When Chip and Joanna Gaines previewed their new TV network in April, I thought 2020 was saved.
The husband-wife duo from the HGTV show “Fixer Upper” hasn’t slowed down since starting in 2013. They’ve flipped hundreds of houses, built the Silos and several stores and restaurants, started a magazine, and revived their hometown of Waco, Texas with all of their endeavors.
“As I watched the business evolution occur with the magazine, it became pretty clear to me that we could translate this to a 24-hour cable network,” Chip said in their network announcement video. “When we see these stories, we’re like, ‘This is gonna work.’”
Michigan was still under quarantine when the four-hour preview of the Magnolia Network premiered. I finally had something other than a Zoom class to put on my calendar — and it did not disappoint. The preview included sneak peaks of some of the new shows that would be introduced to television in October. Though the network’s new launch date is scheduled for July 15, the pilot episodes of the show launched on the Discovery Plus app on Jan. 4.
The Magnolia Network is their company’s latest project, and this time they’re bringing more than a dozen small business owners from across the country along with them with the goal of telling their stories.
“There are so many people out there that have these stories that need to be told,” Joanna said in their network announcement video. “When you come to this channel, you leave going, “I wanna go do something. I’m inspired to go risk, I’m inspired to go do something I’m passionate about.’”
The Magnolia Network captures the stories of ordinary people doing unique, fun, and meaningful things. From the college dropout who started a restaurant that now has a waitlist with thousands of names, to the retired college football player who trains and inspires other people in his own gym, these people are chasing the American Dream and proving it’s still possible.
Since then, I’ve been making my way through all of these episodes, and each time I finish one, I realized Joanna was right. I was so inspired by the stories they tell.
So far I’ve made my way through “The Lost Kitchen,” “Restoration Road,” “The Fieldhouse,” and “Super Dad.”
I love that these shows include people from all over the country. Each of these four episodes tell stories from different people in different states: Maine, Idaho, Texas, and Colorado. They include every little corner of America, showcasing what makes our country so great as a whole.
These shows are entertaining, funny, and in-depth. You get to really know the people as people, not just what they do — you’ll learn about their families, their pasts, and their future goals. Tyler Calmus is incredibly creative, Erin French is a tough and resilient Mainer, Justin Bane is a big man with an even bigger heart, Clint Harp is eager to learn and teach about the history he discovers, and Chip and Joanna’s relationship is still as adorable as ever.
“The Lost Kitchen” is about Erin French and her restaurant, The Lost Kitchen, in Freedom, Maine. Her kitchen is staffed with all women and it is only open from May to October. The best part: reservations are available only by post card. Each April, French “opens” for reservations, which means people can send in a postcard that tells their story of why they want to dine at The Lost Kitchen. Then in May, French and her team sort through the requests and pick who will be their guests that summer.
The Lost Kitchen is in an old barn restored next to a waterfall. It’s secluded, homey, and a dream destination for the thousands of people who mail in their postcards each year. Beyond the restaurant, the show tells the story of French’s resilience. After dropping out of college, she began hosting dinner parties from her Airstream as a single mom, and later went on to open her own restaurant.
Her story is incredible, as is the way she incorporates her local farmers into the food she prepares. Through her, you’ll catch a glimpse of her genuine desire to serve more than just delicious food — you’ll see how she serves everyone in her community as well.
In the age of female empowerment and toxic masculinity, “Super Dad” is just the show we need. Taylor Calmus is an ordinary dad to two kids and one on the way, and he’s made a career of DIY projects for his children. Now he’s helping other dads do the same. In the episode I watched, Calmus helped a single dad build an incredible playground with a skatepark in his backyard for his kids.
He’s a great example of a present father who loves his kids and does things to surprise them. He also uses just about every power tool imaginable to create some amazing things.
“I’m stepping out of my own backyard to help other dads bring their kids’ dreams to life and become their heroes along the way,” Calmus said in the show preview. “Any dad can go out and buy something, but to actually put in the time and effort to make something really special, that’s next level. That’s a super dad.”
These are only a few of their featurettes on others, and there are also three shows featuring Chip and Joanna themselves: “Fixer Upper Welcome Home,” Joanna’s cooking show “Magnolia Table,” and “The Courage To Run” about Chip’s first marathon race inspired by Gabe Grunewald.
“Fixer Upper Welcome Home” is just like the original show, but instead of meeting clients in her front yard, Joanna brings them to her beautifully designed office with fancy color samples and tile squares. The way they’ve maintained their show is a testament to Chip and Joanna’s down to earth nature and humble character.
Watching Joanna cook in the kitchen in her new show made me feel like even I could cook, and that is really saying something. She “guesstimates” sizes and amounts, spills things, and even has trouble using her mixer, but at the end of the show she puts together a beautiful meal that she shares with her family. She’ll make you hungry and make you laugh all at the same time.
And in “The Courage to Run,” Chip tells the story of how he found joy and purpose in running — the very thing he thought he’d never be able to do. He also tells the story of Gabe Grunewald, a professional runner who died of cancer nearly a year after coaching Chip through his first marathon.
The show takes viewers through their serendipitous meeting in Central Park to Grunewald traveling to Waco, Texas, to cheer Chip on through his race. This wasn’t an ordinary race — Chip and Joanna hosted it in their hometown to raise money for Grunewald’s “Brave Like Gabe Foundation.” It is simultaneously the sweetest, saddest, and most inspiring story I’ve heard in the world of running.
Next on my list to watch is “Home on the Road,” the story of Abner Ramirez and his wife Amanda as they take their band, Johnnyswim, and their young family on a three-month journey across the country.
After watching any of these shows, my mind started racing with ideas. Hearing these stories of risk, failure, and eventually success encouraged me to believe I can chase my own dreams too. These people are so real, so genuine, and just love what they do. They’ve turned their passions into careers, and they’ll inspire you to do the same.