Isn’t Selling Sunset supposed to be about flogging houses?

Selling Sunset is back! Again! It’s been only five months since we last caught up with the work lives of the glamorous estate agents of the Oppenheim Group, and already Netflix has returned to beaming their pearly white teeth and sky-high heels from LA to televisions around the world.

The drama is back too, picking up after that explosive party which saw the show’s lovable villain, Christine Quinn, cast aside by her co-workers – led by Chrishell Stause, Mary Fitzgerald and newbie Emma Hernan – and given a warning that she will be sacked should she continue her spiteful ways. This season, Christine has a new bestie, British agent Chelsea Lazkani, who is more than happy to join in with her meddling.

But the big story is the reveal of Chrishell’s blossoming relationship with her boss, Jason Oppenheim. It’s something true fans of the show have known about since photos of them snogging on a yacht in Capri were splashed across the tabloids, forcing the pair – as all celebrity couples must – to confirm their romance with a coy Instagram post.

Almost a year after their relationship was revealed in the real world (they’ve since split up), the fifth season opens with an extra-curricular trip to Greece that was tacked onto the new couples’ Italian escape. Naturally, they were joined by the other agents (minus Christine, of course) to celebrate Chrishell and Mary’s birthday, thousands of miles away from the highs and lows of luxury real estate.

But wait… isn’t this show supposed to be about selling houses to the uber wealthy?

Three years since Selling Sunset first premiered on Netflix, its stars are now full-blown celebrities, with their own brand deals, dedicated social followings and paparazzi everywhere they go. Attention has moved away from their jobs to the ins and outs of their rocky love lives and the rapidly changing topography of their friendships. Which would be fine, if their jobs weren’t the most interesting thing about them.

Chrishell Stause and Jason Oppenheim (Photo: Netflix)

In series two and three – which both aired in 2020 – one of the main and most deliciously juicy storylines came when one of the agents, Davina Potratz, convinced Jason to let her list a $75m mega mansion at the agency.

Despite knowing it was overpriced, she was adamant she had the contacts and the skill to flog it. To the surprise of precisely no-one, it failed to sell and as Twitter users love to point out every now and then, the house is still listed on the Oppenheim Group’s website.

It’s made such waves within the fandom that producers have even engineered a return for the ill-fated mansion in the new season. Davina meets with property developer Adnan Sen, who built the $75 million house, to ask for another of his properties to sell at Oppenheim. Unsurprisingly, he isn’t too impressed that his mega mansion is still on the market, and so only offers her a property available to rent. Ouch.

Every “unstructured reality series” (as they’re categorised by the Emmys) pretends to have a niche, but really they’re all about the same thing. Made in Chelsea, Bling Empire, The Only Way Is Essex and all 500 versions of the Real Housewives franchise are all concerned with rich people and their seemingly endless drama. Once upon a time, Selling Sunset set itself apart by being a brilliant look at what it meant to be a woman at the top of the real estate game – now it’s just a succession of cat fights.

Mary Fitzgerald, Chelsea Lazkani and Christine Quinn (Photo: Mitchell Haaseth/Netflix)

That’s not to say the properties don’t still play a part in Selling Sunset – there are at least two drone shots through identical white, wipe-clean mansions with infinity pools per episode – but their importance has been diminished over the years.

Previously, the ringing of the giant bell which was sounded every time an agent sold a house was a real moment and cause for celebration. Now it’s a gimmicky way to jump from one argument to the next. Open houses are simply arenas for talking behind one another’s backs and clients are introduced only because the billionaire buyers fancy 15 seconds of fame on a Netflix show.

Bring back the mansions and the nitty, gritty business of selling, I say. It’s the only way to make sure Selling Sunset – one of the more tolerable reality series of the last five years – survives beyond its latest season. Are Kirsty and Phil busy?

Selling Sunset is streaming on Netflix.

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