reality tv

Netflix’s first documentary soap opera Selling Sunset is an addictive viewing experience.

There’s nothing like watching a new show that extends your mind, feeds your soul, and makes you grow in ways you didn’t even know you could.

Selling Sunset is not such a show.

Currently streaming on Netflix, season one of the 2019 docu-drama is about a pack of money-hungry sharks who sell property by day, and sleep with Trump’s The Art of the Deal on their bedside tables by night.

It’s a reality series about The Oppenheim Group, consisting of mostly female real estate agents who specialise in high-end property in the Hollywood Hills.

Each home is architect-designed and worth millions; it’s pure property porn.

Each cast member is ‘beautiful’, white, and has a voracious appetite for success; it’s pure people-watching porn.

Apart from real property transactions, we haven’t seen a series that’s as unashamedly vacuous as Selling Sunset for a long time. The show is everything us average people are not – which makes it the best thing to devour – because it’s total escapism into a world most of us would never belong in.

And would not want to, either.

Part of the premise of the show is the old trope of pitting women against each other – but, in this case, they are competing over something real – the selling of property. It’s almost like a ‘Real Housewives’ – but there’s a huge exception; these women want to work hard, and care very much about their careers.

It would almost be inspiring to watch, if there was any other way average women like myself could relate to them – but we can’t. We don’t have their bank accounts, their bodycon wardrobes, or their botox schedules.

If you’re thinking this sounds like a grown-up version of The Hills, you’re not wrong. In fact, Selling Sunset is made by the same person – Adam Di Vello.

Selling Sunset is believed to be the streaming service’s first English-language docusoap (following Made in Mexico which debuted last year), a format first popularized in the early 2000s by shows like MTV’s Laguna Beach and The Hills.

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Apart from being visually entertaining, there’s a plot – sort of. The show opens with Chrishell Hartley joining the Oppenheim group, which is run by Brett Oppenheim and his twin brother, Jason. Sparks immediately fly between her and the more established employees, Mary Fitzgerald, Davina Potratz, Christine Quinn, Maya Vander, and Heather Young.

We get a sneak peek into their extravagant lives, but also, how hard they’ve all worked to achieve that level of material success. And yes, there’s gossip, espresso martinis, pregnancies, proposals, bitchiness galore.

As for the property in the show, it’s like watching Architectural Digest come to life – on steroids. We are told the value per square foot of the property, its selling price, and then, most deliciously, what the agent’s commission would be.

For example, if a property’s commission is $120, 000, you understand immediately what’s at stake for the agent; and that makes watching the process all the more thrilling.

Selling Sunset is a fascinating window into a Hollywood lifestyle most of us could only dream of; but, at the same time, one we wouldn’t bother dreaming of, either. The values espoused are not admirable. There’s no responsible building, no concern for sustainability, nothing done with a social conscience. The properties, like the cast mates, are bold, brash and ballsy.

But even if most of us choose not to live like that, it’s certainly nice to eat a slice of it as part of our entertainment.

If you’ve devoured season one as I have, there’s good news; season two hasn’t been confirmed – but it also hasn’t been denied. Jason Oppenheim spoke to Express this week and didn’t rule out the possibility of a second season, saying simply, “That will be a decision for Netflix to make first.”

Which, in Selling Sunset-speak means, of course; if the price is right.

Selling Sunset season one is available to watch on Netflix, it is rated PG. 

If you’d like to hear more from Nama Winston, see her stories here, and subscribe to her weekly Mamamia Parents newsletter here.

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