Ty Pennington Takes a Sledgehammer to That Weird ‘Extreme Makeover: Home Edition’ Backlash

Years into ABC show’s success, media began blaming producers for piling debt onto homeowners

Ty Pennington

“Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” was not only one of the biggest shows on broadcast, it was also among the nicest — though perhaps the series became too popular for its own good. At one point deep into its ABC run, “Makeover” began getting press pushback (like here and here and here) for how a few of its featured families fared financially after the cameras stopped rolling.

The logic behind the media backlash never sat well with this writer, so TheWrap asked the face of the program Ty Pennington if he could explain it to us.

“On ‘Extreme Makeover Home Edition,’ we did absolutely phenomenal things,” the TV host and carpenter began. “And honestly I don’t know if there will ever be a show quite like that — that on network television, there’s a show that actually benefits a family. On television, that’s just unheard of. Let’s face it, it’s about ratings, it’s about ad sales — it’s about all those sorts of things.”

Yeah, yeah, that’s all nice — but get to the part where you left the reality show’s subjects in financial ruin, Ty!

“Not only do we build a brand new house, we usually paid off the college tuition for their children — basically left them without any debt whatsoever,” Pennington told TheWrap. “But yes, the property tax probably went up a little because the value of the house went up.”

Oh, and some utilities rose, too, as modest homes became McMansions. But is that really what all the late-breaking fuss was about?

“There’s a couple of stories that families lost their home,” Pennington continued. “We left them with a financial adviser. However, if the family chooses to triple-mortgage their house to start a business that they’ve never done before just to see if they can get into it, that’s their own demise. That’s how you lose your home, is you’re like, ‘Oh, let’s use it as a lottery ticket and see what we can get out of it. And then you lose it because you can’t make the payment.”

The “Trading Spaces” star added: “But that’s what press does. They were like, ‘This is too good to be true, what is really happening?’ But with ‘Extreme’ it really was that good.”

Our bad.

Readers can next catch Pennington in TLC’s “Trading Spaces” reboot, which returns to TV on April 7.

He’ll also co-host Season 3 of Hulu’s “Small Business Revolution – Main Street,” which will premiere this fall. We’ll find out on Tuesday which of five finalist towns — Alton, Illinois; Amesbury, Massachusetts; Bastrop, Texas; Martinez, California; or Siloam Springs, Arkansas — won the public’s vote for a $500,000 renovation.

Try not to look for the negative in that wonderful concept, fellow reporters.