HGTV’s 16 Biggest Scandals


Home & Garden Television, commonly referred to as HGTV, is one of the biggest channels on television and is watched by millions of Americans every day. HGTV broadcasts a wide range of reality-based shows, primarily related to real estate, home improvement, gardening and remodeling. It’s definitely not surprising that reality TV can be a breeding ground for controversy and scandal, especially since the stars are everyday people and the guests who appear on their shows are real-life contestants from all walks of life, but we must admit, we’ve seen some pretty big scandals come from HGTV over the past few years! Here’s a list of the 16 biggest HGTV scandals:

16. American Flag Tablecloth

In 2013, HGTV aired a special segment called “Classic Fourth of July Table Setting Ideas” and suggested the not-so-brilliant idea of using the beloved American flag as a table runner. What made matters worse was their explanation for using the flag which was “so spills can be easily wiped off and the flag can later be hung with pride on a flagpole.” Most people know the American flag is a prized possession that should be treated with the utmost respect and people are very sensitive about that — just ask Kaley Cuoco! When viewers flooded their Facebook with comments bashing their segment, HGTV issued a formal apology: “HGTV Fans, regarding the recent article that appeared on our website…This was a regrettable use of our flag and it never should have happened. We sincerely apologize and have removed the post from our website. We want to assure our fans that HGTV is proud of the American flag and everything it symbolizes for our people.”


15. Carter Oosterhouse Accused of Sexual Misconduct

Carter Oosterhouse first rose to fame on TLC, but has since moved onto HGTV to star on his own show, Carter Can. As women in the entertainment industry started speaking out about sexual misconduct in the workplace, Carter’s name was thrown into the pool by a former colleague. In December 2017, Kailey Kaminsky, a former makeup artist on his HGTV show, told The Hollywood Reporter that he’d coerced her to perform oral sex on him numerous times during production in 2008. According to her, these actions led her to lose her job and be hospitalized for depression. While Oosterhouse denies he had a “coercive” relationship with Kaminsky, he did admit that he was intimate with her. He said it was “100% mutual” and that she even initiated their relations. He also insisted he’s never been intimate with any other crew-member in his life. Oosterhouse has been married to Amy Smart since 2011 and now has a daughter with the actress.


14. Fixer Upper Drama

Chip and Joanna Gaines are popular stars on HGTV, but this hasn’t protected them from scandal. People were upset when they learned contestants don’t get to keep the furniture put in their home when it’s “fixed up.” Apparently, all the furniture comes from Joanna’s store, Magnolia Market, and is simply put in the home upon reveal to make it feel cozy, but it’s not part of the cost included in renovating their home. There’s also been the issue of homes appearing on Fixer Upper being rented out on Airbnb, which seems harmless except for the fact that Chip and Joanna aren’t down with the idea. They released this statement to share their feelings on the subject: “We have no problems with our clients’ interest in using sites like VRBO and Airbnb to rent out their homes. In fact, we get it. But we are going to be more strict with our contracts involving ‘Fixer Upper‘ clients moving forward. We want to do remodels for clients’ homes. That’s the true intent of our show, and we want to ensure that does not get lost in this new vacation rental trend.” In other words, they’re not too happy about it.


13. Ellen Design Challenge

You’d never think to see Ellen DeGeneres name on this list, but her HGTV show Ellen’s Design Challenge stirred up quite the controversy in 2015 when winner Tim McLellan was accused of stealing his design from another designer. In less than a week his name was dragged through the mud and his $100,000 prize was given to runner-up Katie Stout. When he appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show he denied plagiarizing anyone’s work. While he wasn’t given his win back, Ellen seemed to take pity on him when she said, “Most furniture is a derivative of something. Maybe something starts it, but chairs, tables, everything — it’s similar.”

The Ellen Degeneres Show

12. Fan Scam

In October 2016, it was revealed that fans of HGTV’s Flip or Flop paid to enroll in a three-day course that ended up being what they would describe as — a flop. Customers were told that if they signed up for these courses they would be given advice on how to flip homes and gain access to investors who would give them cash to buy properties. This did not happen. According to more than a dozen people interviewed by the Associated Press, Tarek and Christina El Moussa never showed up for the classes; instead, they prerecorded a video that said they were busy filming the show and working. Also, there was little to no instruction and many of them argued that the only thing the course taught them was how to sign up for more courses. HGTV has said they were not associated with this project and therefore hold no fault. The El Moussas never addressed the issue and now it’s been announced the couple has been broken up since May 2016, which might explain why they weren’t in attendance.


11. Chip Gaines Sued for Fraud

In April 2017, Fixer Upper star Chip Gaines was sued by two former partners who claimed he scammed them out of some serious cash. Legal documents stated that John L. Lewis and Richard L. Clark were seeking over $1 million in monetary relief after Gaines allegedly committed fraud by buying them out of their shared business Magnolia Realty. The legal document stated that Gaines “forced the sale of the business for a fraction of its true value by hiding the fact that ‘Magnolia’ was soon to receive nationwide advertising and branding,” and that “Chip Gaines told Lewis and Clark, ‘There are no assets’ and that the company is ‘less than worthless.’” A few days after Gaines bought out their shares, he announced his show was picked up by HGTV. Gaines’ attorney, Jordan Mayfield, said to TooFab: “We are confident that these claims will be found to be meritless, and it is disappointing to see people try to take advantage of the hard work and success of Chip and Joanna Gaines.”


10. Love It or List It

In April 2016, HGTV’s Love It or List It came under fire when Deena Murphy and Timothy Sullivan demanded the show’s production team own and fix the crappy work they did on their home. The North Carolina couple filed a suit against Big Coat TV and Aaron Fitz Construction on the grounds that their house was left “irreparably damaged” after they appeared on the show. Murphy and Sullivan asked the production team to fix the awful work the construction company did and claimed the show went against their wishes by hiring a contractor they didn’t like. According to them, the Love It or List It team left the house in complete disarray and renovated their home with low-grade carpet, ruined their floors by putting holes in them and painted the windows shut. Murphy and Sullivan said they paid a deposit of $140,000, but only $85,786.50 was paid to Big Coat TV by Fitz and the rest was pocketed for “staging.”

Facebook/Love It or List It

9. Nicole Curtis Custody Battle

Nicole Curtis is arguably more famous for her court battles than she is her own show! She currently stars on HGTV’s Rehab Addict, but ever since she broke off her relationship with former partner Shane Maguire shortly after finding out she was pregnant, she’s been embroiled in a nasty custody battle. This battle rages on today as Harper, who is now nearly 3-years-old, and still breastfed by Nicole, making it difficult for him to spend time with his father alone. They even fought over what to name their son and at one point she faced jail time after she took their son to New York with her during one of Shane’s scheduled visitations. Her neverending legal troubles definitely posed a threat to the show, but thankfully the show has continued on.

Credit: Courtesy Nicole Curtis

8. Flip It Forward

Remember the HGTV show Flip It Forward? Probably not because it got shut down before it even reached the air! It was pegged to debut in October 2014 but was quickly pulled when one of the stars made some controversial comments about same-sex marriage, abortion, and Islam. Flip It Forward was four weeks into production when it was shut down. It was later revealed that the shows hosts, twin brothers David and Jason Benham, had led prayers at anti-gay protests. To make matters worse, it was then found out that their father, Flip Benham, was an extreme anti-choice, conspiracy theorist preacher.

Twitter/David Benham

7. Beginning of Fixer Upper is Fake

When it comes to reality TV it’s almost a given that some aspects of the show aren’t so real, but viewers do expect a large portion of it to be authentic. Similar to House Hunters, Fixer Upper has come under fire for being staged. Season 3 participant, David Ridley was interviewed by Fox News in 2016 and he revealed that the beginning of the show is entirely fake. He said in order to apply for the show, the participant has to have already purchased their home: “You have to be under contract to be on the show. They show you other homes but you already have one. After they select you, they send your house to Chip and Joanna and their design team.” So essentially the first half of the show is completely staged and fabricated.


6. Dream Home

Ever wonder how amazing it would be to win one of those “dream homes” valued over $1 million dollars that HGTV gives away each year? We do too! Turns out they aren’t all that great. Most of the time when someone wins this house they have to sell them almost immediately because the taxes are way too high to maintain. On the bright side…at least they get the money from the sale?


5. Property Brothers Brawl

The seemingly innocent and fun-loving Property Brothers smudged up their good reputation when news broke of a bar brawl involving Jonathan Scott, one of the esteemed twin brothers. This wasn’t just a bad exchange of words — things got physical when he had to be dragged from the premises and put in a headlock by one of the bar’s bouncers. According to reports, the fight started because Jonathan and his friends got mad when their drinks were taken away as the bar shut down. Scott had to be put in a headlock by one of the bouncers, dragged out of the bar which caused the TV star to get even angrier and call 911 to report that he’d been assaulted. TMZ obtained a video of the whole incident, but it wasn’t enough to get any of them in trouble so charges were dropped due to a lack of evidence.

Source: HGTV

4. Chip and Joanna Gaines Preacher

Not long ago Buzzfeed revealed some pretty shocking news about Fixer Upper stars, Chip and Joanna Gaines. To be fair it’s not personally about them, but they are guilty by association. It was discovered that Jimmy Seibert, the pastor of their evangelical church openly opposes homosexuality and gay marriage. HGTV responded with a statement that read: “We don’t discriminate against members of the LGBT community in any of our shows. HGTV is proud to have a crystal clear, consistent record of including people from all walks of life in its series.” The Gaines never released a statement in their defense. Afterwards, the Benham brothers from the cancelled show, Flip It Forward , came to their defense on Facebook and said: “Chip and Joanna Gaines are a wonderful family. They’re pro-God, pro-Bible, they’re pro-people, they’re pro-Jesus. What’s happening right now is a witch hunt.” The Benham’s show was cancelled because they spoke out against homosexuality. Birds of a feather flock together?


3. Nicole Curtis Sued by City of Minneapolis

The City of Minneapolis originally filed a lawsuit against Rehab Addict’s Nicole Curtis in January 2017 after she purchased a house in the city for $2. In the suit, the city claims that Curtis “failed to develop the property,” “substantially complete minimum improvements,” “failed to pay real estate taxes” and “failed to maintain the required insurance” and that they would like the home to be repossessed. In Curtis’ response, she claimed she took on the home to save taxpayers money because it was facing demolition which typically costs taxpayers around $20,000. She responded on Facebook by writing: “I fight for the underdog. Always have, always will…and for the past two years, I was threatened and harassed regarding our work in Minneapolis…We applied for a building permit and were told a 200k deposit would be required. Ever heard of that? Me neither. So there the project had sat. The City has spent time and resources blocking our plan for restoration — I have no answer for that.” Read the rest of her statement here.

Nicole Curtis Facebook

2. House Hunters is Staged

Back in 2012 former contestant, Bobbi Jensen, from HGTV’s House Hunter‘s basically said the entire show is a sham. She wrote a post on the Hooked on Houses blog that producers forced her to purchase a home before the episode aired making the entire process of “house hunting” throughout the episode — fake. According to Jensen, viewers think they are watching a couple tour three potential homes that their realtor found for them, but in reality, they’ve already chosen their home and the show produces two “other options” as filler. These houses typically belong to friends or family members. HGTV tried to diffuse the situation by releasing a statement that read: “We’re making a television show, so we manage certain production and time constraints while honoring the home buying process. To maximize production time, we seek out families who are pretty far along in the process. Often everything moves much more quickly than we can anticipate, so we go back and revisit some of the homes that the family has already seen and we capture their authentic reactions.” They basically admitted the accusations were true without actually coming out and saying it.


1. Flip or Flop Tarek and Christina El Moussa Split

On Dec. 12, 2016, news broke that popular Flip or Flop stars, Tarek and Christina El Moussa, had split. They released a statement through People magazine and said they had faced “challenges” in their marriage, particularly one “unfortunate misunderstanding about six months ago.” Their statement was bleak, but TMZ followed their announcement with some more details on what happened and it sounds like the “misunderstanding” was more of a scary incident. According to reports, their fighting started back in May when police were called to their Orange County home after responding to “a call of possibly suicidal male with a gun.” Witnesses saw Tarek take a gun from the safe, run out the door and “flee” down a hiking trail as Christina ran out of the house “shaking and crying.” When the officers finally caught up with him he said he wasn’t intending on hurting anyone and that he was merely out to “blow off steam.” They seized five guns from their home, including an AR-15. The pair has since decided to split amicably and said, “We will continue to work through this process civility and cooperatively, and plan to continue our professional life together.”

Katherine G

Katherine G

Katherine is the Managing Editor for Health and Parenting, but she has a soft spot for entertainment. She loves binging shows on Netflix, reality TV is a guilty pleasure, and country music is her go-to playlist. When she's not writing, she's spending time outdoors, especially with her puppy Zoey!