Selling Sunset is the latest surprise hit for Netflix. It’s an instantly bingeable reality show about the true lives of glamorous realtors in Los Angeles, and it’s new territory for Netflix as it’s the streaming service’s first English-language docu-soap. But as with all reality shows, viewers want to know the answer to one question: Is Selling Sunset real? Or is Selling Sunset fake, a kind of meta reality show like the mockumentary American Vandal? If you find yourself wondering if Mary and Romain’s love is real or if Christine and Chrishell really are frenemies (emphasis on “enemies”), here’s the tea!
Is Selling Sunset real?
Yes–or at least it’s as real as any docu-soap. All reality shows, from competition shows like RuPaul’s Drag Race to makeover shows like Queer Eye to international hits like Terrace House, all involve some level of pre-production and nudging from behind-the-scenes. Maybe that’s through producers feeding a host questions that they know will get confessions out of contestants, or its through casting directors finding real people that will make for the best TV. Reality TV is real in that there’s not exactly a pre-written script that the cast follows, but there’s still plenty of planning and storytelling done by the producers and editors and even the stars. That’s the genre!
Selling Sunset is no different. In fact, Selling Sunset comes from one of the pioneers of this specific reality TV subgenre, the docu-soap. Selling Sunset comes from Adam DiVello, of Laguna Beach and The Hills fame. So it’s easy to assume that Selling Sunset is just as real as those shows were.
DiVello actually talked about the process he goes through when putting together a show in an interview with Variety. He says that all the cast members on all his shows are urged to be themselves, and that they shy away from people who seem fake. “I think when you’re trying to play a part it always reads as fake and people don’t sense that person as well,” DiVello told Variety. “We try to stay away from those types of people. And the ones we gravitate toward are the ones being themselves. If I feel like someone is being artificial we steer clear of them.”
Are the Selling Sunset cast members actually realtors?
Yes, they all are. The Oppenheim Group is an actual real estate company that’s been selling and showing properties in Los Angeles for a very long time. You can even read all their company profiles on the Oppenheim Group website. And yes, actress Chrishell Hartley is really a realtor, too. DiVello told Variety, “She’s just a sweetheart to begin with, and she really is a realtor and has a real estate license selling homes when we met her.” DiVello also revealed that it was he who approached the Oppenheim Group about doing a show, not the other way around.
Also, Mary and Romain really are dating and Christine’s friend Jacob really is from Texas, just like her.
Is Selling Sunset scripted?
No–but also yes? Listen: it’s no secret that most, if not all, of a reality show’s outings and events are planned by producers to get people together and to make sparks fly. That’s how the genre works! But also in a very literal sense, while there’s no literal script, fans have gone through and written down every word said on the show. Selling Sunset is not scripted, but thanks to viewers, now there is a script.