It's become this summer's guilty pleasure. A heady mix of fake tan blonde real estate agents, tiny dresses, and sky-high heels struggling to close deals for multi-million dollar homes in glamorous Hollywood.
But now Selling Sunset, the top-rated show on Netflix on both sides of the Atlantic, is embroiled in a fake franchise claiming the action is written in scripts and the glamorous stars aren't even real estate agents.
Sunday's Mail found that many of the characters are models or actors, while public records show they sold suspiciously few properties.
Chrishell Stause and Mary Fitzgerald have both only sold five homes since Selling Sunset began filming in 2018, sparking allegations that the reality show was based on fake actions
And while British viewers of Made In Chelsea or The Only Way Is Essex might be used to the fuzzy edges of “structured reality,” this is America where things like this are taken seriously.
The premise of the show is simple: twin brothers Brett and Jason Oppenheim run their high-end real estate agency The Oppenheim Group from designer offices on the Sunset Strip in LA.
The agency is so hip that the office desks are made from recycled Boeing 747 parts.
But it's the women on the show – all meticulously coiffed, with their £ 10,000 Hermes handbags, Jimmy Choo heels, and tiny designer dresses – who are the real "stars" when showing mansions to the ultra-wealthy discuss the most intimate details of their complicated love life while wearing gorgeous dresses or barely-there mini dresses.
The show debuted early last year with less than stellar ratings and appeared to be destined to wallow in the dark until Covid-19 and Lockdown.
Now even celebrities like Orlando Bloom and Katy Perry are watching who could possibly afford the houses on display.
Beverly Hills realtor Brianna King of Rodeo Realty said, "It's the ultimate escapist television. It's a throwback to another time.
“You have beautiful people showing off these amazing homes with sweeping views of Los Angeles, and then you can follow them as they sip cocktails and have catfights in beautiful restaurants. What is not to love
"There are beautiful people in beautiful houses. It couldn't be more therapeutic."
But that was before Chrissy Teigen, the former supermodel who was married to singer John Legend, was asked publicly if any of the women on the show were real real estate experts.
Teigen, who has 13 million Twitter followers, said, "I look a lot at real estate in LA and have never seen any of those people, and neither have our agents whom I obsessively asked."
Mary Fitzgerald, pictured in the office, is said to have met husband Romain Bonnet when he was a struggling pastry chef, and she showed him rental properties despite the face a pastry chef could barely afford. In fact, Bonnet is under contract with a leading modeling agency.
Another longtime LA agent who has been in the business for 30 years told MoS, “The Oppenheim brothers are the real business, but none of us have ever come across the women they work for.
"It's clear that these 'girls,' as they call them on the show, were hired to make the show sizzle."
While the performers have legitimate brokerage licenses – after registering with the California State Department of Real Estate – MoS has determined that some, like Chrishell Stause and Amanza Smith, got theirs just before filming began.
And it seems that the "girls" didn't sell that much property. Stause and Mary Fitzgerald have both sold just five homes since filming began in 2018.
Davina Potratz and Maya Vander only sold one each. When asked about her retail sale, Potratz laughed and said, "So cool to see she (Teigen) watch our show."
A real estate agent told the MoS, "These sales numbers are not great for everyone.
"Nobody sells anything during the pandemic, but the numbers seem to suggest the show may be relying on women to add drama and beauty rather than cold, hard sales."
While the series builds the women's backstories for dramatic effects (Stause was raised in abject poverty and admits she “smelled” of her homelessness), it doesn't mention that many were already in show business when Selling Sunset was cast.
Stause is a little actress who appeared on US soaps All My Children and Days Of Our Lives.
Her crumbling marriage and subsequent divorce from actor Justin Hartley's husband are heavily represented in the show's third season, which is out now.
Fitzgerald is believed to have met a toy boy's husband, French-born Romain Bonnet, when he arrived in LA as a struggling pastry chef, and she showed him rental properties, though most struggling French pastry chefs couldn't even afford the fabulous homes. In fact, Bonnet, a 6ft 4in hunk, is under contract with a leading modeling agency.
Chrishell Stause, pictured at a friend's wedding, acquired her real estate license from the California Department of Real Estate just before filming began on Selling Sunset in 2018
Says a Selling Sunset insider, “The show portrays the cast as people who have always been in the real estate world.
“While this applies to some of the women, others were only brought on board for their looks and acting skills.
“But hey, this is Hollywood. It's all smoke and mirrors. When you're number one, that's all that matters. Nobody hurts anyone. "
Last night Jason Oppenheim said: “All women who work in the Oppenheim Group are licensed and successful real estate agents.
“We have more than $ 200 million in active offerings, we're in a dozen escrow accounts (the step before final sale), and we expect our most successful year ever despite the pandemic.
"The show created opportunities for women beyond real estate, including collaborative brands, TV and press appearances."
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