W Network’s Game of Homes returns for drama-filled Season 2

The home renovation show with the best twist on a TV title ever returns with one of the biggest prizes in Canadian TV. Season 2 of Game of Homes is back Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET/PT on W Network with resident judges Colin McAllister and Justin Ryan, host Dave Salmoni and four pairs of two looking to score one heck of a grand prize: a house, furniture inside the house and a plot of land to put it on.

Where Season 1 had the backdrop of Vancouver, the sophomore go-round is based just outside of Toronto, and eight weeks of toil turns into triumph for two people. Will it be Kim and Harry, who want to win the house for financial freedom and a chance to spend more time with their kids? Maybe best friends Domenic and Michael, hoping to move out of their parents’ home. There is also engaged couple Courtney and Tyler; and mother and son duo Shelley and Alex, looking to win the house to secure financial stability for Alex’s future. Regardless of who wins, the road is a bumpy one.

“When things happen and they realize, ‘Holy shit, I could win a house,’ that’s one reality,” says Salmoni during a break in filming. “Then there’s the reality of the first time they don’t enjoy being part of a TV show. ‘I’m having a first AD scream at me?’ ‘I have to do that again?’ There are a lot of things you don’t consider when you sign on to do a design show.” Salmoni, an animal trainer and host of such nature series as Rogue Nature and Into the Pride and heading up Mark Burnett’s adventure series Expedition Impossible, dispenses tough love to the competitors, who are challenged to renovate a room at a time in the run-down abodes they’ve chosen. At the end of each episode, McAllister, Ryan, a guest judge weigh in on whose room looks the best.

“Colin and I are very practical and there can only be one winner,” Ryan says. “But to get there, there is a big emotional journey. We have connected with the contestants, but we have to keep that barrier alive where we can be critical without offending.”

“I want them all to win, but I’m there for the rules,” Salmoni explains. “If you tell me you’re tired? Tough, this is what you signed on for. If you received some comments from the judges that you didn’t like? Tough, do better next time.” There’s a lot of that attitude—both from the judges and contestants—in Episode 1. The dazzle of being part of a television show quickly fades when hours stretch into days, ingenious ideas crumble and tempers flare. McAllister, Ryan and guest judge Todd Talbot pull no punches in their criticisms of the living room renovations and leads to bruised egos.

“The stress of it is expected for a show like this,” Salmoni says. “What I didn’t expect was the weather. It’s getting cold and there’s no heat in the houses. They’ve been struggling.” Luckily, the grand prize is worth it.

Game of Homes airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on W Network.