"The story of Waco is the story of how a city can break your heart." And from David Koresh and the Branch Davidians to biker shootouts and sex assault scandals at Baylor, Waco's heart has been broken again and again. But Taffy Brodesser-Akner, writing at Texas Monthly, is more interested in the story of how a hometown boy, and his girl, made the hometown good. She profiles Chip and Joanna Gaines, who met in a tire store in Waco, fell in love, got married, and started innocently flipping houses—she the decorating brains, he the demo-ing brawn in a town awash in decrepit homes. They might have faded quietly into the Texas sunset, had HGTV not taken notice. "I think it is their perfect imperfections," says an HGTV exec. "They are the best of what's real in life." And when the Gaineses' HGTV show, Fixer Upper, debuted, millions of people took notice.
"But," writes Brodesser-Akner, "a funny thing happened along the way to success." Success happened to Waco, as well. As surely as the Gaineses renovated house after house, Waco found its redemption. Tourism skyrocketed. Cottage industries sprang up. Silos that sat long dormant downtown went from blight to landmark when the Gaineses made a bid on them a few years ago. A Waco tourism official recounts the debate about how to fix those silos up: "And Joanna said, 'Well, but wait a minute. They're beautiful the way they are.' And now they look beautiful to me." She continues: "I've thought a lot about it. I think that's what Joanna does. She makes things wanted that were once unwanted." The HGTV exec admits that while Waco wasn't the most likely backdrop for the show, "Now when I say 'Waco,' I don't even think about Branch Davidians or some of the other bad things that have happened there. I just think Chip and Jo." Read the whole fascinating piece here. (Read more Waco, Texas stories.)