HGTV Title Partnership Is Brand Slam For Zillow

A new HGTV show positions Zillow as an addictive browsing experience that is rewarding for both serious house hunters and online real-estate tourists.

The show -- “Zillow Gone Wild,” premiering May 3 -- takes its title from ZillowGoneWild, a social-media brand from the real-estate search site that boasts almost 2 million followers on Instagram, according to HGTV.

The ZillowGoneWild social brand and the show that has adopted its name are both “celebrations of America’s weirdest, wildest and wackiest homes for sale,” says HGTV. The homes on the show are all real listings on Zillow.

On each half-hour episode of “Zillow Gone Wild,” host Jack McBrayer (inset photo, above) takes viewers on tours of three unusual Zillow-listed homes.



The comic actor is a beaming, enthusiastic host as he meets the homeowners who then take him for a walkthrough of their unique homes, all of which were on the market when the shows were made.

The show is styled as a competition. All of the featured homes are vying to eventually be crowned the season’s “Wildest House.” 

Viewers who correctly guess the winner will have a chance to win $25,000 at the conclusion of the season on June 28.

Whether or not the homes showcased on “Zillow Gone Wild” are “weird, wild and wacky” is a matter of taste.

The three featured in Episode One (previewed by the TV Blog on Tuesday) varied widely. 

The first one is a decommissioned (and quite abandoned) United States missile silo accessible via an unassuming above-ground doorway in the middle of a vast field in York, Nebraska.

The current owner seems to be the facility’s second private owner. It is not this fellow’s primary residence, but he and some friends fixed up some living quarters inside of it, and sometimes use it to watch sports and play foosball.

The man bought it for $650,000 and now seeks to sell it for $750,000. My own opinion is that the place is a forlorn dump and anyone who would buy it ought to have their head examined.

As a home listing, the silo -- which once contained a 75-foot Atlas-F Intercontinental Ballistic Missile -- certainly qualifies as weird and wacky. 

As of the making of the show, this silo mancave remained unsold. Perhaps the United States government can buy it back for national defense.

The second house, nestled in the Hollywood Hills, is known locally as “The Snow White Cottage.” 

Built in 1938, its design and grounds were supposedly inspired by the animated “Snow White” movie released a year earlier.

Far from being weird and wacky, the house is a charmer. It even has an extra-short banister on an indoor staircase to accommodate dwarves.

But with only 1,026 square feet, two bedrooms and two baths, the house is too small even for seven dwarfs.

But on the show, the house looks homey and totally livable. At the end of the show, we learn that the house, originally on the market for $1.1 million, was sold in three months for $1.05 million.

The third house -- located on a desert property outside of Las Vegas, Nevada -- is a fascinating home in which every space inside and out is festooned and outfitted like art installations.

Nicknamed “The Motor Lodge,” the artist owner used pieces of old cars and other car-related artifacts all over the house for the purposes of lighting and decoration, including a kitchen backsplash of vintage license plates.

He even repurposed the cab of a 1927 Model T truck to house a flatscreen TV within the frame of its front windshield. The TV and the truck’s front end are part of his living room.

This house -- three beds, three baths, 3,038 square feet -- sold for close to its $2.5 million asking price, the show said.

Houses featured on future episodes include the flamboyant specimen pictured above, dubbed “The Saxophone House.” 

“Zillow Gone Wild” represents a very rare instance in TV’s modern era where a brand’s name is in the title of a prime-time TV show.

The show is an exuberant and fascinating half-hour that successfully connects the fun of watching these unusual house tours on TV with the prospect of having the same kind of experience swiping through Zillow’s vast house listings -- weird, wacky, wild or just plain normal.

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