I can’t imagine a reality where I wouldn’t be into a show like Selling Sunset. Although it’s a Netflix series, the pretty-people-caught-up-over-minor-conflict trope immediately reminded me of any program from Bravo’s iconic lineup of reality shows.
Selling Sunset follows the relationships between real estate agents working at The Oppenheim Group, a real estate brokerage in Los Angeles. Just on location alone, it shares similarities with Bravo’s Vanderpump Rules and Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.
The series also adheres to the editing style that has made reality TV what it is today. In between scenes, you’re met with sped-up transitional shots of Los Angeles and bubbly pop music that takes you back to the early aughts. I’m not saying Bravo started these trends, but it sure has created a recognizable brand with their stockpile of reality shows.
The typical houses these agents sell are just as opulent as the lifestyles exhibited in Real Housewives of Beverly Hills — complete with breathtaking views, infinity pools and a hefty price tag of at least a few million dollars.
Christine Quinn feels like the real estate agent equivalent to RHOBH star Erika Jayne: Both are confident blondes with a passion for luxury and over-the-top style. Quinn can be found in the Los Angeles office with a pair of thick-rimmed glasses with neon green accessories or meeting with a client in a hot pink ensemble.
I’ll admit, I often grow tired of reality TV characters like Quinn and Jayne. But when I wanted to write Quinn off as just another Jayne-replica, she brought the drama that Selling Sunset needed to be successful.
Since these agents have to work together in close quarters, a certain level of decorum must be maintained. This meant that most altercations were limited to a few catty remarks and ended with passive-aggressive smiles. An unfiltered Quinn manages to push her colleagues further. She was instrumental in a few fights that stretched out over seasons one and two.
While the workplace tension remains limited, an after-work dinner or broker’s open event appear to be the ideal spots for conflict. In this latest season, agent Mary Fitzgerald was still reeling over the time Quinn called her a “fucking idiot” behind her back at a broker’s open house in season two.
With a little instigation from Quinn, I think the cast has gotten more comfortable with calling things out in their third season. What started off as a handful of real estate agents having a few spats has developed into more deep-rooted issues.
Season three’s most pressing issues are a balanced mix of business and personal life. Multiple agents have spoken out about the favoritism they think Jason Oppenheim, the company’s owner and president, shows Fitzgerald. They’ve accused Oppenheim of throwing leads Fitzgerald’s way, possibly because of their 15-year friendship and brief dating history. Fitzgerald thinks her colleagues are just dismissing the talent of a successful businesswoman.
We also get a look at the personal struggles these agents need to balance with their careers. Agent Amanza Smith finds herself struggling to meet work commitments when beginning the court battle for full custody of her children.
This blend of personal and professional conflict paints working at The Oppenheim Group in a way that every occupation-themed reality show should strive for: It depicts the struggles these agents may face in their careers without getting into the mundane moments.
Given the fact that I’m about to graduate during a pandemic, I’ve had my fair share of existential thought. Selling Sunset made me rethink everything for a brief moment — what if I sell residential real estate on the sunset strip?
If you take away the series’ glamour of showing your clients a stunning mansion in your spiked platform heels, then I probably wouldn’t second-guess my career choices at all. But this is the exact goal, in my eyes. A reality show with a specific career as a plot point should allow viewers to imagine a reality where they’re working in that field. It’s like how Bravo’s Below Deck makes me want to work on a charter yacht, despite the fact that it’s grueling work and I’d probably quit after my first day.
Besides perfecting the balance of work and play, Selling Sunset has gotten more compelling to watch in its latest season. It should come as no surprise that the more we learn about these agents, the more invested we are in seeing how they turn out.