By Ruth Kinane
September 03, 2020 at 03:16 PM EDT
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Credit: Chloe Gifkins/Netflix

If we know one thing about Netflix, it's when they find a formula that works, they stick with it. That thinking is the reason we've been blessed with visionary masterpieces like Love Is Blind, The Circle, and — God help us all — Too Hot to Handle.

We're assuming that more-of-a-good-thing logic was behind the streaming service's decision to have us suffer through their new real estate series Million Dollar Beach House on the back of the success of the glamorous Selling Sunset

The new series is set in the luxurious hamlets and villages of the Hamptons in New York and follows the brokers at Nest Seekers real estate agency as they endeavor to sell homes between Memorial Day and Labor Day 2019. Sure, the premise is similar to that of Selling Sunset, but where the L.A. equivalent thrives on the clashing personalities at the Oppenheim Group, MDBH lacks any real (or manufactured by producers) drama to fill the space between looking at gorgeous properties.

Still, if you've got nothing better to do/binge during this seemingly endless quarantine and a penchant for pretty things and petty conversation, you might as well tune in — just don't expect it to be as snappy or fun as Selling Sunset. Below, we detail some of the key differences between the two shows to guide you on your viewing voyage. Who's ready for some polo and pretension?

The players

While Selling Sunset introduced us to a cast of glamorous gals eager to seek out commission and catfights, MDBH brings us a bunch of boring bros (and one woman) who've never met a boat shoe they didn't purchase or an idiom they didn't butcher. Here's the who's who:

Let's start with the old guard: James "Jimmy" Gugliano. The soft-spoken broker went from "zero to being one of the top brokers in just five years" and took home over $2.5 million in commission last year. On the show, he takes on a mentor-style role to the newer agents and mostly just seems like an average dude trying to do his job, which in real-life we applaud, but on reality TV, we abhor. Come on, Jimmy — at the very least, get mad at someone for creasing your $1000 Armani blazer.

Next up, we've got Michael "Fulf" Fulfree. Yup, you're right, only a straight, white, former male model would have the confidence to go by such a nickname. And that's Fulf in a nutshell: confident and conventionally attractive. He's been at Nest Seekers a year, after spending time modeling for the likes of Calvin Klein, Dolce & Gabbana, and Armani. He also has a baby on the way, (which he only mentions about 6,000 times over the course of six episodes) who has the exact same nose as him (a revelation that's first teased in a 3D sonogram and later confirmed at birth). Michael's only goal is to make millions of dollars to provide for his newborn. We know babies ain't cheap, but either someone has lied to Fulf about the cost of diapers or he's prematurely looked up the price of polo lessons in East Hampton.

Michael's high school bestie, J.B. Andreassi, is the rookie at the agency and, not unlike Selling Sunset's Chrishell Stause, is our entry point into the brokerage and the series. Unlike Chrishell, J.B. is mostly devoid of any genuine charm and charisma. While you find yourself rooting for Chrishell in a sea of ambitious, vitriolic agents, J.B. is a pretty simple man-boy in too tight white chinos whose only discernible goal in life seems to be to get rich and maybe start a family — he's 28 and Italian, so, natch? Will he snag a sale by season's end? Will you care if he does? Negative on both fronts. You truly get the impression even J.B. expected bigger things for his life.

To sidestep any accusations of sexism down at the bro-kerage, the show includes one of the female agents at Nest Seekers. At first glance, Peggy Zabakolas seems like a pretty normal yet determined agent, who probably (and understandably) is sick of trying to prove herself in a male-dominated world workplace, and gets a little testy when anyone is perceived to have crossed her. At times, her complaints seem reasonable, other times — when plied with a Tami Taylor-sized glass of pinot — she can create drama as big as an average-sized Sag Harbor home, the mundane aftermath of which will last for episodes to come. She's no Selling Sunset's Christine, but the cast of MDBH, in general, doesn't have the same flare for the dramatic or life in general that the ladies over at Oppenheim exude.

Meanwhile, Noel Roberts seems like he might be this listless show's savior in that the others seemingly don't like him and he's all about scheming and schmoozing to succeed. But in the end, after a confrontation or two with Peggy, any tension the one-time competitive ping pong player sparked, fizzles out. The ladies of Sunset Boulevard would never waste a potential showdown that could last the course of multiple episodes like that. We blame the producers — someone send Adam DiVello the season 2 script to edit.

The properties

Credit: Netflix

There's something sadistically genius about forcing stuck-at-home viewers to watch television shows about beautiful, cavernous mansions in the most elite zip codes in the country. Bored of your own home and growing to despise every last inanimate object it contains, MDBH's premise should be enough to draw you in with an offer of escapism and aspiration (as deluded as that may be). In reality though, looking at gorgeous homes with multiple acres of land, built-in pizza ovens, and bowling alleys is entertaining for a minute, before being confronted with that much space(!) and all the pre-COVID mingling that goes along with it, becomes low-key soul destroying. Don't get me wrong, the sweeping aerial shots of the mansions with their unnaturally blue pools, private yacht decks, and immaculately manicured hedges are very easy on the eyes, but when the agents themselves can only muster phrases such as "super cool" and "awesome for entertaining" to describe them, and want to target wealthy bachelors with nothing better to do with their money as buyers, the whole thing loses its charm. Diminishing the show's selling point further is the fact that the brokers themselves just seem a bit miserable, probably in the knowledge they'll never be ridiculously rich enough to own the homes they're showing.

The petty drama

As we mentioned, the drama on MDBH doesn't come close to any Christine vs. Chrishell showdown, and no one is throwing a gothic winter wonderland wedding. The closest thing the Nest Seekers gang gets is lavish open house parties complete with women clad in metallic bodysuits, copious amounts of Whispering Angel, and platters of steak sliders. (Honestly, as a non-billionaire, it sounds like a fab party to crash with zero interest in buying, right? But surely no serious buyer would bother to mingle with the commoners before swooping in with an offer.)

There's a lot of emphasis placed on the "fast-moving" Hamptons market throughout the series, but, forgive me if I'm wrong, no one actually seems to make a sale over the course of the six episodes? Competitive home-selling in a stressful market aside, the biggest (read: only) dramatic moment happens with Peggy — brimming over with wine — accuses some blonde (the producers seemed to have plucked from obscurity) of being "officially the fakest person [she's] ever met." In all honesty, I zoned out during the scenes leading up to this clash, but I'm still pretty sure all the poor girl did was mention she didn't want Peggy at some showing. Peggy is offended by the rudeness, while the blonde (like the viewer) seems more bewildered than upset and barely bothers to get a word out in her own defense. It was so unremarkable that I didn't even bother to rewind to see what I'd missed. Gah, do I miss Devina? 

If you want ridiculously dramatic scenes and stunning houses, just watch this over-the-top two-minute Instagram ad for Nest Seekers instead. Or better yet, rewatch Selling Sunset. At least it's fun.

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