Foreclosed Homes Become Reality TV Fodder

Cable networks take advantage of failing real estate

From self-promoting Z-list celebs to emotionally unstable cat hoarders, what’s bad for America is often good for reality TV. So what trend are they exploiting now? The hundreds of thousands of homes lost in the recession.

Networks are flipping the popular “house flipping” script by launching shows about foreclosed homes, reports The Wall Street Journal. In September, Spike TV will launch Flip Men, a show about a Salt Lake City duo that buys and sells foreclosed houses. Bravo’s Flipping Out will feature its star, interior designer Jeff Lewis, trying to buy a foreclosed home to live in. Later this year, A&E will premiere a show about flipping houses (some foreclosed) in Houston, hosted by a former Survivor star. And DIY Network has yet another foreclosure show in development for 2012.

During the real estate boom, shows about flipping houses experienced their own boom on cable TV. As the market slowed, those gave way to home decoration and improvement shows. And when the economy took a nosedive, shows like A&E’s Flip This House, TLC’s Flip That House, and Bravo’s Flipping Out were either pulled from the air or retooled.

Now, with the real estate market at a low, foreclosure shows are all the rage among programmers. “People want to watch programs that reflect the current reality, not a fantasy,” said Flipping Out star Lewis, who says that he expects “more and more” shows about foreclosed homes.