Gentrification Entertainment – Good Bones
Current Events,  Entertainment

Gentrification Entertainment – Good Bones

The husband and I are suckers for a home improvement show.  We don’t have HGTV at home so when we go on vacation somewhere with a TV we have a tendency to binge-watch and get notions in our heads.  This is dangerous.  Recently he realized that we can watch HGTV shows on Hulu.  This is bad.  We started with a show called Good Bones.

The premise is cute.  A mother and daughter team in Indianapolis buys run down properties and renovates them.  They are cute and quirky and have a strange extended family helping them.  They do really good work.  But there is a problem with the show.  The whole idea is gentrification although they never say the word.

They are focusing on a few neighborhoods in the city.  They use a lot of code words.  The neighborhoods are “up and coming” or “transitional”.  People are just “finding out about the area.”  Let me translate.  These are low income, predominately black neighborhoods that didn’t have a lot of investment where white people can swoop in and buy investment properties.

From Wikipedia – “The neighborhood has seen a significant amount of renovation and house-flipping since 2010. Several of the house renovations have been aired on the Good Bones television show. In 2018, the median price of the 149 homes sold was $189,900, ranging from $41,000 for a “fixer-upper” to $409,000 for a completely renovated one. Median household income in 2016 was $24,748, lower than the $43,369 for all of Marion County, but up from 2015, when it was only $19,567.[7]

I can see both sides of this debate. I like to see homes fixed up nice and used again instead of continuous sprawl out from city centers.  These are mostly abandoned houses on the show.  If no one is keeping them up, then why wouldn’t you let people who want to invest in them buy them?  On the other hand, these are probably neighborhoods that were redlined.  On one episode they even say that east of one particular street, investors won’t go.  They say that in another area people will have a hard time getting a mortgage.  That was in a conversation with other realtors.  One says that all it would take is a cute cafe opening and then people would come there.  Guess what?  There are already people there.  It is like the Europeans saying that North America didn’t have any people until they showed up.  There are plenty of people already there.  There just aren’t white people with disposable incomes, good credit, and the ability to get mortgages already there.  The other realtors’ recommendation was to buy more houses in the area and redo them so people will want to move in when they see the neighborhood is “getting better.”  

It might even be ok if they were renovating houses for people who live in the neighborhoods.  But they constantly talk about “bringing new people” into the neighborhoods.  We know what that means.  Every potential buyer they show are 20/30-something white people who don’t live nearby.  

This is probably the case with a lot of other shows of this type so I’m not sure if this is just more blatant than others or I’m just more aware.  I may be part of the problem myself.  I own a rental property in a low-income area that we bought because the price was much lower than houses in our neighborhood.  We fixed it up.  It isn’t as fancy as they do but it is a house that won’t be owned by a person from that neighborhood because more economically privileged people were able to scoop it up.  Now, we are renting to someone who values that neighborhood but isn’t interested in home ownership at this time so maybe that’s a half point back for us?  I don’t know.

For now we are still watching the show.  We tend to yell, “Gentrifier!” at the TV whenever they say something egregious in the same tone as Shuri yelling, “Colonizer” in Black Panther.  We try to spot anyone who isn’t white who shows up in the show.  Spoiler – there have been a few men on the demo crew and one woman who served them coffee in the season and a half we’ve watched so far.  

What do you think?  Is gentrification good, bad, a necessary evil, or something else? 

22 Comments

  • Nicky

    I use to watch this show and others like it often until I started to wonder where they were buying these properties for $30 to $50 thousand. When I realized that this was in poor black and white neighbourhoods, I began to wonder why they were renovating it for such a high price; buy for $30 thousand and sell for $200 thousand ( talk about gouging). Why not build it so that the people have a chance of owning a nice home and pull themselves out of poverty. Stop using marble this and granite that and make it affordable!
    Then I just stopped watching in protest, but now I wonder is ignoring the racism (intended or not) the solution? Do they understand about redlining and what’s with the coded language? I know everyone loves to see a pretty house but how about building a community of not just privileged white people, but one with a great MIX of people. How are we suppose to learn about each other if we live on two different sides of the street. I still scowl when I’m flipping through the channels and see shows like fixer upper, good bones, flip or flop, masters of flip (big time gougers) and hometown (a town that’s 60% black but you never see them when they take you on a tour of the town). I’m not giving those shows my tv dollars or time and maybe they’ll just go away or do better. I’m hoping for do better because I do love a good renovation.
    Just my opinion and you asked!

  • James

    I honestly wonder how many people were forced to sell their houses for dirt cheap prices to companies like 2 chicks and a hammer, because they couldn’t afford to pay the increased property tax brought on by the gentrification.

  • A

    This article and the comments let me know I’m not the only one. Have been watching this show for the last months or so. I heard the coded language and noted the types of people that were always showed the homes so finally just decided to google to see if it was just me that peeped. Glad to see it wasn’t just all in my head. I’m not familiar with the area at all but the way they speak makes it seem obvious as to what is happening. Same thing happening in so many other parts of the country.

    Same as you I see the sides to the issue. When it’s being done by people that use this kind of language it somehow makes it an extra bit harder to stomach for me. Is it ignorance, intentional, just a lack of care…idk. Surprised it hasn’t come up more before (unless
    I’m just new to watching the show and it has come up before).

  • PineandDime

    I am also a long time Indianapolis resident – while I am admittedly, a young white woman looking to buy her first home in Indianapolis, I frankly cannot STAND the language that these two women use in this show. They repeatedly insult the existing neighborhoods and neighbors with innuendo about the “quality” of certain streets or areas. I am working my way through the 2 seasons on Hulu and have yet to see a single BIPOC appear on screen alongside them on the job or their client list – though I can say from living in the community that I see the homes they work on and most of it appears to be BIPOC labor, many of whom were working straight through the pandemic, no masks or social distancing to be seen.

    I also recently heard the mother being interviewed on our local NPR station and her direct quote was “wouldn’t you rather see one of our nice houses on your block instead of a crack house?”. Maybe one of them ought to pick up a book, or even Google “Racial Discrimination” or “Crack epidemic of the 80s” just to see what pops up… The daughter is a real estate agent who either doesn’t know, or more likely just doesn’t care about the discriminatory practices by real estate agents from the time of the crack epidemic leading up to present day in this country. Clearly these two are so immersed in their white privilege, they don’t even have the tact to mediate their language when using these platforms for their shameless self-promotion. I’ve seen them say “we don’t consider ourselves house flippers – we revitalize neighborhoods” alongside this little gem of a quote “We won’t stop until our whole neighborhood is filled with ‘people we want to live by'”. I think we all know what they mean by that…

    I’m so appalled that more people in the Indianapolis community are not incensed by the lexicon of this mother daughter team, let alone their plight to continue the long established trend of redlining and gentrifying.

  • peppurthehotone

    I Googled and found you as well! I love this show and soooo tired, annoyed, saddened that I can’t remember one black person, couple or brown person who was shown or bought a home. Not cool. My family is from Indy and I KNOW there are a lot of “people who would want to take care of the neighborhood” (said on the show) who are not white that would want to and could afford to live in these “new, fabulous” neighborhoods. I appreciate that Mina and her mom seem to be doing this because they care about Indianapolis, but not being inclusive, at least for camera, really sucks. It is disheartening.

  • andreabg

    Another person who got here from googling, same thoughts, same questions. I’m on season 2 on Hulu.

    I mean, on the one hand, they are buying properties nobody wants, properties that are often close to ruble. They are restoring original property, not demolishing the structures and putting up shoddy new construction – which would be easier and probably less risky and more profitable. These are good things!

    On the other hand, everything you said.

    I would like to hear from long time residents and find out what they think.

    • PineandDime

      Please see my most recent comment. As a resident of Indy about to buy my first home, I realize I benefit from their work – That being said, their language and their willful ignorance about gentrification is disgusting. The sort of properties I can afford are more like the homes they call “crack houses” or any other slur they use to insult existing neighbors and neighborhoods.

  • Audibean

    I used to live in one of the neighborhoods that they are doing these houses in and they for sure are pushing out long time residents by raising property taxes because the renovations they do make them $500k homes. BUT this was not a predominantly Black neighborhood (the Black neighboorhood is east of a certain street they felt they couldn’t sell a house near). It was poor white people, and I think this is why they feel they can get away with not mentioning gentrification during this whole process.

    You guys are close, but it’s not racsim.. it’s just good old fashioned elitist shit. Also I got wine drunk one night and actually commented about this on the Tad guys Instagram and his realtor girlfriend was the one who responded and wanted to work with me to understand how the team could have raised my property value and how I can sell my home. GTFO.

    • PineandDime

      Yeah but now they have moved their efforts further east of downtown – definitely NOT just poor white folk being impacted anymore.

  • hikatie

    Like everyone else, I ended up here by googling when I had this in mind, too. The episode that really pushed me over the edge this season was the one where they were renovating a house that Mina & her husband had apparently bought as a rental property several years before – and it looked like absolute shit. It absolutely gave off the idea that they were happy to be slumlords when they were renting, but knew that wouldn’t cut it when it came time to sell.

  • Jordan

    Yep, came here because the last episode I watched, the mom said (of the awful green they were painting the house) “we want to attract the type of person who would like to live in a green house” wtf does that even mean except that you can charge a ton for it and you are actively gentrifying. It bothers me.

  • battyjenn

    I was googling this to find out if anyone else was thinking the same thing about this show. The thing that I find while watching is that there is never (or rarely) any people of color who they bring through to tour the homes. So, they’re “building to put life back into neighborhoods” but none of the residents in the neighborhoods are buying these properties.
    It’s a double edged sword because these homes stand vacant for years and bring the value in the neighborhoods down, but I wish that they would price them so that the neighborhood could “reabsorb” these homes. I’m glad to see that there are people who are thinking the same as I am.

    • heather

      Yes, do some renovations at a lower cost. I didn’t pay as much for my house in a fairly fancy neighborhood as they are selling these houses for. (Granted, we bought from an estate during a market crash but still.) Swap out marble counter tops for some decent lower price stuff and make a home that costs less than $250,000.

  • Mae Sander

    This is a very thoughtful and clarifying discussion of an important issue — racism. I don’t watch home improvement shows as I have lived in the same house for many years, and don’t do-it-myself, and my neighborhood has been very stable since the 19th century because it’s near a major university which means it was built for professionals and stayed that way. Nothing to be proud of, just the way it is. Maybe something to think about more than we do.

    But you make me realize what a usually praised activity — fixing fixer-ups — really means. I wouldn’t expect a TV show like that to show any social awareness or sense of responsibility to anyone, and your observations make it clear that they don’t! All that coded racism is now being called out, and you’ve found another focus for illustrating it. The “cute cafe” line is really something, isn’t it?

    be well… mae at maefood.blogspot.com

    • Natascia Pica

      I initially loved this show, then realized what was happening because of all of the coded language and the discussion of “up and coming” neighborhoods and “frontier” neighborhoods. It’s revolting once you realize it. I can’t even stomach this show anymore. I even went to their website to write to them, but haven’t decided what to say yet because they’re clearly completely clueless about racism, so it would be starting from square one. Does anyone else want to hold them accountable too??

      • PineandDime

        YES ABSOLUTELY! I am from their neighborhood and their language is absolutely appalling and shameless!! Should have heard them on NPR – called these properties “crack houses” – They are disgusting.

What Do You Think?

%d bloggers like this: