Trading Spaces Trailer

It’s difficult to talk about Trading Spaces without the television context it lives within, specifically the endless reboots, both scripted—Will & Grace, Roseanne, Murphy Brown, Dynasty—and non—Queer Eye—that have come out over the past few years. Some have picked up where their original left off, rolling around in that pit of nostalgia until you’re left with the oddest feeling you’ve been here before, but in another life. Others start mostly entirely anew. In the case of this show, that comparison could feel unfair to the new cast they’re going to roll out once they’ve hooked their old audience with the first episode. But it’s also entirely valid, given how much it is predicated on remembering the good old days; the ads, for instance, show only people who were on the original. In the commercials, the new designers are joked about as not being household names.


The home design show landscape has also settled into a comfortable rhythm since Trading Spaces was last on the air. Characters are known and loved, and people getting upset because of the outcome of their living spaces is not en vogue. Some of the highest-rated shows on HGTV include Fixer Upper, Property Brothers, and Flip or Flop—programs in which the drama comes from the ribbing between the ones making the houses look great, and from having to adapt to things not working out as they’ve planned, not in the homeowners being disappointed. The focus is on anyone being able to have their dream scenario, not on getting one’s hopes up, only to have them crushed. In this way, the new Trading Spaces—which airs the same night as reality design couple Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent’s Nate & Jeremiah By Design, a feel-good show at its best—seems perfectly suited to come back as a slightly tweaked version of its past selves, most of the sadness removed, all of the fun remaining.


In wondering how fair it was to compare this new version of Trading Spaces to the old, I decided to refresh my memory with some past episodes. Conveniently enough, to take advantage of the renewed interest in the show, TLC—which has not, to my knowledge, made consistent seasons of the series available to screen in the past—has put together a playlist of “favorite” episodes on its site. A viewing of a few that also feature Hildi and Doug (for accurate comparison’s sake) confirmed that things weren’t always so bright in Trading Spaces land as they seem to be today. Take an episode from Season 4 that, like the reboot’s premiere, takes place in Los Angeles. Two couples swap houses. One gets a room of entirely black; the other, after expressing a love for color, gets a room of entirely white. After the reveal, the couple with the white room hold each other crying as Davis says an optimistic goodbye to the audience. When she is done with her spiel, one of them stomps out of his now white room crying. “Get this mic off me,” he says, and the episode ends.

You can never go home again, they say. With Trading Spaces back, it seems that you can go home again, and it’ll feel even better than it did last time.