Saving the best for last: "Fixer Upper" family talks about final season
Tuesday marked the beginning of the end for “Fixer Upper,” HGTV’s highest-rated home renovation show filmed in Waco.
Chip and Joanna Gaines’ series has put Waco on the map since the first episode aired in May of 2013, but the couple recently announced the show would be ending so they could spend more time with their family.
However, their family has grown far beyond kin; their crew has become part of the couple's extended family, many even ended up settling down in Waco because of the show, like Executive Producer Michael Matsumoto.
“We have amazing friends, amazing family, and all of it's here now," said Matsumoto. "We're really happy to be here."
While the spotlight on Waco may dim a bit when the series ends in 2019, the show’s makers are promising the final season will shine brighter than ever before.
"I'm so excited, and I think this season is gonna be the best one yet,” said Matsumoto.
In an exclusive interview with KWTX, Matsumoto said this season they discovered more of Waco, expanded their limits and pushed the boundaries of what they can do and see.
"What I like most about this season is that there's a lot of projects that are really special and you can tell they're really close to Chip and Jo," said Matsumoto.
"A lot of really good 'feel good' episodes this season."
He said they saved the best season for last.
“Everyone should be excited for it, there's special guests, special episodes, twists and turns," said Matsumoso. "Probably the best season to produce so far."
Special guests including former First Lady Laura Bush and former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow.
"I think that's one of my favorite episodes to date so far," said Matsumoto of the upcoming episode with the athlete.
However, Matsumoto admitted his favorite episode of all-time was 'his;' the Los Angeles native was featured on the season four finale of "Fixer Upper" after deciding to move with his family to Crawford.
“I never thought I’d be a Texan, I never thought I’d be a Wacoan," said Matsumoto. "I don't think there's been a place that truthfully feels more like home for my family."
'His' episode became one of the most popular in the show's history, featuring a century-old shack turned into a four-bedroom beauty for his charming wife and (at the time) two children, and a surprise ending where they revealed to the Gaines' they had twins on the way.
"After two seasons we were like 'ya know what, it's time to settle in a little bit more,'" he said. "We've settled in pretty quickly here."
But some unsettling news came earlier this year.
About a year after moving into his new Magnolia home, the Gaines' announced publicly this would be their final season of "Fixer Upper," the show Matsumoto uprooted his family for.
He wasn't surprised by the decision, however, saying the crew had known it was in the works.
Not only that, while he was a little bummed the ride was over, he wasn't devastated, he understood, and was hopeful for what the future would bring.
"Chip and Jo are pulled in a million different directions with their magazine and their business and their family, and I think, ya know, it just got to a point where we need to kinda hit the reset button, let's see where the dust settles, regroup with the family, spend some quality time and enjoy what's important," said Matsumoto.
Family proved to be far more important to the Gaines' than industry acclaim, deciding to leave "Fixer Upper" even after the show received its first Emmy nomination this Fall.
"I think that's the million-dollar question is 'why,'" said Matsumoto when asked about the timing. "If you're at the peak of something, isn't that how you wanna go out?"
"You stop while you're on top."
The Matsumoto's and the rest of the "Fixer Upper" family, including the Gaines', their crew, clients, guest stars, employees, supporters and more, watched the first episode of the final season together on the big screen at Baylor's McLane Stadium, which Magnolia rented-out to celebrate Tuesday night.
While the show is leaving Waco, the Matsumoto's are staying put.
Since "Fixer Upper" finished filming Nov. 2, the producer has continued to work with the Gaines' and their company Magnolia, taking it one day at a time, trying to figure out what's next.
While his future remains undetermined, Matsumoto, and others, have given hints there's still more to come.
“Who knows what’s in the stars, but I know we’re hanging out in Waco," he said.
The fifth and final season of "Fixer Upper" airs Tuesdays at 8pm CST on HGTV.