HGTV nearly passed over America’s favorite shiplap-loving couple for Fixer Upper, but one candid moment saved the show.
When the network first contacted Chip and Joanna Gaines to shoot a pilot episode, things didn’t get off to a great start. The Waco, Texas-based designer explained in their book, The Magnolia Story, that they were uncomfortable in front of the camera, stiff and calculated.
And on Tuesday night’s “How We Got Here” episode, the couple revealed the moment that secured their series, which is now in its fifth and final season.
The moment showed Chip pulling a classic move; he surprised Joanna with an extreme purchase that she was not on board with and, for once in filming the pilot, the camera caught their candid reactions.
“Ta-da!” Chip said to his wife as they pull up to a run-down houseboat. “This is where we’re going to live for a couple of months.”
Joanna’s hilarious reactions — which we’ve now come to know and love — ranged from “shut up” to “Baby, is this a joke?” In reality, the moment was a real surprise from Chip that may have ruined Joanna’s day, but catapulted their careers.
“This is my Mother’s Day gift,” Joanna revealed to the camera while letting out a chuckle. “I would rather a Hallmark card at this point, for sure.”
“It’s not nearly as nice as I’d hoped for,” Chip said of the boat, which he bought sight-unseen. “That’s what you get.”
While viewers know that the Gaines power couple can renovate just about anything, Joanna wasn’t particularly excited about what she described as a “shipwrecked” floating house.
“Chip is like that kid, like the five-year-old kid that’s trying to make his mom breakfast and there’s milk everywhere,” she laughed to the cameras after the incident. “Good heart, big mistake. But what do you do? You don’t want to spank him!”
In the candid moment, Chip quickly got on the phone to see if he could remedy his mistake, admitting that the deal didn’t quite pay off the way he’d hoped.
“The goal was that I was going to move the family into this houseboat while we renovated the farmhouse, and boy did that dream not come to reality,” he said.
While Joanna put on a smile, she assured Chip that she and their four kids, Drake, Ella, Duke and Emmie, would not be staying below the deck for any amount of time.
“If he can’t work this thing out, this is gong to be home sweet home and mama’s gonna be mad,” she says. “He’s going to be sleeping on this boat by himself.”
From that point, the Gaines family secured their spot in reality TV history, becoming one of HGTV’s highest-rated series and launching a variety of national business opportunities.
While the couple’s current fifth season will be its last, citing their expanding family and other work as reasons to exit the series, they will be appearing in upcoming episodes of Fixer Upper: Behind the Design for fans who can’t get enough of their farmhouse style.
Watch Fixer Upper’s final episodes Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on HGTV.