Why Melissa McCarthy Was Inspired to Do HGTV’s ‘The Great Giveback’

Q&A
HGTV

Generosity can’t be overrated, and actress-fashion designer Melissa McCarthy and her cousin Jenna Perusich hammer that point home — literally — in HGTV’s newest home-sweeter-home series.

Over six episodes of The Great Giveback With Melissa McCarthy and Jenna Perusich, the two refurbish spaces to surprise do-gooders like combat veteran Katie in the premiere or, later, inner-city nonprofit director Mynor, all nominated by loved ones. Giveback “reminds you how good the simplest act of kindness can be,” says Emmy-winning Mike & Molly and Gilmore Girls vet McCarthy, who also serves as an executive producer.

Here, she and Perusich (also an actress) share what led to the sawdust-filled moments—and powerful stories—ahead.

Did your 2020 episode of Celebrity IOU with Property Brothers Jonathan and Drew Scott — where you surprised Jenna’s parents with a home makeover — inspire you to do Giveback?

Melissa McCarthy: Doing Celebrity IOU was such a fantastic experience. But Jenna and I are both rather house-obsessed. My husband [actor Ben Falcone, also an EP] is always saying, “You two like rebuilding and destruction in equal parts. As soon as you get something done, you’re like, ‘Should we rip that down?’” It’s a natural extension of what we’ve done for our friends and family for years.

Jenna Perusich: Exactly. And with Celebrity IOU, we really got to see how changing someone’s home can lighten the load emotionally and physically. I saw that firsthand with my parents.

How humbling was it to learn the stories of the people you’re helping?

McCarthy: Getting to know these families and these people, it was such an incredible reminder that there’s so much good in the world.

The Great Giveback with Melissa McCarthy and Jenna Perusich

HGTV

Perusich: It made me [think], “What can I do on a Tuesday at 3pm in a Starbucks line to just be a better person?”

How hands-on are you two during the actual renovation?

McCarthy: Some would say too hands-on. If we hadn’t done [a task before], we were like, “Well, great. This is where we learn to do it.” Like, we never plastered. Now I know how to plaster. I think people were probably confused by how much we were in there.

Perusich: We wanted every space to [match] the vibe of the owner, because it’s all about making them feel good.

Are the big reveals exciting?

McCarthy: It’s so nerve-wracking. You just want them to be so happy, because there is always the risk they could come in and be like, “Oh wait, what?” And it’s like, “Oh, my gosh, well, we can’t go back now!”

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Does it get emotional?

McCarthy: There weren’t a lot of dry eyes on Giveback quite often. Happy tears, emotional, overwhelming tears — Jenna and I are both quick to go.

Perusich: Oh, yeah. We lead with our emotions, and together it is like an open nerve, 24/7.

The Great Giveback With Melissa McCarthy and Jenna Perusich, Series Premiere Monday, June 13, 9/8c, HGTV