Dec 18, 2019

Best Makeover Shows in History

As long as we’ve had television, people have tuned in to see the trials and tribulations of celebrities. It wasn’t long before ordinary people started dreaming of their shot at stardom. As such, early shows like Queen for a Day were brought into existence so ordinary working people could see themselves on television. Now, our version of shows like Queen for a Day takes the form of physical and home makeover shows. Professional hosts take ordinary people’s problems, like bad makeup, weight gain, or an unsightly basement, and transform them in front of our eyes to something elegant and modern. If you want to be inspired by how we’ve come in the world of fashion and design, just take a look at some of the best makeover shows in history.


  • Queen for a Day was an American program that ran a remarkable five days a week for 12 years from 1945 to 1957.

    The most well-known host of the show was Jack Bailey. He would start off every program by introducing the guests of the day. Then, each guest would talk about the hardship and trials that she and her family were going through. Guests with sick children, out of work husbands, and personal crises all came on the show, in hopes that their situation would be declared the worst of the day.

    Whoever the studio audience thought was the most long-suffering woman was then declared “Queen for the Day” and showered with gifts.

  • Queer Eye for the Straight Guy premiered on Bravo in 2003. It was a home and personal life makeover show designed to showcase the talents of five gay designers and artists known as the “Fab Five”.

    The show was definitely built off stereotypes — the gay men as the fabulous, fashion-forward geniuses and the straight guy as the bumbling slob — but along the way, the producers managed to craft a show that was more nuanced than expected. In an age where marriage equality was still a dream in most of the United States, it’s believed that this show was able to help bridge the gap.  

  • The new Netflix show Queer Eye, which is a reboot of the original Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, premiered in February 2018. It quickly became a resounding success. The show managed to take the format of the original (five gay men making over a straight subject) and add in a nuanced understanding of how much the debate about gay rights has changed in the 15 years since the show first started airing.

    The updated show has made over a diverse range of subjects. Plus, it has shown incredible conversations about race, politics, gay marriage, transgender equality, and religion.

  • Like many popular American TV shows, Trading Spaces was actually inspired by a BBC show called Changing Rooms, which ran for eight seasons.

    The American Trading Spaces was produced by TLC and Discovery Home. Each episode followed two families as they traded houses and redecorated one room in the other family’s home. A host, designer, and carpenter were on hand to help the families realize their vision. However, there were definitely a few episodes where the room makeover wasn’t received with as much enthusiasm as the designers would have hoped.

    The show ran from 2000 to 2008 and inspired several spinoffs.

  • Like Trading Spaces, What Not to Wear was inspired by an earlier British show. It ran in the United States from 2003 to 2013.

    Hosted by Clinton Kelly and Stacy London, the show followed a different subject every episode, who was nominated by a friend to receive fashion help from Clinton and Stacy. A camera crew secretly followed the subject around for two weeks, then Clinton and Stacy would film an “intervention”. They offered the subject a $5,000 Visa gift card, on the condition that the subject turns their entire wardrobe over and agree to shop by the designers’ rules.

    A hairstylist and makeup artist completed the transformation before the subject was sent back home to show off their new look to family and friends.

  • Love, Lust or Run was where Stacy London went after her 10 years on What Not to Wear came to an end. Also on TLC, Love, Lust, or Run followed London as she made over people — primarily women — who were making questionable fashion choices in their everyday lives.

    It’s based on a British TV show called Snog, Marry, Avoid? which followed the hosts giving over-made-up British people “make-unders”. Love, Lust or Run ran for two full seasons before it was put on hold in 2016.

  • Starting in 1979, This Old House followed experts renovating a heritage home. This classic show has expert carpenters instruct homeowners on the finer points of home renovation over the course of the 13-episode initial series. Unlike many of the newer home makeover shows, This Old House followed a single home and family for the entire series, chronicling them as they made progress week by week.

    The show spun off into several other TV shows including Ask This Old House, where viewers could submit their home improvement questions to a panel of experts, and The New Yankee Workshop, a half-hour show about woodworking that ran from 1989 to 2009.

  • One of the most popular home makeover shows in the last decade is definitely Fixer Upper, which premiered on HGTV in 2013. Although it only ran for five seasons, it was a huge hit with home renovation fans, as well as people who just tuned in to see the adorable banter between husband-and-wife team Chip and Joanna Gaines. Chip served as the head contractor, while Joanne designed the space including the furnishings and accessories.

    Fixer Upper was able to stick to a lower budget because the team focused only on houses in a small, rural area of central Texas.

  • Extreme Weight Loss, which originally premiered under the name Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition, follows a different individual every episode who is struggling with their weight. The individual works with personal trainers Chris and Heidi Powell to change their physique.

    Extreme Weight Loss ran for five seasons. In that time, it profiled 55 individuals and couples struggling in their weight loss journey. Although it had high ratings, there were some controversies surrounding the show, including criticisms about the health implications of rapid weight loss.

  • Premiering in 1999, Grand Designs follows unusual and elaborate homebuilding projects Although this popular British TV show has spun off at least nine other shows, it still remains on the air today.

    Hosted by Kevin McCloud, Grand Designs has produced some very interesting designs, including a converted water tower and many sustainable energy homes. What all the designs have in common are their extravagance and unusual features.

    If you’re a fan of the show, you can head to the Grand Designs Live showcase, which takes place biannually in both London and Birmingham.

  • Million Dollar Decorators appeals to viewers who are interested in home improvement and home makeovers but aren’t satisfied with seeing other normal American’s homes redone. Instead, they want to see the newly blinged-out homes of celebrities who can afford the custom mods that most people can only dream about.

    Million Dollar Decorators follows four designers and decorators. Much of the appeal of the show comes from their interactions. Unfortunately, this show only ran for two seasons, premiering in 2011 and wrapping in 2013.

  • One of the most popular shows in the Kardashian canon is Revenge Body with Khloe Kardashian.

    This show has Khloe Kardashian and a team of experts help people change their lives for the better. At the end of the show, participants got the chance to show off their physical transformation to their families and friends.

    Although it was mildly popular when it aired, it’s unknown whether more episodes are coming.

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