A suspected drunken driver just opened up a can of worms for “Fixer Upper” hosts Chip and Joanna Gaines.
Early Saturday morning in Waco, Texas, a man crashed a Hyundai into a house that fans of the HGTV show know as the rehabbed “Three Little Pigs” home from Season 3.
But the accident also revealed that the homeowners are unhappy with crime in the neighborhood. They blame both the city and the Gaines’ Magnolia Realty company for their situation, turning a national spotlight on what’s going on behind the scenes in “Fixer Upper” land.
“Did a car accident reveal a darker side of HGTV’s biggest hit?” shouts the headline on a Vanity Fair story posted Monday.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Kansas City Star
The home’s owners, Kelly and Ken Downs, say they’ve been dealing with crime in their neighborhood ever since they moved in after being chosen to appear on the HGTV show.
They are angry at the city of Waco for doing nothing about the crime and also blame Magnolia Realty for showing them a house in such an iffy neighborhood.
“This is what we’ve been saying. There’s a big problem here. It’s not safe,” Kelly Downs told the Waco Tribune-Herald after the weekend crash. “This is a ‘Fixer Upper’ gone bad.”
The couple told the newspaper they aren’t sure whether they’ll repair the home or move.
“It’s like the Wild West here,” Kelly told the newspaper. “There’s been a lot of commotion coming from the bars and the store across the street. It’s been a problem from the beginning.
“We’ve lived here a year and a half, and we feel deceived by the city of Waco and Magnolia Realty.”
Ken, a digital design engineer, and Kelly, an occupational therapist, moved to Waco from Dallas and went house-hunting with Magnolia Realty after being chosen for the HGTV show.
The couple’s comments drew quick national attention toward the show. A representative for the Gaineses did not respond to requests for comment from either local or national media outlets, Fox News and People magazine among them.
“Fixer Upper has riven a town in two, ushering in a new flood of upstart home renovators looking to score dilapidated houses in dodgier parts of town so they can make them shiplapidated instead,” writes Vanity Fair.
“There’s always an assumption on these colonizers’ part that they will be greeted warmly, because they’re adding value to the neighborhood, beautifying it some. And sometimes that is true. But other times the raging local bars rage on and someone drives an automobile through your house.”
At the same time, the Downses credited a design choice by Joanna Gaines for perhaps saving their lives in the crash.
They were sleeping in an interior room when the car came crashing through the front of the house shortly before 1:30 a.m. Saturday.
They believe they might have been injured if the car hadn’t been stopped from reaching the interior bedroom they were in by a fireplace Gaines moved to the front of the house, the couple told the Tribune-Herald.
Authorities found the driver, Allen Wayne Miller, 31, inside a Hyundai Accent wedged inside the house. He was charged with driving while intoxicated.
“Fixer Upper” wrapped up its fourth season in March. People noted how the Gaineses bless each of their rehab projects with “cute names ... denoting a quirk or other undesirable characteristic of the ‘before’ house.
“The nickname the Downses’ destroyed cottage received in season three, episode 10 now reads like a premonition: ‘The Three Little Pigs House.’”