It’s 2010. A group of creative types are gathered in a conference room, brainstorming and whiteboarding ideas for a new TV show.
After several hours of hearing and discarding ideas, silence has descended.
Then a bright young thing – let’s call him Pete – leaps from his chair and says, “OK! How’s this sound? A couple goes through a home renovation!”
The silence continues until the (bored) team leader says, “And then?”
The encouragement in the voice is sub-zero, but Pete runs with it.
“The couple looks and looks for their dream home, but they don’t have the budget for what they want, but if they buy a home they can afford and do a major renovation – voila! So they buy a home that needs tons of work.”
This time no one responds, but Pete’s on a roll and continues.
“But the renovation – the reno – has problems. It’s…it’s…fraught with problems.”
A voice says, “Did you just say ‘fraught’?”
“Yes, fraught! So let’s say the show starts at 8pm. It’ll be like clockwork: We have a major reno problem at 8:20pm, another at 8:35pm and again at 8:45pm. Major problems, major drama.”
Yet another voice says, “What kind of problems, exactly?”
(The team won’t admit it, but Pete’s got their attention.)
“The problem opportunities are endless! Black mold, termites, illegal electrical wiring, bad roof, shifting foundation, collapsing chimney, leaking windows, sloping floors…”
Pete pauses to catch his breath – then fist pumps the air!
“…wasps in the attic, bats in the belfry…The tension, the drama, the – the couple is so stressed, and they’re running out of money. One of them is crying. They’re both crying. And then…”
Pete pauses dramatically.
“Now it’s 8:55pm. The couple walks in. The renovation is finished. It’s better than finished. It’s…it’s THE HOUSE OF THEIR DREAMS! THEIR FOREVER HOME!”
Several team members and trying – and failing – to conceal their tears.
Pete, with another fist pump, “Total happy ending! Exclamations! Hugs! High fives! All in one hour!”
“Well,” he amended, “in 48 minutes.”
The team bursts into applause.
“And we don’t need to pay a bunch of union writers, because every weekly show’s structure is exactly the same: reno/problems/happy ending. Just change the couples and the house and – we could do this for years! I even see…I even see franchises!”
Pete’s roll is on a roll.
“And I know the perfect guy – guys – to host it. Get this: Jonathan and Drew Scott. They’re identical twins!”
The applause is almost deafening – the team leader can barely make himself heard!
“But what,” he shouted, “do we call it?”
The applause dies down, the room goes silent. Everyone on the team knows the right show name is critical.
“Reno Twins?” someone whispers.
“Demo Bros?” someone mutters.
“I’ve got it!” says Pete:
Practically every word of this could sort of be true.
The Property Brothers gold mine was launched in January 2011
And it is a gold mine – not only was Property Brothers hugely successful, today these guys have more franchises than Burger King:
And in each and every show, one of the highlights is what I’ll call “brotherly banter.” It sounds like this:
Drew: Is that the shirt you’re wearing today?
Drew: So – that’s the shirt you’re wearing today.
Repartee! Ripostes! Badinage!
And since its launch in 2011, Property Brothers has followed exactly the same structure: reno/problems/happy ending + banter.
The format has become so popular that there’s an Emmy category for it:
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Structured Reality Program
The award’s description could have been lifted directly from ole Pete’s playbook:
The category of “structured reality program” is defined as consisting of reality shows that “contain consistent story elements that mostly adhere to a recurring structured template.”
Property Brothers was nominated for the award in 2015, but alas, didn’t win. Which surprises me, because along with the buzz sawing and bug baiting and brotherly bantering, Drew and Jonathan were also teaching us new vocabulary:
Despite their disappointment, the bros rose to the occasion and offered this banter:
Jonathan: We didn’t win.
Jonathan: Somebody else won.
Undaunted, Jonathan and Drew got right back to work, publishing books in 2016 and 2017, launching Reveal magazine in January 2020, planning several more franchises, and hinting at other possibilities.
One of which is hosting a talk show, and I can hear that brother banter going at warp speed:
Drew: We have a special guest tonight.
Jonathan: A special guest.
Drew: A very special guest.
In the meantime, those bros are never too busy to strike a pose:
Jonathan: Are you painting my posterior?
Jonathan: You’re painting my posterior.