Mild spoilers for Selling Sunset Season 7 ahead. I haven't always been a reality television girlie. When everyone else my age was watching Keeping Up With The Kardashians or Laguna Beach, I was watching Gossip Girl and The OC.
But in an age when streaming services are releasing new, easy-watch reality shows on an almost weekly basis, it can be tempting to fall into the trap of mindlessly bingeing whatever new show the algorithm is serving up. And this week, for me, that's Season 7 of the glitzy and glamourous Netflix real-estate show, Selling Sunset.
But unlike previous times I've watched the show, the insults hit differently this season. I am highly aware that reality television shows survive on drama, and are hardly shining examples of normal social decorum. Historically, we've seen everything from glass smashing (Lisa Rinna on RHOBH) to wine throwing (MAFS Australia), and so much more.
Yet, upon watching this season's iteration of Selling Sunset, I was particularly struck by one form of drama that permeated the show: insults based on physical appearance.
It started in episode one, during a disagreement between Nicole and Emma, when they're discussing the unrelated topic of Nicole calling Emma a "social climber". As the conversation escalated, other agents from The O Group became involved and while the discussion seemed to be a convoluted mess of petty comments, there was one comment in particular that struck a chord with me.
Let me set the scene. Nicole and Chrishell begin talking about each other's respective careers, and Chrishell claims that she makes more in five minutes than Nicole could make in five years. "Yes, all from Instagram. That's so cute. That's going to be around for a long time," Nicole retorts sarcastically, before explaining she was working on a career with more longevity.
Inexplicably, Chrishell responds by saying, "Okay, you rearranged your whole face. You got everything done," digging at Nicole's physical appearance.
Of course, the physical insults don't stop there. In the finale episode, Bre has an altercation with newcomer Cassandra. The pair discuss Bre's defensiveness and lack of friendliness, which ultimately leads Bre to walk away from the conversation. Then, upon leaving the event, Bre is recorded saying: "Get your hair conditioned Cassandra and get your split ends cut, and maybe some fucking eyelashes, you basic bitch."
There are plenty of other scathing insults made throughout the show, but there is something particularly below-the-belt about insulting somebody's physical appearance.
This is only exacerbated by the fact that the show itself depicts an incredibly specific, stylised version of how women look in the workplace. From being drenched in designer labels to having a full face of glamorous makeup, there's no denying the agents at The O Group have a very glossy, and often unobtainable, office uniform.
There is no doubt that there would be an unspoken pressure placed upon the cast of Selling Sunset to look and dress a certain way in order to not only be a part of the televised cast but to feel secure in doing so. The fact that the women often use these points to insult each other only solidifies this notion.
Should Cassandra have to wear fake eyelashes to be considered worthy of working at The O Group? Absolutely not.
And even if Nicole did choose to get cosmetic work done to feel like she could become a part of the on-screen cast (she previously worked for The O Group but was not one of the agents featured on TV); doesn't that just prove how intimidating their work environment might be?
While I'm not going to pretend this is an average workplace, these issues certainly point to a huge problem within company culture. Employees' worth should be assessed (and welcomed) based on the quality of their work, not their propensity to fit into the aesthetic of the office. It feels childish, unfair and reminiscent of schoolyard bullying tactics.
For a show that was once about selling houses, these women certainly put a lot of focus on physical appearance. It's never okay to tear someone else down based on their physical appearance, regardless of how you feel about them as a person. In my opinion, the show would be far more enjoyable if the agents kept their priorities on the glamorous mansions and healthier friendship dynamics, and left comments about personal appearance at the door.