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TV's Property Brothers Share Their Open Plan For Success In 'It Takes Two'

If you've never seen the Property Brothers on television, here's how their show works: Their names are Drew and Jonathan Scott, and they're twins. (Of course they're identical; like television cares about fraternal twins. Fraternal twins might as well be on the radio!) They show prospective housebuyers — invariably a romantic couple — some houses, and the couple picks one.

Let's say, for instance, it's a dump that smells like hamsters, which is called a "fixer-upper." Drew — the Suit-Wearing Brother — negotiates their real-estate deal, leaving plenty of money in the budget for new wiring and fixing the collapsing foundation and rodent relocation and so forth. Then Jonathan — the Plaid-Wearing Brother — renovates the house so it's no longer a dump that smells like hamsters. Then the brothers put some fruit in the kitchen in glass pitchers, the people come back in, they cry with happiness, and all is well.

The Property Brothers have now branched out — they have a couple other shows, they make home decor and they've got a new business designing luxury houses in Las Vegas. They have, as you might say, hustle. In their new memoir, It Takes Two (also the name of an Olsen Twins movie, so), you'll learn that one of the Property Brothers — Jonathan, the renovator — used to be a magician, and the other one — Drew, the real estate broker — was an actor. They did know how to build and sell houses, because they'd started doing flips when they were in college, to support themselves while they tried to get into show business. In other words, they were performers who used home renovation to get on TV, not home renovators who were discovered at the lumber yard like Lana Turner at the soda fountain.

I should stress: They are open about this. There is no Property Brothers mythos in which they were just regular guys fixing up houses when suddenly somebody said, "You know, you're a couple of identical hams with good hair; have you ever thought about TV?"

Their memoir is a story of their hustle. In fact, not since Saturday Night Fever have you seen such hustle. Consider this: They started a business selling wire coat hangers wrapped in decorative ribbon when they were seven so they could save up their money to start a sword collection. As kids, they played the bagpipes, learned karate, and were tween clowns for hire.

I repeat: They were tween clowns for hire.

They're dunking on each other, but with Nerf balls. And a plastic hoop. At eye level.

There is not much to the writing of their memoir. They trade chapters about being competitive, getting into TV, their love lives, the things they believe about the wider world and the way they feel about internet haters. (Yes, they have them.) Their painfully corny asides scribbled on each other's chapters are meant to evoke their playful "you're the dumb one"/"no YOU'RE the dumb one" chemistry, which you know if you've ever seen them on television. They're dunking on each other, but with Nerf balls. And a plastic hoop. At eye level. You could squint and consider it the inoffensiveness of Canadians, but really, it's the inoffensiveness of people involved in this corner of reality television: the corner where everything goes from ugly to beautiful.

The Scott twins may not be great writers, but they are an example of a very real phenomenon: guys who are born lucky (mom and dad gave them a lot of opportunities; dad was in show business; they were good-looking twins) where you get the feeling something was always going to break well for them, in part because of all those advantages, but also because they were going to keep trying things until it did. Had their home reno show not worked out, they would have moved on to clown magic, or invented talking hangers, or built a shirtless laundry service called Spins By Twins. They might have been hair models or wrench demonstrators or nude models who do windows, but whatever it turned out to be, something was always going to burst open, because a thing that seemed perfectly normal to them as children was to start collecting real swords.

Their lives could have worked out very differently if there were more bagpiping on reality television.

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Linda Holmes
Linda Holmes is a pop culture correspondent for NPR and the host of Pop Culture Happy Hour. She began her professional life as an attorney. In time, however, her affection for writing, popular culture, and the online universe eclipsed her legal ambitions. She shoved her law degree in the back of the closet, gave its living room space to DVD sets of The Wire, and never looked back.