HGTV Couples With The Worst On-Screen Chemistry

It's not easy living and working together at the best of times. But imagine doing so when cameras follow you around practically 24-7. Plenty of reality stars do it, though, with decidedly mixed results. For example, some of the HGTV stars' marriages are so strange that they're cringe-worthy, so weird, in fact, it makes you wonder if they're heading for the divorce court, or at the very least, if they're actually real partners in real life.

HGTV (full name Home & Garden Television) has a seemingly never-ending roster of renovation, fixer-upper, and home decor shows on its schedule. Cheery and perky hosts work their magic to transform sometimes decrepit, sometimes hideous, and sometimes just blah, OK houses into uniform, tastefully contrasted or pastel-colored, heavily accessorized, and totally over-cushioned, cookie-cutter show homes. It's all so genial and family-friendly.

However, when you look at some of HGTV's biggest scandals ever – including lawsuits, allegations of racism and homophobia, messy breakups, divorce battles, and crazy bar brawls — the channel doesn't appear to be quite so wholesome. And you can understand why some insist HGTV shows are totally fake. Plus, many seemingly happy host couples are not as simpatico off-camera as we're led to believe. But then many viewers can usually sense the tensions while watching. However, in case fans are missing (or missed) the signs of trouble and strife, we're giving a rundown of the HGTV couples with the worst on-screen chemistry from the past and present day.

Windy City Rehab's Alison Victoria and Donovan Eckhardt

HGTV couple Alison Victoria and Donovan Eckhardt starred in "Windy City Rehab." They were platonic friends but close business partners. When the series launched in 2019, it was a smash hit. According to Discovery Press, "Windy City Rehab" was its highest-rated show for those aged 25 to 34, pulling in over 9.3 million viewers during its first season.

The twosome made a great partnership: Victoria hunted down and oversaw the decoration of decrepit Chicago houses while Eckhardt performed all the heavy lifting — well, the demolishing and rebuilding. However, things turned sour as their onscreen chemistry dissolved before viewers' eyes and they soon became one of the most toxic HGTV couples.

It all kicked off in July 2019 when the Chicago Sun-Times revealed that the Department of Buildings had notified Eckhardt that it was suspending his real estate developer and general contractor's license. House Beautiful reported that after being hit by a series of lawsuits from disgruntled clients, Victoria severed her partnership with Eckhardt and filed suit, accusing him of ruining her reputation and transferring funds from their joint account to his own business, resulting in her having to shell out over $700,000 to finish construction projects. Meanwhile, Eckhardt slapped the show's producers with a $2 million defamation lawsuit, claiming they painted him as "the villain and cause" of their multiple lawsuits and Victoria "as the unknowing, innocent victim of all of the issues," according to People. Eckhardt's lawsuit was dismissed in April 2022.

Fixer to Fabulous' Jenny and Dave Marrs

Viewers seem to not be able to get enough of HGTV couple Jenny and Dave Marrs and their show "Fixer to Fabulous." The husband-and-wife team focuses on renovating dilapidated properties in their hometown of Bentonville, Arkansas, where they live with their five kids and a considerable collection of assorted farm animals. The show has been a huge ratings draw for HGTV. Season 5 pulled in an impressive 28.3 million viewers, resulting in the launch of a spin-off show, "Fixer to Fabulous: Italy."

"Dave and Jenny's loyal fan base comes back season after season for their incredible Bentonville overhauls," Loren Ruch, Head of Content for HGTV, told Discovery. "We can't wait to showcase the Marrs as their fans have never seen them before, completely out of their element for a remarkable renovation set in the stunning Tuscan countryside."

However, for all the lovers, there are the haters, all of whom seriously question the seemingly perfect pair's onscreen chemistry and even the strength of the Marrs' marriage. "I cannot stand Jenny Marrs. I feel [like] she is so fake for tv. I also think she puts down her husband all the time," a detractor posted on Reddit. "Yeah, I agree she grinds my gears, and their fake wholesome family bs seems so incredibly put on and forced," another wrote. "If you actually observe the kids in many of those scenes, they look sad and uncomfortable."

Good Bones' Mina Starsiak Hawk and Karen Laine

HGTV's "Good Bones" mom-and-daughter duo Mina Starsiak Hawk and Karen Laine renovated dilapidated homes in Indianapolis. They appeared to have the perfect working and familial relationship. However, viewers could see cracks in their supposed close connection widening during the show until it finished at the end of Season 8. In fact, Hawk and Laine were members of the club of HGTV couples with the worst on-screen chemistry. It turned out they were one of the couples with the worst off-screen relationships, too.

"There's interpersonal family dynamics that people don't see," Hawk told People in October 2023. "There were definitely some challenging [moments] because my mom and I were in some of the most challenging places I felt we've been." The tensions during the show became more evident over time. Hawk and Laine butted heads and bickered over seemingly non-issues. But their rocky relationship dated way back to before the cameras started rolling.

In an episode of her podcast, "Mina AF," Hawk pinpointed the source of their angst to her parents divorcing when she was three. Hawk was forced to yo-yo between her mom and dad's homes and claimed to have had a hard time with her mother. "There was a lot of like punishments that were like, now that I am a mom, just are insane to me. Some physical, some more like mental, emotional." Hawk is currently estranged from her mom and several of her siblings.

Flip or Flop's Tarek El Moussa and Christina Hall

Tarek El Moussa and then-wife Christina El Moussa, now Christina Hall, starred in HGTV's hit "Flip or Flop." The show documented the couple bidding at auctions to buy derelict houses, then renovating and flipping them for profit, or not as the case may be. There can be a host of nasty and unexpected costs that suddenly surface once reconstruction starts — a situation that causes a lot of stress, especially if you live and work together 24-7. The stress and strife certainly got the better of Tarek and Christina over time, contributing to the deterioration of their marriage.

The gradual demise of their relationship played out on TV from when "Flip or Flop" premiered in 2013 until they announced they were splitting in December 2016. It was a bitter and contentious breakup, but they continued filming the HGTV series until 2022. The onscreen chemistry was far from good during those last painful years. Still, they struggled through it. "It's crazy to think 12 years later, it's coming to an end. I've spent almost a third of my life committed to this show," Tarek posted on Instagram in March 2022. "A special thank you to @christinahaack for taking this journey with me. I think we did a pretty good job and I'm excited for what the future holds for both us and wish her nothing but the best!" he continued. Both Tarek and Christina have since remarried.

Flip or Flop Nashville's Page Turner and DeRon Jenkins

HGTV couple Page Turner and DeRon Jenkins were always going to have a different kind of on-screen chemistry, given the fact they were actually an ex-couple. And it was pretty evident, pretty early on, why they were no longer a couple. Despite their success at flipping homes in The Music City, their on-screen chemistry was left decidedly lacking. Of course, the fact the two were exes added an extra dynamic and a smidge of on-camera tension, bickering, and drama.

Still, Turner and Jenkins managed to remain friendly enough to go into business together (or to star in a HGTV show together). They both claimed that their break-up was purportedly amicable. "We dated for a long time, but we still remained friends," Turner told US Weekly. "So that's, I think, the big difference. We didn't have this huge blow-up where we just stopped speaking and all that drama. We still work together well and make money. [We said], 'Let's do that.'"

However, working relationship aside, they've both made it pretty clear that a romantic reunion is not in the cards at any point in the future. "I think we're in such a great place right now. We work really well together," Turner replied diplomatically when asked about a possible sexual spark reigniting.