‘Selling Sunset’: Jason Oppenheim Knows the Show Wouldn’t Be as Popular If It Had Gone His Way

The world of reality TV has simply exploded over the last decade. With so many streaming options for how viewers consume television programming, there are lots of ways to get your reality TV fix. The shows can vary from the hyper-realistic to the overly dramatized and do everything from providing a close look at someone’s profession to putting competitors in outlandish situations. Whether they’re watching contestants bake the best cupcake or get married to a stranger, viewers are eager for more.

This trend has definitely extended to the real estate world, and the HGTV network has demonstrated there’s a true demand for reality TV shows about every aspect of the real estate business. From renovations to decor to sales, viewers like to see what makes the world of housing work, and that’s where Jason Oppenheim thought the Netflix series Selling Sunset was going to fit. 

Of course, we know now that the series following some of Los Angeles’ luxury real estate agents is less about the properties and more about the interpersonal drama. 

(L-R) Brett Oppenheim, Brandon Riegg, Christine Quinn, and Jason Oppenheim
(L-R) Brett Oppenheim, Brandon Riegg, Christine Quinn, and Jason Oppenheim | Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images

Jason Oppenheim has gained fame through ‘Selling Sunset’

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Team dinner.

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Netflix premiered Selling Sunset in 2019 as an answer to fans’ demand for more reality TV programming. On its surface, the show seemed to be about the real estate market among luxury buyers in Los Angeles, and that certainly is a backdrop for the series. The show follows the Oppenheim Group, founded by Jason Oppenheim, as the real estate agents who work there try to meet the demands of some deep-pocketed clients. 

It became quickly apparent that the reality TV focus would be less on the sales of the properties and more on the interpersonal relationships of the real estate agents who make up the firm. The workplace has been called “dysfunctional” and unprofessional because of the many twisted interactions between the co-workers who seem to have a real issue separating their personal lives from their professional ones. Spouses and significant others make frequent appearances, and there are plenty of webs of deceit and subterfuge running beneath the surface of their interactions. 

Jason Oppenheim expected a different show 

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In an interview with Hello!, Oppenheim makes it clear that he really does have the real estate experience and expertise to back up his appearance on the show. He’s been entrusted with such impressive properties as Orlando Bloom’s $10 million home, which he is currently working to sell. He also did the renovations on his own stunning Los Angeles residence, which included a complete gut overhaul from its original 1978 build. 

He and his twin brother Brett run the Oppenheim group, and he didn’t realize that the series would take such a personal turn when he agreed to do it. “I wanted it to be all about the nuances of real estate,” Oppenheim explained about his initial agreement to do the show. In fact, he doubts he would have signed up at all if he had known just how much the plot would eventually focus on the cast’s love lives. 

‘Selling Sunset’ would not have been as popular if Jason Oppenheim had his way

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Love having my dad’s Harley in the office.

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While Oppenheim admits that the show took a turn he hadn’t expected — or wanted — he also knows that fans are happy with things the way they turned out. “I now realise the show I envisaged wouldn’t be that popular! I’ve come to accept the idea that I’m on more of a reality show than a real-estate show,” he explains. 

Even if things haven’t gone as he imagined, he’s incredibly happy with the work that he does. He had originally trained to be a lawyer, but he is grateful for finding a different path: “I’m more of an entrepreneur; I wanted to own my own business and I’m truly passionate about real estate. Being a lawyer felt like work but this doesn’t; to be honest, I’d do this job for ten per cent of the money that I make. That’s how much I enjoy this work.”