The American TV dream
Americans have been inspired by TV since its inception in the 1920s, with many of Hollywood's darlings likely tracing their thirst for stardom back to their living room TV sets. In fact, America's unofficial first family, the Kardashians, found their fame thanks to their reality TV show. Since then, they've practically invented the concept of social media influence.
But other genres of reality television might be more educational, such as cooking and home improvement shows. To find out exactly how these home-related shows inspire Americans (for better or worse), we surveyed 1,000 people about the ones they love most. How many have executed a DIY home improvement or tried a new recipe based on something they watched? We'll look at how often these shows improve fans' domestic skills or lead to failures (and worse).
America's best home improvement shows
With many people working from home, home improvement projects are more popular than ever. We asked Americans which shows they adore and how they influence their home projects.
With rising costs hitting Americans due to record-high inflation, it seems fitting that "Amazing Interiors" ranked No. 1 for the most popular home improvement shows on TV, emphasizing American homeowners' interest in interior design. But considering the nation's record economic inflation, it's no surprise that "Design on a Dime" was rated No. 2 — especially since 51% of homeowners said their favorite shows are the ones they learn from. But although you can often save money by doing some home projects yourself, others are best left to the pros.
Other top shows, such as "Dream Home Makeover" and "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," are more geared toward idealists. Although these shows take on spectacular, big-budget projects, they still inspire the average homeowner. After all, inspiration is what makes these shows so great to watch, according to 47% of the people we surveyed.
No matter the show's theme, it must have the right cast. The third top reason people watch home improvement shows is that they like the host, cast members or both (as reported by 41%). And slightly more than one-third counted the shows' guests as key factors. Every personality needs to be entertaining to win points with these viewers.
While some home improvement shows are best for their entertainment value, others tend to inspire Americans to start their own home projects. While these DIY renovations might save viewers money, they can also lead to project flops and personal injuries.
Home improvement reality shows aren't just entertaining to watch; they also influence a ton of America's DIY projects. Over 90% of our study participants said one of these shows had influenced them to start a DIY project in their home. The top show that had this effect was, yet again, "Amazing Interiors." Meanwhile, "Flip or Flop" and "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" also landed in the top 10. But according to our survey, these shows were the inspiration behind the most DIY fails among viewers.
On the other hand, many Americans are saving money as a result of inspiration from home improvement shows. Fans inspired by "This Old House" who attempted home projects saved an average of $3,000. But as much as they can save, DIYers can also put themselves at risk; 75% of our respondents have injured themselves working on a home renovation project. And unfortunately, fan favorite "Amazing Interiors" was responsible for most of the injuries (88%).
Similar to the Kardashians, the glamorous lives of real estate moguls have also influenced many Americans. Case in point: "Selling Sunset." This reality show first aired in 2019 and has since seen two binge-worthy Netflix spinoffs. It has also inspired 84% of our respondents to move to a big city, and 1 in 2 to become a real estate agent. Now, that's some formidable influence!
Most beloved cooking shows
America's most loved shows about the domestic realm are not limited to home renovations. Many people are also inspired to change their diets and improve their culinary prowess through cooking shows. We asked respondents which ones are the best and what makes them so good.
The best recipes and cooking shows tend to have at least one thing in common: history. Homeowners ranked the classic home cooking show "America's Test Kitchen" as their top favorite. Other shows that revolve around dishes from different cultural and regional cuisines, such as "Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations" and "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives," were also named among the best. But some preferred a spicy pinch of competition in their culinary entertainment; "Master Chef" took the No. 2 spot and "Chopped" took No. 4, while "Beat Bobby Flay" and "Cutthroat Kitchen" took the bottom two of the top 10.
While it's fun to watch chefs sweat over their creations, many viewers turn to these shows to learn new things; 40% of our respondents said the best cooking shows teach them about different foods. Also, more than one-third shared that they enjoy watching those showcasing chefs' creativity.
Cooking shows that will inspire you to cook
It seems that, much like home improvement shows, cooking shows often inspire viewers to get their hands dirty — in the kitchen, at least. The inspiring ones can also teach viewers how to cook and improve their kitchen setups.
When it comes to the top inspiring cooking shows, "America's Test Kitchen" won the most hearts once again. And just like our list of the best overall cooking shows, the competitive ones took four of the top 10 spots here as well. Maybe the tension goes hand in hand with the culinary creativity viewers find in some of these shows.
But we found that the most inspiring shows encouraged more than just exploring new ingredients and cuisines. While 85% of fans have attempted to re-create a dish after watching, 89% of homeowners said it inspired them to improve their kitchen setup. A new stove was the top change, made by 49% of respondents.
While cooking shows lead some homeowners to upgrade their appliances, others have learned how to cook thanks to their TVs. Nearly 1 in 2 have learned how to cook by watching their favorite culinary hosts. They've learned the most tips from Ina Garten (host of "Barefoot Contessa"), to whom nearly three-quarters (71%) of the people we surveyed owe all their cooking skills. Fewer, but still a decent number of Americans, learned their skills from "Chef's Table" (61%) or "Cutthroat Kitchen" (57%).
Continued Learning Through the Cable Box
TVs not only have a place in our homes, they can also transform them. Home improvement and cooking shows entertain viewers while inspiring them to renovate their living spaces. The latter offers the additional benefit of teaching them to make good home-cooked meals. Whether it involves a culture-filled jaunt through foreign lands or a house-flipping adventure, take these shows with a grain of salt. While no one gets hurt watching these endeavors from afar, the reality can become much more painful if attempted without the proper tools and assistance.
For this campaign, we surveyed 1,000 homeowners who enjoyed watching reality shows on TV. Respondents were allowed to select multiple reality show genres. Among the shows they enjoyed watching, 76% enjoyed cooking shows, 67% enjoyed home improvement shows, and 64% enjoyed real estate shows. Of the respondents, 59% were men, and 41% were women.
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