Tonight’s episode of Chrisley Knows Best marks a major milestone for the crazy-wealthy (and also just crazy) Georgia-based Chrisley family: They’ve shot 100 episodes for USA Network. To help mark the occasion, USA will air an original episode featuring the kids and grandma Faye walking in on Todd and Julie Chrisley’s bedroom to discuss dogs. Then Todd seems to suggest the possibility of hibbity dibbity with his wife in this exclusive video clip from the episode. Hilarity ensues!
In the meantime, we asked the self-made real-estate millionaire Todd Chrisley to explain why his reality show continues to resonate with viewers after six seasons.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Did 100 episodes just fly by?
TODD CHRISLEY: I don’t think anything flies by in production. I think that certainly when we started the show, did we ever believe we would do 100 episodes? I don’t think anyone believes that. Did we think the set was going to make it for six seasons? We certainly hoped and prayed and handed that over to the good Lord above when we started. Lord, if this is the road you’ll have us travel, then we ask that you’ll let us travel it with grace and mercy and bless it, if it’s your will. He has continued to bless it.
What do you think viewers tune in the most for? Are they simply mesmerized by the dynamic between you and your family?
I think that there is a lot. Certainly the dynamics between every family member is a treat. The consistency of the comments on social media are always, “You guys are my family. We went through the same thing you did in our family,” or, “We have someone like that.” Some of my brothers like to say, “My sister’s like Savannah,” or, “Oh my God, your aunt is like my aunt.”
There’s a relatability factor that has resonated so deeply, and that is the blessing. We’re all human, we all by the grace of God go, you and I, and we’re all gonna make mistakes. We’ve all had moments of disappointment, but as a family, you’re supposed to cling together at those low points and elevate the person that’s going through the low points back to high ground. That’s what we try to do as a family, and that’s what we try to do as human beings, to lift our brother and sister in Christ up. We don’t stomp them when they’re down.
But the difference between you and lots of people is that you have a lot more money.
Listen to me, I’m gonna tell you something about money, because so many people try to believe that money is going to buy you happiness, or that money makes you a better person, or it does so many things that people without money could never do. I don’t find that to be the case. I come from a very middle-class upbringing in rural South Carolina. My parents worked in a textile factory. I spent the first part of my life, as I was growing up, I would watch shows like Dynasty and Falcon Crest and Dallas, and I would say, “God, one day I wanna have a house like that. One day I’m gonna have a car like that.” What those shows did for me, they instilled a dream. They showed me that there is something better.
The first part of my life, I chased those dreams. I’ve owned more real estate than I can count. But making the money was the easy part. Dealing with the heartache that travels with it is what they don’t prepare you for. I look back on my childhood, and I look at how my mother worked in that textile factory every day, six or seven days a week, and even though she only brought home $500 a week, she managed to raise two children, built a home, made a car payment, paid her car insurance, made sure we had lunch money every day, and made sure that we were dressed appropriately. I look back at the high point of my company, I was making $500,000 a month. I can tell you now, those were some of the loneliest days. You’ve gotta spend your days trying to keep up with all the people that you have to pay to help you manage it, to make sure that everyone’s being taken care of.
You talk about such heavy things, but one of the great things about the show is that it’s a comedy.
It is, and when this show was sold, it was sold as a docuseries. As a reality show. But the world accepted us and accepted this show as a comedy. When you start looking in our lives and the things that go on, you either laugh or you cry. We choose to laugh. I’ve had three children that have basically grown up on television. Our children have always been brought up in a private Christian school, they know the difference between right and wrong, they know who their Lord and Savior is, their grandfather’s a Southern Baptist minister for over 30 years. They know what their roots are. But when you place children as young as my children were, when this show started, into an environment where they have never hear the word “no,” that’s when you start losing your children. When your children start thinking that “no” no longer applies is when you lose your children. And we never gave in to that. My children have never had access to all of their money, that money went into the trust. At 30 years old they’ll be wealthy, right now they need to work.
When you realized that people were seeing this as a comedy, did you talk amongst yourselves and think whether you should try to be even funnier?
No, ma’am, it is organic. We’d give our calendars over to the head of production. They are logged in to our Google calendar, to where they could see everything that our assistants add to the calendar each week, for the kids, and what we’re doing, and what have you. The producers pick from what’s on that calendar that they want to follow. It’s not hard for things to be funny. [Chrisley’s son] Chase makes comments that are so dumb for somebody who has gone to one of the best private schools in the Southeast. You wanna sue the school for a refund. You’re gonna see an episode where [Chrisley’s daughter] Savannah says, “You know, somebody told Chase that they had a book about Kama Sutra. You know, that’s weed.” I turned and looked at her and I said, “Huh?” She said, “I can tell you, I heard Chase talking to one of his friends about weed, because they’ve got a book on Kama Sutra.” I said, “Are you stupid? That ain’t got a damn thing to do with weed.” And she said, “Yes, Daddy, it does.” She came to me thinking, “Oh my God, Chase is smoking pot,” because she heard him and his friend talking about Kama Sutra, and it scared her to death. You have those moments, and for us, we’re like, “Oh my God, what’s going on?” When you hear it, you’re laughing because somewhere in your life, you’ve had one of those moments.
Chrisley Knows Best airs Tuesdays at 10:30 p.m. ET on USA.