It may be because I spent last fall buying an apartment, but I am slightly addicted to Million Dollar Listing. The show’s in its fourth season, and it’s definitely not one of Bravo’s bigger hits—I hadn’t heard of it before promos started popping up during other shows I was watching, which is unusual. I know I’d heard of more minor shows like Tabatha’s Salon Takeover before I ever saw an episode. Maybe it’s just that the show lives in the shadow of Flipping Out—its an ensemble show with younger real estate pros than Jeff Lewis, so it just may not be as high-profile.
Some of it is just the real estate porn factor, of course. It’s easy to lose a winter afternoon dreaming of infinity pools, and Malibu beachfront views, and freestanding gas powered fireplaces in the middle of sleek, airy rooms. Because the real estate is so completely over the top, I don’t feel any particular jealousy for the people who are buying and selling these properties. In truth, I even feel a little sorry for the people who are putting their homes on the market. They’re universally disappointed by the prices they’re getting, and a lot of them are putting houses on the market they obviously don’t want to sell.
And the realtors themselves are a twitchy, sharky lot. Josh Flagg, who was arrested for but never charged with stealing artwork from a client as the first season went on air, is a flake: he’s very sweet to his Holocaust-survivor grandmother, and leans towards schtick like signing up blonde twins as his interns. Josh Altman is Boston-born and overdressed for the areas where he’s selling, with perpetually hooded eyes and a smile that shows a lot of teeth but no particular warmth (in a very smart little example of integration between shows, one of the husbands of a Real Housewife of Beverly Hills shows up in partnership with Altman periodically). And Madison Hildebrand is perpetually tanned and beach-casual, but he’s anxious—about listings, about how out he wants to be, about his ex-boyfriend, about the perceptions of his competition.
I think there’s an element of schadenfreude in all of this, seeing that the rich are as stressed out about real estate as the middle class, and that the people who are in charge of these ridiculous transactions are as twitchy as they are. Watching them sweat ameliorates a lot of envy.