This story discusses plot points from season 2 of Selling Sunset, now available for streaming on Netflix.
Actress Chrishell Stause made the jump from soap operas to reality television in 2019, when she starred in the debut season of Netflix's original series Selling Sunset. The show, a brainchild of The Hills creator Adam DiVello, brilliantly fused the glitz and glamour of the real-estate world with the drama of Los Angeles, blessing Netflix with its very first docu-soap. After a year off-air, Selling Sunset has returned for a dramatic second season, closing with a series of events so personally tumultuous for Stause that she may understandably have to take a break from watching herself on TV for awhile.
Season two of Selling Sunset, filmed last year, opens with a new and improved Stause. Though her first year at The Oppenheim Group was marked by having to prove herself over and over again to her bosses and co-workers alike (mainly to the office's resident fashionista/hard-ass Christine Quinn), the reality star shows up with a totally different perspective in its second installment, focused on forging her own path as a real estate agent.
"I wasn't one hundred percent sure what I was signing up for when I started, so it was a bit of a learning process," Stause admitted in a phone conversation with Refinery29. "But in season two, I felt like I'd earned my place in the group."
"I was more confident with my decisions," she continued. "And I found it easier to stick up for myself."
The new energy and confidence manifests itself in a number of clear ways in Stause's work life: establishing her boundaries, leaning into the relationships that are positive, and not taking shit from anyone. Episode after episode, Stause makes sure to do what serves her, even if it ruffles a few feathers along the way.
But for viewers watching at home, some of Stause's brightest moments (such as her tense but mature boundary-setting conversation with Quinn, or finally getting bosses Jason and Brett to see the value of real estate in the Valley) are darkened by our knowledge of the major personal blow she's about to face on the show. As the star glows with happiness on-screen while talking about her marriage to This Is Us actor Justin Hartley, our hearts drop because we know something she doesn't.
In November 2019, Hartley filed for divorce. Stause was heartbroken by the sudden decision, even more so because she knew that the consequences of her breakup would inevitably play out on television, since Selling Sunset still had an entire month left of shooting. The final moments of season two's final episode offer a heartbreaking glimpse of what is to come on the series: the slow unravelling of Stause's life as she knows it.
"I'm just kind of in shock with it all," Stause says between sobs in the emotionally-charged teaser. "It's just a lot all at once because the whole world knows...I just love him so much."
Months removed from the initial shock of her divorce, Stause seems as well-adjusted as anyone would be after a public separation. But she's also terrified about having to relive that devastating moment again and have her breakup be a topic of discussion on the internet.
"It was a really personally painful time," Stause revealed. "So, I'm not going to watch and will probably have to go off-grid for awhile and maybe reemerge much later. I'm super proud of the show and everything we've accomplished, but that part of it...I'm not looking forward to that whatsoever."
"I'm dreading it," she laughed nervously over the phone. "I was really caught off-guard, and I wished that that hadn't been the timing that was chosen. It's unfortunate."
The timing of the bombshell really couldn't have been worse, especially since love was in full bloom for many of Stause's co-workers; Heather Young had found romance with fellow real estate agent Tarek El Moussa, Mary Fitzgerald was happily married, and Quinn was getting ready to take her own trip down the aisle.
Celebrating successful relationships was difficult for the actress given her circumstances at the time, but she credits therapy and quality time with the people closest with her (including some of her Selling Sunset castmates) for helping get to a better space emotionally. The connections that you see on the show are genuine — and Stause says that anyone suggesting otherwise is simply "projecting" their feelings about their own bad behaviour.
"Some of us [on the show] are true friends, whether the cameras are on or not," she affirmed. "And some of us are just co-workers, so obviously that dynamic is going to be very different."
Despite the events of the last year, Stause is doing just fine these days. No one knows better than she does that life is a mix of highs and lows, and she's taking everything that comes her way in stride. It won't be easy, and it may hurt at times, but the reality star knows that those moments come with the territory. She's fully prepared for whatever may come her way.
"If I can do what I love and have viewers follow us along the way and have a successful whole second career, then I just have to take the good with the bad, " Stause concluded cheerfully. "At the end of the day, I'm very confident in the fact that I'm a good person. I try to always do the best I can, and when I fail, I try and learn from it — hopefully that comes across on the show."
Catch up with Stause and the rest of the Oppenheim Group by tuning into season two of Selling Sunset, now available on Netflix.