‘Fixer Upper’ is must see TV for growing fan base

Alicia Rancilio
Associated Press

New York – — With all the joking and hamming for the camera that Chip Gaines does on “Fixer Upper,” it’s hard to believe that he initially was the shy half of the husband-and-wife duo that’s garnered huge fans and ratings for HGTV.

“He was scared of the camera at first where it was a real phobia,” said Joanna, who plays the Abbott to Chip’s Costello. “He would freeze up and then he would have to exit, and it would just be me.”

To say that edge wore off is an understatement —— he once got so comfortable that he ate a dead cockroach, just to prove he would. Joanna responded with a mix of shock, humor and disgust, and he drew plenty of laughs, including from viewers.

It’s the combination of humor, love and chemistry between Chip and Joanna that have made the Waco, Texas-based home improvement show one of HGTV’s most popular shows — its recent season finale was the fifth highest broadcast in the network’s history. As the name suggests, “Fixer Upper” has the couple taking a subpar home and remaking it into a dream house thanks to Joanna’s designs and Chip’s carpentry work. Devoted watchers now know all about Joanna’s love of shiplap (wide-wooden board siding) and their four kids.

“We love seeing the transformations. It inspires us to see the potential in our own home,” said Tara Melodick, of Toms River, New Jersey. “(They) have such great chemistry. They really seem to love each other and love what they do. How many people get to make a living doing what they love most, with the person they love most?”