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01 August 2020 16:32

Yes. Watching Selling Sunset is like smoking a cigarette: you know it’s poison, damaging your insides for ever.

A hazy sunset hovers above the city. There are only two types of light in LA: the bright glare of daytime, and the woozy, bruise-blue glamour of night. There is never pitch darkness and there is never grey gloom. Six women in thousand-dollar bandeau dresses dance artlessly on a roof. Selling houses to software moguls is a dark art, and to do it you have to keep the hours of witches.

Selling Sunset: it's impossible to look away from this reality horror show

The Guide: Staying In – sign up for our home entertainment tips Read more Selling Sunset (Friday, Netflix) is, arguably, the end point for this generation of reality TV: it has learned every lesson every reality TV show has taught before it. It has taken elements from all the successes – the glitzy domesticity of the Kardashians, the women-who-loathe-each-other-forced-constantly-to-hang-out dynamic of Real Housewives, the ringlit to-camera interviews days after the event of Geordie Shore – and sharpened them to a spiked stiletto point. Not a moment of Selling Sunset is wasted on not being reality TV. All of the fat has been sucked out of it. A recap, for those who missed it. (And everyone missed it; Selling Sunset was the recipient of a curious algorithmic quirk, where it ended up on the front page of everyone's Netflix at the start of lockdown and became a sensation overnight.) The show follows the goings-on at the Oppenheim Group, an LA real estate brokerage that specialises in the most luxurious of luxury LA property. It's undeniable that much of Selling Sunset's allure is the property porn backdrop: swooping HD walkthroughs of multi-million-dollar homes, the kind where people park Ferraris inside them and have infinity pools with views over the glowing city below, the entirety of Selling Sunset serving as an unintentional Parasite sequel. The real meat, though, is the fake friendships and real beefs of the women who work there: Chrishell, the All-American, wholesome, wounded lead; Christine, a Cruella de Vil/Katherine Heigl crossover who is TV's perfect villain; Heather and Mary, on the surface too nice for this but, by the sheer fact that they are there, proving that there is something dark lying within them; Davina, a quiet agent of chaos; Maya, far too straight-shooting and normal for this sort of thing. The chemistry between them – hot, cold, licked teeth behind rictus smiles – is close to alchemy. We don't know what season three, which drops this week, will bring, but it's easy enough to guess: The Most Expensive Listing We've Ever Taken On!; someone introducing a silent man who wears caps to parties and owns a helicopter with a bright "Here's my new boyfriend!"; Christine saying something to Chrishell that hurts her and everyone talking about it for days. Someone gets their heel stuck in a billionaire's lawn. Someone makes so much money from a commission that they decide to leave the agency for ever. Someone moves just-so in the LA sunlight and reveals that they are a ghost wearing skin, an infinite void, an abyss of darkness. Are these good people? No. Are they likable in any way? Rarely. Am I so captivated I cannot look away, like footage of surgery, or the aftermath of a fall? Yes. Watching Selling Sunset is like smoking a cigarette: you know it's poison, damaging your insides for ever. But does it feel good to resist it? Or does it feel good to give in?