Ava DuVernay on ‘Home Sweet Home’: ‘It’s a show about respect’

EXCLUSIVE: The acclaimed director/showrunner/creator sat down with theGrio and chatted about her new NBC docuseries

Loading the player...

After creating a series like Queen Sugar and four-part series When They See Us, multi-hyphenate Ava DuVernay is dipping her toe into the televised unscripted territory, with a docu-series for NBC. In an exclusive interview, DuVernay sat down with theGrio and chatted all about Home Sweet Home and what sets this series apart from others in the format.

Variety's Power of Women Presented by Lifetime - Arrivals
Ava DuVernay attends Variety’s Power of Women Presented on Sep. 30, 2021 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Variety)

NBC’s Home Sweet Home is described as a cultural experiment. The official series description reads:

“Each episode of Home Sweet Home taps two families who lead very different lives for a life-changing experience through this full-immersion cultural experiment. The show chronicles the fierce curiosity and sense of adventure it takes to walk a mile in another person’s shoes by challenging racial, religious, economic, geographic, gender and identity assumptions as participants exchange homes for a week and experience the life of someone unlike them in intimate and dynamic ways.”

While many fans have been quick to point out the similarities of Home Sweet Home‘s premise to the popular series Wife Swap, series creator DuVernay tells theGrio that the comparisons are by design.

“We really wanted to use and take advantage of that premise that’s so familiar, so that people are entering into something that they expect to know and get something that is actually nourishing,” she explained. “It’s kind of like putting a protein bar in a Snickers wrapper.”

Duvernay said she based the series in curiosity, rather than conflict.

“Can we let [curiosity] be the intention? Can we replace conflict with curiosity, with two families who want to be there, want to have this social experience…what does that do to the form? That was the design of it.”

While the docuseries doesn’t have drama in the typical sense reality TV viewers have come accustomed to (chair throwing, arguments, etc.), the dramatic moments are grounded in “real” understanding born from two families connecting on a deeper level.

Home Sweet Home thegrio.com
(Credit: YouTube screenshot)

“The statistic that really got me is the idea that 76% of Americans have never been in a home outside of their dominant identity,” DuVernay explains. “I know that’s true because, you know, until I was in my mid-20s I’d never been in white people’s house. You know, for what reason? What reason would I have had in the way that I grew up that I would be invited in, that I would be comfortable being there, that I would have an occasion to be there and I know that’s true for white folk and Black folk.”

She added, “The goal of this is not kumbaya and hold hands. That’s absolutely not what I’m doing here. The goal of this is, respect me. This is how I live. I see how you live. I respect you. Now, I might not agree with you, your politics or whatever, but you have a family that you care about. I also have a family that I care about, and this is how we get down.”

Home Sweet Home premieres Friday, Oct. 15 on NBC.

Have you subscribed to theGrio’s podcast “Acting Up”? Download our newest episodes now!
TheGrio is now on Apple TV, Amazon Fire, and Roku. Download theGrio today!

Loading the player...