Well, this is awkward.
“Flip or Flop” is back for its seventh season Thursday on HGTV — filmed just after stars Christina and Tarek El Moussa separated amidst blaring tabloid headlines. (They’re now divorced.)
“We’ve been shooting together since the day we separated. We never stopped,” says Tarek, 36. “It’s like anything. Let’s be honest — you’re with someone for that long, you film a show and then you separate and have to put your shoes and pants on the next day and go and film. It’s one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do. Even today it’s not the easiest thing in the world.”
The El Moussas were a hit when “Flip or Flop” premiered in 2013 (the show features them refurbishing and flipping houses in Southern California). Viewers were riveted by their personal drama: Tarek was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2013 (a “Flip or Flop” viewer noticed a lump on his neck); Christina underwent much-publicized fertility treatments (son Brayden joined big sister Taylor in 2015). Tarek (privately) battled testicular cancer and suffered an agonizing back injury that left him bedridden and taking lots of pain meds.
It took its toll. The couple separated in 2016 following an incident in which Tarek bolted from their house with a gun following an argument (he said he’d gone for a hike and took the gun to protect himself from wild animals). They were officially divorced in January.
‘We can’t change what happened to us but we can continue moving forward and becoming better and handling it.’
“Both of us had the option of moving forward or not, and so did the network,” says Christina, 34, of Season 7. “It was all a joint decision; it’s something we wanted to do and we’re glad we did it.
“It definitely has its awkward moments, as you could imagine,” she says. “We were going through a divorce that, for a lot of people, is a private affair and ours was very public. So, yeah, there were some stressful times. At the end of the day we met as business partners and we have two amazing kids together so we just decided it was best to continue to work together [on the show]. We went through a lot of stressers when we were married and we maintained filming during all of that. I honestly felt that by going to work, we both enjoy it so much [that] it was almost a stress-reliever. To just be in the zone and have these crazy projects to fix up — it felt kind of therapeutic, actually.”
“You know, you get those thoughts every now and then,” Tareq says of trying to retain his focus on the show. “We try to be as cordial as possible. We don’t hate each other — we have kids together and we try to respect each other.
“At the same time there’s going to be hiccups. A divorced couple filming a TV show? It’s impossible not to face some challenges,” he says. “You have good days, bad days, ups and downs, so you just deal with it — it’s part of life. We can’t change what happened to us but we can continue moving forward and becoming better and handling it.”
And, Christina says, “Flip or Flop” won’t sugarcoat the pair’s behind-the-scenes drama. “HGTV has never really gone into this space of incorporating real-life stuff — it’s mostly just focused on ‘Buy a house, fix it and sell it,’ ” she says. “This will be different to what viewers are used to on the network — we’re incorporating a little bit more of real life and the actual situations we’ve gone through.”
“We don’t get into crazy fights or anything, but every now and then we do get into disagreements and don’t see eye to eye,” Tarek says of their on-camera relationship. “And the dynamics are obviously a little bit different.”
“Flip or Flop” Season premiere 9 p.m. Thursday on HGTV
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