Don't Leave Us, Hilary!

Move Over, House Hunters — Love It Or List It Is The *Real* Real Estate Show MVP

Sure it’s formulaic, but isn’t that the point?!

Ariela Basson/Scary Mommy; Getty Images, Discovery
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When Mother Hilary Farr announced her departure after 19 seasons on Love It Or List It, I teed up Vitamin C’s “Graduation (Friends Forever)” as a single tear rolled down my cheek. Surely the HGTV gods were playing a terrible trick. Home designer Hilary and her co-host, real estate agent David Visentin, ARE Love It or List It. So, when I read that Hilary was moving on because she found the show too formulaic, I was gobsmacked: Like every other HGTV show, isn’t that the whole point?

Love It or List It is one of the few HGTV shows I stop for when I see it’s on. The premise is simple: A couple loves their house but has outgrown it. One person wants to stay; one person wants to go. Hilary renovates the house while David shows them what’s on the market. At the end, they stare into their clients’ souls and ask them the big question: Are you going to love it, or are you going to list it?

David and Hilary are a dynamic duo, bouncing off each other like kids playing handball after school. What Hilary brings in sass, David brings in geniality. They technically compete for each couple’s loyalty, but there are never hard feelings. They are the quintessential squabbling brother and sister and are actually enjoyable to watch, unlike my brother and me when we’re bickering at the holidays. I love that their tension is a million percent platonic, as if Hilary’s giving David a noogie and she’s ribbing him with her elbow.

The show’s opening is the sweetest balm to my anxieties about my own living quarters. I am not alone in the chaos of an (unbelievably) imperfect house. The floor plan isn’t really functional. The bedrooms are less sanctuary and more places to plop down. The first-floor bath is reminiscent of an airplane lavatory. There’s no order, method, or approach to any of it. And yet, it’s home.

In 95% of the episodes I’ve seen, the couple decides to stay in their home, and really, who could blame them? Hilary has just gutted your house and reconfigured it to your liking. You get the finished product exactly to your specifications. With David, you get the extraordinary hassle of buying a new property, moving, and having no camera crew on hand to help. But he’s still goshdarn sweet when he inevitably loses.

I hope I didn’t just spoil this show for you because, though you might already know the ending before you see it, it’s still great television worth watching the whole way through. What I’m saying is it’s basically The Sopranos. It’s the lead-up to that final scene in the diner that makes it all worth it.

You’ve followed this family through the anguish of minimal closet space and no playroom for the kids. You’ve made arduous treks with them to new houses of questionable construction. You’ve been privy to their paltry, surface-level conversations about where the next 10 years of their life will unfold. When Hilary and David ask if they’re going to love it or list it, you’ve got as much skin in the game as they do.

In more than one way, it’s the best of both worlds. I get bored if I spend too long watching a home reno or real estate show. But Love It or List It is a wondrous mix — half hard hats, steel beams, and giant dumpsters in the driveway, the other half staged living rooms, open floor plans, and happy tears. Its slight, razor-thin competition gives it an edge and keeps you awake until the end, afternoon nap be damned.

The jury is still out on the show’s future as Hilary bids us farewell. I suppose a new co-host would make their own stamp on the show, but do I even want that? Not really. At least the constant stream of families like mine, all of us living in our perfectly imperfect spaces, will always have me tuning in.