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Has Selling Sunset sold out? Inflated drama has ruined Netflix’s hot property

Selling Sunset, Netflix’s glamorous, Emmy-nominated series returned for a fourth season this week, welcoming viewers back into the world of high-class estate agents The Oppenheim Group.

Owned by twins Brett and Jason Oppenheim, the business is staffed by a group of impossibly beautiful and impeccably dressed sellers – Christine, Chrishell, Mary, Heather, Amanza, Maya and Davina – whose job it is to sell LA mansions to their uber rich clients.

They shop, they drink coffee, they host parties and dinners, they occasionally buy and sell hilltop palaces made of concrete and glass, they fall in and out of love and – most importantly – they argue. Like all reality shows, it’s moreish, irresistibly trashy and feeds the gossip-fuelled part of brain you pretend you left in Year 11.

I consumed the first three seasons like an addict: as a rule, my need for drama allowed me to overlook Selling Sunset’s more flagrant, obscene elements and revel in its bitchy opulence.

But this season, it feels different, tired, too forced. Has the pandemic made me more sensitive to the inequalities of the world, making Selling Sunset’s ostentation unpalatable? Certainly not – my need for material goods knows no bounds. Have I finally grown up and overcome my need for inane gossip that has no bearing on my life? Nope, I can tell you where Kim Kardashian and her new boyfriend Pete Davidson went to dinner earlier this week and what they wore to eat it.

The problem is that in its year-long hiatus I got my Selling Sunset fix not on Netflix, but in the tabloids and on social media.

The stars of Selling Sunset document their own lives on Instagram instead of the show (Photo: Netflix)

I already knew about Christine’s baby, Chrishell’s new $3.3m house and the opening of a new Oppenheim brokerage in Newport Beach before the series even started.

I know things that – in the world of the show – are in the future. I spent the entirety of season four waiting for Heather’s wedding (much trailed on her Instagram) and for Chrishell and Jason’s relationship to emerge. Neither did, though Netflix had the audacity to trail the latter for season five which is “coming soon”.

In season four, the main point of contention comes with the introduction of Emma, a millionaire businesswoman and realtor who has been Oppenheim-adjacent for years, apparently. Her arrival upsets “gothic Barbie” and resident troublemaker Christine, who claims Emma went out with her ex-boyfriend at the same time as her years before the show even started.

The drama is complicated and crescendos into a full-blown teary argument which ends the show on the bombshell of Christine’s potential exit from the brokerage.

Not only does the fighting feel particularly cruel this time around, it’s also obviously manufactured (or at least blown out of proportion) in an attempt to give keen viewers something they haven’t already read about in the press.

Selling Sunset is one of Netflix’s most successful original creations – currently number one on the site in the UK – and its more central players are now famous. They have books, collaborations with fast fashion brands, appear on the covers of magazines and, in the case of Chrishell, on Dancing with the Stars.

Emma is a new addition to the cast (Photo: Netflix)

But the attention they attract will be the downfall of the show; why should I wait six months to see Jason and Chrishell snuggling on a Greek yacht on TV when I can read about it on Twitter in real time?

It seems Netflix is all too aware of this problem. The new series of Selling Sunset introduces more agents from the Newport Beach brokerage to breathe some much-needed life into the original show. In December it’ll premiere Selling Tampa, an offshoot based in the Floridian city with an entirely new cast.

When Selling Sunset comes back for a fifth season, it should do away with forced arguments and dredging up out-of-date drama. As it stands, the show is going stale in the shadow of its stars.

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