There was a big story recently in Hooked on Houses about House Hunters International being completely fake, so I thought I’d write a post about my experience filming my episode last year (check out my behind-the-scenes photos and the actual episode).
House Hunters International is not entirely factual, that’s for sure.
Here are the things about my HHI International episode that weren’t true:
- HHI claimed that I had lived in Taiwan for three months when I had actually lived there for six years.
- HHI claimed that my friend Jeannie had been living in Taiwan for some time when she had actually only been visiting for two weeks.
- HHI claimed that my friend Lief was a real estate agent, when in fact he was just a friend and photographer.
- As I’d suspect is the case in most episodes, the house that I chose at the end was the house that I actually had already lived in for some time.
So, it’s pretty plain that my HHI episode was not entirely factual. However, I think that many of those alterations of reality were somewhat necessary to produce the final product.
To be honest, I don’t have any idea why they felt in necessary to say I was moving there for the first time. I think that they thought it would be more dramatic. All that resulted in was awkward and poorly faked goodbye scenes with my family, who were accustomed to having me gone.
As the shoot approached, I asked several of my friends if they would like to be my house hunting companion. Everyone was interested, but there was one problem: they all had to work. Jeannie was the only person who was able to film the show with me because she was visiting. I think it’s pretty understandable that HHI would want to make it look like she actually lived in Taiwan, so that she would appear to be a good person to help me look for a house. We had, after all, originally planned to have one of my Taiwan friends help me.
It is really hard to find an English-speaking real estate agent in Taiwan. In the weeks before the show I contacted one in Taipei, but she wasn’t able to fit the show into her schedule. I contacted a second in Tainan, but he didn’t feel that his English was good enough for television. They comprised pretty much the entire English-speaking real estate agent population of Taiwan. We obviously couldn’t have a Chinese-speaking agent, and the show needed an agent, so my friend Lief stepped in to fill the gap.
Beyond those things, the show was pretty much true.
Personally, I can see how circumstances made some of those changes necessary. If they hadn’t made altered reality to fit the HHI formula, my show would never have been allowed to air.
House Hunters International is fake. So what? It’s not journalism. It’s entertainment. Our director and camera man were awesome, we had a great time making the episode, I got some publicity, and a few hundred thousand americans were entertained for 26 minutes, so I never thought much of the inaccuracies.
After we we had finished shooting Jeannie (also a blogger) and I were joking around with the producer, Paul.
“Can I write on my blog that House Hunters International is completely fake?” I asked him.
“I prefer to call it ‘scripted reality’,” He replied.