100 families in the tiny Fraser Valley town of Aldergrove are about to have their financial acumen put to the test in the reality television series Million Dollar Neighbourhood, set to begin airing on the Oprah Winfrey Network (Canada) on Sunday, January 22, 2012. Among the families featured in the weekly series is same-sex married couple Kyle Featherstone and Mark Braun.
In true reality show style, each episode sees participants taking part in both a community and individual challenge, but rather than worrying about being voted off the neighbourhood, their goal is raise their collective net worth by $1 million by the end of the series. In each episode a family will receive a $10,000 prize and if the group successfully reaches their million dollar goal, they will choose one family among them to win the grand prize of $100,000.
For Featherstone and Braun, participating in a reality television series came out of their desire to get involved in the community they recently began calling home.
“When we first signed up, we didn’t realize that the show was focused on finances,” admitted Featherstone. “We thought that a lot of the show would deal with making improvements to the town and community, and that is why we wanted to become involved in the show.”
Getting over the initial surprise that perhaps things were going to be a little more personal than they originally thought, the duo says they were actually more surprised at the reaction from residents to having a same-sex couple among them.
“Since we hadn’t lived there very long, we weren’t sure how people would react to us as a couple,” said Featherstone. “Very early on, however, we realized that our fears were unfounded. Everyone that we met in the community welcomed us with open arms and we were pleasantly surprised at how accepting everyone in such a small town was. People didn’t see us as the token gay couple; they saw us as the people that we are. That was really surprising for us.”
Citing the the time away from family and friends as the most difficult part of being on a reality television series, Featherstone says that while the time commitment was intense they were motivated to succeed.
“We had no idea how hard we would end up working to try and reach our community’s goals. Once we got to know our neighbours, there was increased motivation to work together. We had to give up a lot of free time, but it was definitely worth it.”
Part of that motivation also came from the couple’s decision to have a baby, which Featherstone says is a major part of their story on the show. “We are excited to watch our journey to parenthood on television, and some day we’d like to show it to our son. Becoming parents has been an incredible journey, and we are so happy to share our story.”
With filming of the show complete, the winners of the weekly and grand prizes have already been chosen, but don’t expect Featherstone and Braun to spill the beans. “We can’t give away any information about what happens on the show. You’ll have to watch and find out!
Million Dollar Neighbourhood premieres Sunday, January 22 at 5pm (and repeats at 8pm) on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network (Canada). OWN Canada can be found on Shaw Cable channel 96 and Telus Optik TV Channel 202 in Vancouver.