The Showrunners of Apple TV+’s “Home” Share How the Pandemic Changed Their Definition of Home
“Home” is about much more than a house, according to Collin Orcutt and Alyse Walsh. The duo, who serve as co-showrunners for the new season of Apple TV+’s “Home,” have spent the past two years searching the globe for the most innovative homes they could find. Each episode of the A24 documentary series, which returned for its second season in June, highlights a different house and its inhabitants (who are usually the architects behind the property).
All of the homes featured in the series are fresh, complex, and fundamentally unique. In the first episode of the new season, the show follows a family in the French Basque Country who renovated their home with their oldest daughter (an artist with cerebral palsy) in mind. In another episode, which takes place in Amsterdam, “Home” features a multi-purpose complex that houses three generations of one family. While the series — from Sag Harbor, New York to Barcelona, Spain — is technically about the architectural merits of a house, the show is ultimately a showcase for the people behind the homes.
“We say this line a lot — maybe it’s a little corny — but it’s not called ‘House,’ it’s called ‘Home,’ for a reason,” Walsh shared in a recent video interview alongside Orcutt. “They’re really about the people within it and what makes it more than just a building.”
Apartment Therapy caught up with Orcutt and Walsh to chat about scanning the globe for inspiration, defining architectural innovation, and filming on an international scale during the pandemic. (This interview has been condensed and edited for length and clarity.)
Apartment Therapy: Tell me a little about how dealing with the pandemic shifted your filming work. You’re obviously international for a lot of it, so everyone has different protocols. What was that like?
Alyse Walsh: Hard. [Laughs.] It was shifting constantly. We made it all throughout 2020 and 2021, so it was challenging to constantly be keeping track of the ever-changing policies and protocols — not just in America, but in nine other countries as well — which our production team was amazing at doing. We were all always on the same page that we were just making a TV show, so everybody’s health was the first and most important thing. It was super challenging.
I would say, though, that there were some cool silver linings to it. I think that had we not been doing it during the pandemic, we probably would have hired a lot more American directors and crew members because that’s our network and what we normally do when doing things abroad. You might bring a cinematographer or director from the U.S. and travel the whole crew to a country. But in many circumstances while making this season, there were some countries where we couldn’t bring any Americans or maybe we could only just have a few because of different visa policies. And so because of that, that made us expand our networks and do research into talent in new places. South Africa, for example, has an amazing film industry. And so we tapped into that and we found the director of our South Africa episode [Lebogang Rasethaba], who is somebody I probably never would have met otherwise. And he did an incredible job and we brought him back to do a second episode because of it. So that was a small silver lining, or a big silver lining, I should say.
AT: Over the past few years, everyone has been at home a lot more and we all have shifting ideas of home. How did working on this through the pandemic change your definition of home?
Collin Orcutt: I guess it made you think about what you wanted or needed from home almost 24 hours a day. I don’t even know if there’s a coherent way to answer that question. I guess it just really made me think about what a space needed to provide to feel safe or comfortable or creative. And I think it’s just a constant thought process or evolution. So I think it changed what home meant or how I thought about home, and that it’s just like constantly thinking about what it is that you want from home. And it changes all the time too, right? I think that’s kind of what the pandemic showed us, is that what we thought we needed for home shifted during the pandemic and it will probably shift again. And I think that’s what we learned from a lot of the people that we feature in the series as well, that they all have different ways of living because they had different needs from their homes. So that’s definitely one of the big takeaways for me.
AT: Tell me a little bit about the process of going through and finding the homeowners, finding people willing to do these documentaries, and actually whittling down to 10.
AW: It’s a challenging process, because we have a lot of boxes we’re trying to check. We’re looking for homes that are visually interesting and beautiful, but it goes much deeper than that. So it’s not just about finding pretty houses and pretty spaces. We’re really looking for people, amazing creators, who have unique philosophies around living, who are doing something that challenges convention and shows our viewers — hopefully — that they can think differently about how they live and the home that they are creating. So it takes a lot of research, and we have amazing researchers and producers that worked with us to help us do that. And we would have lots of creative meetings, throwing around ideas, and all talking about what inspired us about each of them until we were kind of whittling it down. And, of course, we’re also looking to try and make it very global and make sure that we’re looking at what home means in all different cultures to all different people.
AT: One specific thing that I noticed this season was that there was a real sort of organic, natural feeling to most of the homes. They’re often connected with nature or deeply rooted in history. There’s a great quote from the France episode where the homeowner talks about how good architecture is about taking advantage of what’s already there. Did you go into picking the homes this season with that in mind or did it naturally just fall that way?
CO: I think that’s a fair question and a really good question. Things like climate change and the climate that we live in . . . it’s an issue that almost every home touches on in some way. All of them are dealing with it in some capacity. And so I think then we took it upon ourselves to find homes that had an interesting perspective on it, or homeowners that were thinking about it in a different way. So I don’t know that we set out to do that, but I think the world is kind of telling us that it’s something that we need to be aware of, and certainly a lot of the homeowners we found were taking it upon themselves to do that with their homes.
AW: Yeah. I think we look for stories and for people whose — the philosophies that I mentioned before — ways of looking at things matter in some way. They’re not just about aesthetics. And it’s fine if your house is just about aesthetics! Obviously, there [are] a lot of architects who are working in that way, but that’s not really what this show is meant to be about. It’s trying to find people who are thinking differently and challenging us all. And so I think that those topics and themes that kind of are reoccurring a little bit are just a reflection of the world we live in right now.
AT: So much of the series is about innovation. I see that word used a lot. And I think people sort of automatically hear that and think “high tech,” which is definitely not the case. After working on this season, what does an innovative home mean to you?
AW: It can mean so many things. I feel like a lot of it’s about intention, almost more than innovation. And they are innovative. In a lot of ways we see people using techniques, even if they’re really ancient techniques, to help with the climate that they live in, for example. But it’s really about the intention behind what these people have created and what the larger meaning is, like whether that is being as close to nature as possible without actually disturbing it, or if that’s about reusing and repurposing things that other people might consider to be unusable.
CO: I think you’re correct in that innovation is often thought about [as] creating something new. But I think innovation really is thinking about things in a new way. And so I think that’s what all of the homes really do. It just makes you think about something in a new way. I think that’s how I’d answer that one at least. That’s what all the homes were to me. You brought up the example of the home in France, right? It was looking at that in new areas, in a new way. The same with the home in Mexico City, right? They’re mixing heritage with different modernist architecture techniques, and by combining those, they created something innovative in a new way.
“Home” is available to stream on Apple TV+.