Magnolia Market line on the air?
“They kept insisting on showing things with the Magnolia label, even though Scripps [which was later acquired by Discovery] does not have a partnership with them on that stuff,” the source says. “This isn’t how business is done with Scripps. You have to come to some arrangement if you want to show your products on your HGTV show.”
The source said that the Gaineses had met with a few potential outlets about a new show. A limiting issue, the source said, is their still-existing contract with Scripps, which likely forbids them from doing another home-improvement show for another network. The source did not know if the Gaineses were pitching ideas for a series or a one-off special. “They’ve got to be pitching something in another format—maybe a talk show or something like that,” says the source.