Fans of the HGTV hit Windy City Rehab will likely know that the show's designer and co-host, Alison Victoria, has had it especially rough in the past year. While the early 2019 debut of Season 1 should have been the beginning of lots of wonderful things for Victoria and her business partner, Donovan Eckhardt, they soon found themselves in increasing amounts of trouble with both the city of Chicago and homeowners whose properties they'd worked on for the show. By the time Season 2 rolled around, things were even worse, and now Alison Victoria has opened up about why she can't watch the newest episodes.
It seemed that Alison Victoria and Donovan Eckhardt had hit pay dirt when their Windy City Rehab landed on HGTV and became an instant success. But, it wasn't long after the show's first season that news came out about complaints from neighbors near the homes they'd renovated, with them soon being hit with stop work orders from the city and several lawsuits from those they had rehabbed houses for. Season 2, which debuted in September 2020, showed the outcome of all the issues, and saw Victoria become increasingly suspicious of how Eckhardt was handling the business aspects of their company, until they eventually ended their partnership.
Victoria has spoken a lot in the past several months about how she's trying to rebuild both her company and reputation after all the drama and legal trouble. But, now, she's talking about how she can't bring herself to watch what transpired during Windy City Rehab Season 2. When discussing the past year on the new Discovery+ talk show HGTV House Party (via People), Victoria said:
I've gone through hell. I'm not even close to being back — at all. I'm not past it. It's not like 'Oh, she had the hardest year of her life,' like, no, I'm having it. . . . Honestly, I'm not going to watch it. I can't watch it again because it's reliving my life. It's PTSD.
Well, Alison Victoria does make some very good points here. Obviously, it would be incredibly difficult to have your business fall apart so quickly, and while it had occurred to me that watching such a thing unfold on TV would be just as hard, I hadn't thought about the fact that she would be watching Season 2 after some of those events had happened, and would them have to relive them. I don't doubt that it would be very triggering, and probably not be the kind of experience which would help her get past everything, especially considering the fact that, as Victoria noted, she's still dealing with much of the fallout.
One of the lawsuits which was filed against Alison Victoria and her former contractor was settled back in late November, but there are still several other legal cases pending against the duo. In addition, mid-January saw Donovan Eckhardt file his own suit against HGTV's parent company and the production company behind Windy City Rehab, claiming defamation and emotional distress, and requesting a payout of at least $2.2 million. Eckhardt's filing says that many of the problems he had behind the scenes while working on the series were due to the "aggressive filming and production deadlines," and also claims that the show made him look like a villain, while painting Victoria as a saint.
Fans watched in Windy City Rehab Season 2 as Alison Victoria appears to come to the conclusion that Eckhardt was misappropriating funds, which leads her to break off the partnership and begin the process of separating her business interests from his, as the lawsuits and trouble with the city continued to mount, while also still trying to finish the projects they'd already had in progress.
Victoria has been open in the past few months about the difficulty of that process, and it's pretty clear from her interview that a lot of that work is still ahead of her, so it makes complete sense that she'd find watching the second season of Windy City Rehab an impossibility right now.