House Of Ho’s first season on HBO Max had all the decadence and drama that reality show fans demand from the genre.
Thanks to years of savvy real estate and investment bank dealings, multimillionaire family patriarch Binh Ho and his wife Hue, who moved to the U.S. from South Vietnam in 1975 unable to speak a word of English, built a world of wild extravagance and opulence for their children Judy and Washington and their families in Houston.
“It is the story of the American dream,” said Washington to mark House Of Ho’s return for a second season on August 25. “They built this successful business and family. Now they get to share that legacy on TV.”
As a result of their fabulous wealth, the Hos live in sprawling mansions with seemingly never-ending ceilings and gardens, drive sleek, fast cars that roar around streets mere inches off the ground, and wear stylish designer clothes worth more than most people spend on rent in a year. Their lifestyles also include constant partying in lavish clubs and restaurants, most of which is done by Washington, who’d then wind down by spending thousands of dollars gambling with his close friends.
Washington insists that they’re just like everyone else, despite the free-spending nature of his family. In fact, Washington believes that shows like House Of Ho continue to be so popular, even during a time of great financial peril for most, because everyone involved is “relatable.” That and their antics and way of life allow viewers “to take their minds off of their own problems for a little bit.”
Washington said he initially dreamed up the idea for House Of Ho after “seeing the success of Crazy Rich Asians.” He believed “the market wanted to see a real-life version” of the hit romantic comedy. At the same time, he’d “always wanted to be a producer growing up.” Making the show would allow him to both “learn how [the film and television industry] works” while also potentially helping “the family with our businesses and to brand and market ourselves.”Hue Ho was initially dubious about the TV show. Courtesy of Callaghan O’Hare / HBO Max
He just had the small task of convincing the rest of the Hos that it was a good idea.
To begin with, his wife Lesley—with whom he has two children—Hue, and Judy were all dubious. “The easiest person to convince by far was my father,” Washington admitted. “My father loves movies. He loves Hollywood.”
House Of Ho’s second season shows a much different side of Washington though. After being confronted by Lesley during the first season, as well as being told by his father that he was too immature to take over the family business, Washington stopped drinking altogether.
The show’s candid exploration of Washington’s problems with alcohol and sobriety has hit home for its audience. Fans across the world have sent “touching letters, emails, and messages about how I inspired them to open up and be honest with their wives,” Washington said. “It shows the impact and connection we can have, which is a responsibility and a privilege.”
House Of Ho’s newest cast member Kim, Washington and Judy’s first cousin, is also intent on making sure that she can influence viewers through her appearances, too.
“I grew up in a fairly Caucasian neighborhood. At some points of my youth, I was ashamed of being Vietnamese,” Kim said. “People made fun of the way my food smelled, of my interests, of how I dressed. I didn’t realize how important Asian culture was until I got to college in California. … So my reason for joining the show was to show that fresh perspective: I want to help other Asian people out there who are going through the same struggles. I want them to realize that they’re not alone, that they shouldn’t be ashamed of who they are.”
Washington has also ensured that House Of Ho makes an impact locally.
“One of the rules from us for shooting the show was to be able to showcase our hometown of Houston … one of the greatest food capitals of the world.”
Over the course of both seasons, he has been extremely diligent about making sure House Of Ho promotes Houston’s culture and vast array of cuisine in every episode. “One of the rules from us for shooting the show was to be able to showcase our hometown of Houston … one of the greatest food capitals of the world,” Washington said. “The first criteria for the restaurants where we film is that they have to be owned by local people and entrepreneurs. It was important for us to give exposure to restaurants that really support our home town.”
Thanks to their appearances on House Of Ho, Washington is proud to say that “all of the restaurants and bars are still around,” which is no mean feat considering the effects of COVID-19 on the service industry, while most have even seen a sharp increase in business. “It’s had a huge impact,” he insisted.
This is only the beginning for House Of Ho, Washington predicts, especially since there are 200 more Hos in his family waiting to join the fun.
“Over the next 20 years, I want to add more Hos and more storylines to the show and make it more interesting with a deeper dive into the main cast of characters,” Washington said. “We don’t have to do this for a living. We do it because we want to leave our mark on society.”