A New Jersey couple with a $450,000 budget wants to start a bed-and-breakfast in Mérida.
That’s the plot line of the latest “House Hunters International” episode set in Mérida, its first in five years.
Online, HGTV sets up the familiar plot: The husband wants a turnkey property, but the wife would prefer a renovation project.
The episode is titled “Renovation Debate in Mérida, Mexico,” and it’s airing in the U.S. at 10 p.m. EDT Thursday, May 25 and 1:30 a.m. EDT Friday, May 26.
How many times has the long-running cable show “House Hunters International” set up its cameras in Mérida?
Mérida is possibly HHI’s most-visited city in the world, in the off-the-beaten-track category. So that’s not counting world capitals such as Paris and London.
In the last 10 years, we have met Malaya and Grace, Erich and Rob (twice, if you count the “where are they now” episode), Allison and Todd, Betty and Karen, Karen and Greg and Frank and Dan. We also met Paula, Keith, Eric, Arturo and Carol — real estate agents who presented three competing homes.
But we haven’t seen a full Mérida episode since the three that aired in 2012, the year the House Hunters franchise doubled the number of episodes it produces. A couple have remained in our DVR ever since; we can’t bear to delete them.
For many U.S. and Canadian viewers, the show was their introduction to Mérida. Playa del Carmen or Puerto Vallarta are brand-name destinations, but the colonial cities are a little more of a mystery to foreigners.
In truth, the show is more of a reenactment than an honest peek at the home buying process. Buyers agree to be filmed only after they have actually purchased a property. Then, they traipse through three properties, choosing one — often over cocktails or a romantic stroll — at the end of each episode.
A suburbs-vs.-city or turnkey-vs.-fixer plot is contrived. Often, they are depicted on television admiring a home that they had actually renovated themselves.
All that was brought out in 2012, when the Internet nearly broke with stories about the House Hunters formula.
But this doesn’t bother viewers.
The entire House Hunters franchise “remains one of the most unlikely and unstoppable juggernauts on TV,” writes the Washington Post.
The show and its spinoffs in 2015 aired 447 new episodes — far more than the typical 12-to-22-episode cable season — takes work.
For the “International” spinoff alone, 25 teams of directors, camera chiefs, sound technicians and local fixers span the world.
The formula attracts 25 million viewers a month for the franchise, which also includes “Tiny House Hunters” and “House Hunters Off the Grid.”
Featured participants also sign a strict contract with Leopard USA, the show’s production company. The document keeps them mum about the show until it airs.