Season 2 of 'Selling Sunset'
Courtesy of Netflix

It wasn’t the first reality series to mix high-end real estate with high-stakes interpersonal drama—Bravo’s Million Dollar Listing franchise, for one, debuted in 2006—but the influence of Selling Sunset transcends its subgenre. Netflix’s first original docusoap, it chronicles the telegenic lives of agents at the Hollywood-based Oppenheim Group, with actual soap star Chrishell Stause playing Cinderella to Christine Quinn’s pot-stirring, fashion-victim villain. The modern fairy tale reached its emotional apex in season 3, as cameras followed Chrishell while her marriage to This Is Us star Justin Hartley dissolved, apparently overnight. With an openness that verged on exhibitionism, she wallowed and sought comfort in family, as Christine and her allies kept talking smack.

Since then, the cast has become a tabloid staple. Viewers now tune in for behind-the-headlines insight into the O-Group’s romances and feuds. Last year saw the premiere of spin-off Selling Tampa, another a new one, Selling the O.C., is due out Aug. 24, and just about every streamer has its own dupe, from Amazon’s Luxe Listings Sydney to the familiarly titled Discovery+ series Selling the Hamptons. More importantly, Sunset has set the template for reality TV in the streaming era, on Netflix and beyond. Packed with conflict, backloaded with cliffhangers, and clocking in at a breezy 30ish minutes, its easily bingeable episodes amount to a more potent form of a drug developed by the social engineers at Bravo. —Judy Berman


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