Here’s an HGTV horror story: Chip and Joanna Gaines almost never made it to the TV screen.
When the network first contacted the Waco, Texas-based designer-contractor couple to shoot a pilot, things didn’t get off to a great start. The Fixer Upper stars reveal on Tuesday night’s “How We Got Here” episode, that they were very close to getting passed over altogether.
Lucky for all of us, Chip pulled a classic Chip move, and surprised Joanna with a big purchase that she was not exactly on board with — and that moment, caught on film in the clip above, is what sealed the Gaineses’ TV deal and led to their wildly successful career.
“Ta-da!” Chip says to his wife as they pull up to a dilapidated houseboat in the video. “This is where we’re going to live for a couple of months.”
Joanna’s natural reaction ranged from “shut up” to “Baby, really, is this a joke?” Only to find, of course, that her husband was very serious.
“It’s not nearly as nice as I’d hoped for,” he admits, adding that he bought it sight unseen. “That’s what you get.”
To add insult to injury, the risky business deal was actually meant as a present for his wife.
“This is my Mother’s Day gift,” Joanna says with a chuckle. “I would rather a Hallmark card at this point, for sure.”
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But because they were #couplesgoals even before their hit series, the designer rolled with the punches and the two laughed their way through the tour of what Joanna 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 admits to the cameras after the incident. “Good heart, big mistake. But what do you do? You don’t want to spank him!”
Chip quickly gets on the phone to see if he can 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.
Even though she had a sense of humor about it, Joanna stood firm that she and their four kids, Drake, 12, Ella, 11, Duke, 9, and Emmie Kay, 7, would not be joining Chip below deck.
“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.”
It was a reality TV love story from there, leading to one of the highest rated series on HGTV that is now in it’s fifth and final season.
To see the hilarious moment for yourself, watch the clip above and tune into Fixer Upper Tuesdays at 9:00 p.m. EST on HGTV.