Selling the OC is the latest in the Netflix television franchise depicting the various real-estate outlets operated by the Oppenheim twins. The Oppenheims are two tiny Smurf men who like to hire statuesque giants of all genders to facilitate property deals. At a company shindig in the first episode, I watch the teensy-weensy Oppenheims gaze up at their sky-scraping employees. As they gambol at the feet of those titans I couldn’t help but wonder if, like Frodo, they yearn for the Shire. (I also watch The Rings of Power this week; you can largely tell the difference between the two franchises because in The Rings of Power the elves and orcs and such have fewer artificial body parts.)
Each week on Selling the OC the large employees of the Oppenheim twins go to the sorts of properties owned by Bond villains (one has a bedroom with a retractable roof) and try to sell them to Los Angeles sociopaths who have wine collections and tour the world “following the polo season”. All of these homes look like cruise ships, and all have the same view of the sea. They rarely have views inland, because then they’d have to look at the United States’ crumbling infrastructure and frayed social contract. I can imagine that this show is popular with people in the midst of a global housing crisis, because, like me, they’re compiling a list of people and places to visit when the revolution comes. Fewer of these properties than you might think have panic rooms or stashes of canned food.
Of the lofty employees I like Kayla best, because of the way she pronounces the word ‘agent’. In the first episode I hear her say ‘I’m not the most experienced real-estate eejit on the team, but I want to be the number-one real-estate eejit of the Oppenheim Group’
Each week these masters of capital sit in their big open-plan office discussing their interpersonal dramas until one of the Oppenheims gives an inspirational speech about productivity and endless churn and worldly toil. Sadly, because the Oppenheims have tiny voice boxes, their words can only be heard as an aspirational squeak. “Meep, meep, meep!” say the orating Oppenheims. Based on what I know about the surname, I think it means “I am become death, destroyer of worlds” — or maybe just “Sell more stolen land, you attractive pigs.”
Of the lofty employees I like Kayla best, because of the way she pronounces the word “agent”. In the first episode I hear her say “I’m not the most experienced real-estate eejit on the team, but I want to be the number-one real-estate eejit of the Oppenheim Group.” After rewinding and relistening several times, I eventually figure out that she is actually saying “eejent”, a wonderful portmanteau word that’s a useful descriptor for everyone on this programme.
Alex Hall is definitely an eejent. She is, like the rest of them, quite tall. She is, literally, a big eejent. She is an alpha female who her colleagues refer to at all times by her full name, “Alex Hall”, as though they’ve just become best friends with her in preschool or (most likely) she made everyone sign a contract insisting on brand consistency in all references. Alex Hall is usually the instigator when, in the midst of a working day, the conversation moves from immoral land hoarding to personal matters. At these points the eejent who is disclosing their pain will start to water from their eyes, possibly with emotion but also possibly because they’re leaking.
The eejent I have most in common with is Gio, who drives an orange Porsche and who has no top buttons on his shirts despite his apparent wealth. He goes on pedicure dates with his mother, which is quite touching and normal. (Mother, I will see you on Thursday at the usual salon; we can get someone else to look after our motel and its various peepholes.) He takes no guff. “I want to show everyone in the office that this is the level I play in and not to f**k with me,” he says, which is exactly what I said yesterday at my Irish Times employee review. He is, in the early episodes, selling a luxury home that has an interior “waterwall” that’s covered in foliage and has little water features flowing over it. Not to boast, but I once lived in a house in Dublin that also had a wet wall with things growing on it.
The office villains are a team of realtors who are both called Alexandra. The Alexandras don’t care that everyone hates them — and, compellingly, they have time for exactly two kinds of avian subspecies in their metaphors. “We’re both eagles,” explains one Alexandra to the other. “Eagles fly alone and birds fly in flocks. And they’re birds.” They also have time to know the name of one president of the United States. At one point they are selling a fancy property whose owner has a collection of pens, one of which was owned by Abraham Lincoln. “The first American president,” suggests an Alexandra.
In each episode of Selling the OC there’s a moment when one of the towering employees of the itsy-bitsy Oppenheims challenges another gigantic employee about their behaviour in front of all the other Brobdingnagian cast members. This is their love language. It is called “drama”, and, thanks to reality television, we are connoisseurs of such things. Usually, one person (Alex Hall or Kayla) accuses the other (Gio or an Alexandra) of doing something that would be easily verified by checking the footage. Nobody suggests going back to check the footage. In fact I’m pretty sure they don’t even know they’re being filmed. Instead the accused person denies what happened and everyone else joins in the hectoring. These bits of the programme remind me of show trials in the 1930s, except they’re not followed by a public confession and an execution. But give them time.
Whenever a new Selling [insert location] show airs, Irish people are all over it like a vulture fund over rental properties or a Fianna Fáil minister over housing-assistance payments
Some of you may be wary of watching Selling the OC. Yes, here in Ireland we’ve been suspicious of Americans getting involved in real estate since The Field. And yet whenever a new Selling [insert location] show airs, Irish people are all over it like a vulture fund over rental properties or a Fianna Fáil minister over housing-assistance payments. It’s confusing. It helps for me to get in the mood for televisual property speculation by imagining that the seller is a lonely widow and that, just out of shot, the Bull McCabe looms with a scowl and a bloody shillelagh. I would, it has to be said, pay good money to see John B Keane’s Selling the OC. How much? I don’t know. Does it come with a retractable roof and a waterwall?