When Denver real estate broker and restoration expert Rico León debuts his just-confirmed HGTV show in January 2023, he’ll not only help the network shift its programming focus on Saturday nights, but bring some much-needed diversity to the network, which has been under fire recently for its lack of Latino representation. Here’s what you need to know:
HGTV has announced that “Rico to the Rescue” will premiere on January 7, 2023, at 9 pm Eastern and Pacific. The network has ordered eight episodes for the show’s first season, which will follow León as he solves huge problems Colorado families are facing in their homes that are already under construction.
Inspired by his parents’ past experience with a “crooked contractor,” according to HGTV, León aims to be an advocate for families who desperately need someone with empathy and experience to swoop in and save the day.
In each episode, León and his team will analyze what’s gone wrong in current construction projects that are causing homeowners a great deal of stress. León, who owns Red Hawk Roofing in the Denver area, will come up with a renovation plan to “turn the construction nightmare into a dream home.”
HGTV says “Rico to the Rescue” will be part of a new primetime programming block on Saturday nights, specifically featuring shows that are dedicated to saving homeowners from bad renovations. In the December 13, 2022, announcement about the new show, the network did not announce which other series will air on Saturdays. In recent months, HGTV has just aired reruns of its most popular shows on Saturday nights; its website currently lists a marathon of “Love It or List It” reruns scheduled to air before and after “Rico to the Rescue” on its premiere night.
“I’m an advocate for homeowners dealing with a contractor crisis, because my own parents were taken advantage of during a renovation,” said León in a statement about the new show. “When I get a call for help, my goal is to resolve the conflict between the homeowner and the home builder and to go above and beyond to successfully complete the project.”
Rico León Will Become HGTV’s Only Latino Host
When “Rico to the Rescue” premieres, León will become HGTV’s only Latino host. In October 2022, the Latino Donor Collaborative (LDC), a nonprofit backed by some of the most prominent Latinx business leaders in the U.S., told Heavy that the network and its parent company, Warner Bros. Discovery, has had an “abysmal” track record when it comes to hiring Latinos for on- and off-camera roles — despite the fact approximately 20% of Americans are Hispanic.
The organization’s 2022 LDC Latinos in Media Report, examined primetime programming across all TV networks during the first eight months of the year. According to the LDC investigation, 37 primetime shows premiered or returned on HGTV between January 1 and August 31, 2022. That added up to 370 new TV episodes airing on the network during that time — more than any other traditional cable network — yet there were zero Latino on-air leads or co-leads and zero Latino showrunners or directors.
LDC president Ana Valdez told Heavy the lack of representation has been a missed opportunity for HGTV, noting that according to The Urban Institute, 70% of new homeowners will be Hispanic between 2020 and 2040.
“If Latinos are the largest cohort of new home buyers, they are the most natural cohort to watch a show on HGTV,” she said. “Why would programmers not include them and miss out on engaging them for their channels and advertisers?”
León’s LinkedIn profile says he’s a “Puerto Rican raised in Pittsburgh.” He has also been involved with Latinos Impacting Our Future Together in Denver, helping to launch their first all-male giving circle in 2019.
León began working with HGTV on his show in January 2021, and filmed the pilot that October. In an Instagram post on December 7, 2022, León shared a photo of him on a horse and said they’d just finished filming the final episode of the first season.
“Last episode of the season,” he wrote. “Rode off into the sunset. Thanks to my entire crew. They made it fun and my life easy. Figures crossed that season 2 happens!”