The Scott brothers perform their best when managed least. While adept at producing amiable talking head interviews, Jonathan and Drew are at their most relatable and funniest when their “presenting” veneer is stripped away.
A recent marathon appearance on QVC was vastly entertaining even as they flogged the same sheet sets over and over because the flat nature of scripted and over-repeated lines vanished.
And their finest Property Brothers series to date was one in which they examined the rebuild of their home in Vegas, which provided glimpses of the show behind the show, allowing the audience access to how shots were set.
Their latest spinoff, Celebrity IOU, brings them alongside fellow actors (the brothers are performers in addition to flashing actual real estate broker cred; in Jonathan’s case, he is a true contractor.)
The premise of Celebrity IOU is a twist on the usual “buy a dump, fix the dump” formula: A celebrity is gifting the renovation to a special person in their lives as a surprise.
As the Scotts really did get their start in house flipping as a way to support themselves while hauling their performing careers off the ground, watching them converse on camera with the likes of Brad Pitt was interesting.
The power balance of the typical client-renovator setup was reversed.
Instead of typical homeowners unused to a camera crew shoving giant lights in their faces, the brothers are now tangling with verified A-listers — or at the very least, people accustomed to media and operating as the sun of their own little universe.
One of the most compelling aspects of HGTV is that it lulls the viewer into how unrealistically easy it must be to simply whoooooosh remodel a home.
It should take, at most, an hour.
Now, with Celebrity IOU, we’ve added a dimension of no discernable budget. It’s rather nice to sink into that kind of non-virusy fantasy world for a while.
But the wisely pounded-into-the-ground HGTV formula still applies, Pitt or no Pitt:
Why Are We Here?
Brad Pitt is determined to de-crapify the garage of his longtime makeup artist, Jean Black, which contains a box marked “Butt Makeup.”
As Andy Dehnart points out on Reality Blurred, it was reasonable to expect the TV-adverse Pitt to show up for fifteen seconds, spread his musk around, and leave.
Instead, fans are granted the sight of Pitt slumming the suburbs in a newsboy cap, waving around sunglasses that cost more than my college education and talking storage options.
This garage outright angers Brad Pitt, who pronounces it a, quote, “s*****x.”
He mentions that Jean has done his makeup at her kitchen table and he’s crashed on her couch, so — and I’m trying really, really hard not to think this because I’m assuming dude is bankrolling the whole entire project — it’s fairly convenient for Brad that she’ll come out of this with a fancy new makeup station and guest room.
Never mind… look! Brad’s choosing tile.
The Brothers hold their own with Pitt, who has surprisingly insightful Things to Say about texture and color.
As the episode unfolds, it becomes clear that what’s happening here isn’t just a wash of paint for the s*****x, but the construction of a tiny house attached to the main house, complete with fully functioning kitchen, a Murphy bed, and a collapsible window wall.
Indeed, this episode is a major landmark in the Property Brothers realm in that their initial instinct is not to destroy all walls but to add one.
There’s a timeline, of course. Jean will be “out of town” for three weeks.
The Moment of Oh No
I didn’t fully catch what this episode’s Deadly Problem was, but it seemed that Jonathan was having issues with the collapsible wall and how it pushed out into the landscaping.
He recommended a patio, and Brad said to do the patio, and then BAM there’s a patio.
The Magnifying Glass of Contentment
The custom design is a wow, especially for a slap-together décor manager like me, whose design solutions in the kitchen involve using a two-shelf office cabinet as a pantry and whose “outdoor seating” consists of a folding chair.
The reveal is almost always the best part of a home improvement show, but for this episode in particular, we see Jean clearly excited about her spectacular new space.
It’s especially touching to watch her reaction when she discovers a photo of her parents taken in their youth.
Our brief time with Jean illustrates why Pitt must like and trust her: she gives every evidence of being an actual human being, honest and somewhat shy, who is willing to take and give some sass.
These quiet moments are a sharp contrast to the misty Oscar-style montage which introduces Pitt (Long Hair Version! Anniston-attached version! Shaved version!)
Such B-roll highlights his status as a modern-day icon and juxtaposes the rapidly shifting nature of visual media consumption — from traditional films watched exclusively in theaters to personality-driven content streamed anywhere the customer happens to be standing.
Hollywood has joined HGTV in the world of data downloading.
We Have Questions
The renovation’s got three weeks from demo to Magnifying Glass of Contentment, right? And this is taking place in California, where it’s illegal to own a pinball machine or for animals to mate within 1500 feet of a school or house of worship.
They’re adding a patio without first suffering 87 years of delays for permit changes?
We’re talking plumbing, HVAC, remote control pop-up vanity mirror. Electrical work. The digging of trenches. California excels at prohibiting these kinds of things. It’s pretty much on the state flag.
How’d they pull this off?
Never mind, Brad has safety goggles, and he’s helping with the demo!
I advise immediate protection for this historic episode from the National Film Preservation Foundation, as it not only involves increasing the number of walls in a homeowner’s space but also not adding a beam.