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Following the global success of its first season, Selling Sunset returned to Netflix with eight all-new episodes on Friday, May 22, in its second season. Excitement levels couldn’t have been higher among fans as they eagerly awaited to see what lavish new properties hit the LA market, as well as what fresh drama had materialised in the lives of The Oppenheim Group’s workforce. And the new series certainly delivered with multi-million dollar properties, on-screen weddings and, of course, one or two rather heated rows. Express.co.uk exclusively caught up with Jason Oppenheim and Mary Fitzgerald to discuss the new series as well as what the future holds for the show and how the company is dealing with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
How are you guys, are you still being kept busy?
JASON: Well, we took a little vacation a bunch of us. We went to a house in Scottsdale, Arizona because the restaurants are still open so we’re just celebrating out here. But in terms of real estate, things have picked up a ton, we’re almost back to normal. We had about four or six weeks (which were) really slow, but the last 10 days have started to pick up a lot.
Are you back to work in California?
JASON: Yeah, yeah, yeah, we’re in the office every day. In fact, Mary tried to close an $8million today just on the phone 10 minutes ago or something.
MARY: Things are still moving, we just have to wear a mask and gloves.
JASON: We’re supposed to wear masks but you just sort of feel out your client and depending on how serious they are about things we respond in turn.
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How did you react when Netflix decided to renew the series?
JASON: I think we expected that. Season one was successful but, I will say, after watching season two (and) being a part of the filming, it was so much more enjoyable. We were so much more relaxed and alive and free in front of the cameras. For us, the stress of season one (and) not knowing what the show was going to be like, not knowing how we were going to come across- we were just more nervous and more reserved (but in season two) I think we’re just so much alive and funny and free and so much more ourselves. Which is why I think season two is better you know, there’s more drama, more everything.
Is the series true to life, is there anything you wished they showed more of?
JASON: I mean, I’m always someone who wants the show to be focussed exclusively on real estate, but if I were director on this show it would probably suck, nobody would watch it, so I understand why they like to have the women and get involved in their personal lives. I get that. The show – if I were directing it – would just be about houses and all these stupid details nobody cares about.
Mary, how did you feel about having your wedding on the show?
MARY: (I had) mixed feelings about it as we were going through it. There was a lot of stress involved, you know, the venue fell through, the first one fell through and then six weeks to the wedding day I basically had to re-plan a wedding that was TV worthy while working fulltime and filming and doing wedding planning. You can tell on the show how stressed I was…
JASON: I’ve known Mary 20 years and I have never seen her so stressed, it was stressful for everyone in her life.
Mary: Our families aren’t used to the drama from the girls. I didn’t know what was gonna happen, it was just kinda nerve-racking because I just didn’t know what would happen and if it was going to be embarrassing or beautiful, we just didn’t know. But it came off I think amazing, it was our dream wedding and we’re both very very pleased.
Obviously Davina was excluded from the wedding, how are you guys now?
MARY: Romaine still feels the same way. He’s a very stubborn guy but he has a right to feel that way. For me, we co-exist. I’ve no – well, kind of hard feelings (laughs). At the end of the day, we’re co-workers and she doesn’t really hang out with us. (It’s) Jason, me, Brett, Romain, Amanza, Chrishell, we all hang out a lot
JASON: Heather too.
MARY: Oh, Heather too, yeah, we hang out a lot. She just – we work with her and she’s fine in the office but we just don’t really hang out outside of work.
What’s it like as the owner of the company to see these tense relationships?
JASON: That’s a hard question to answer. It puts me in a difficult situation because obviously we’re not just co-workers, these are my best friends. So I find it often, it feels like a lose-lose situation for me. I don’t wanna take sides, I just try and avoid getting involved if I’m honest. I just feel like there’s no win for getting involved but if it starts to affect work, if it starts to interfere with the office dynamic, that’s when I obviously need to say something. Usually, just try to defuse it and remind everyone that the office is a professional environment. I don’t have a high tolerance for drama in the office, you know, outside the office everyone can do what they want but really if it doesn’t affect work, it’s life. It’s a dynamic that I’m trying to figure out because there’s no training or class that teaches you how to deal with your best friends and also the professional environment.
There seemed to be tension from the off when Amanza joined, do you worry about bringing new people into the working environment?
JASON: Yeah but that’s why I only bring in like my close friends that I really care about and trust like Amanza. However, to go back to your point, Amanza certainly has known me and Mary for a long time but not everybody in the office so I wish I could say that stuff was all for the camera but unfortunately all of that stuff is actually happening. There are little issues that do tend to arise, that’s when I try to stay out if it’s something that I think is just going to go away, I don’t get involved. But I guess, where you sit does sort of matter to people I guess, I get that. I didn’t expect her and Heather to get into it because Heather’s so chill and Amanza’s so chill, I would’ve expected them to get along but that was an initial hiccup no one ever saw.
Why do you think Heather and Amanza clashed?
JASON: I just think it was a misunderstanding. I don’t think Amanza had any ill will, I think she was just trying to express (herself). Amanza’s gone through it you know, Amanza has two kids so she understands that reality better than everybody and I think she was just trying to kind of teach Heather a little bit. But the bottom line is Heather was right – their [Heather and her boyfriend] relationship is serious. We didn’t know that at the beginning. We were like ‘okay, great. You guys are falling pretty hard pretty quickly so everyone’s naturally a bit concerned,’ but those two are like tighter than thieves. They’re probably gonna get married so you know, in the end, Heather knows what she’s what talking about. To be honest, at the beginning of that relationship, everyone was a bit concerned…
MARY: It happened very quickly and very hard, so we were all very concerned that there were kids involved and it was just out of the concern and out of love for the kids that Amanza said something. They were both right, like in a normal circumstance, you need to take that into consideration how quickly you’re introducing children but Heather was also right that this was a different situation and they were real, they were legit.
JASON: Yeah, she’s been a part of that family ever since. Like I said, it looks like they’re going all the way. He’s awesome, we all really like him too.
You weren’t too keen on Davina marketing an $80 million house…
JASON: Because it wasn’t an $80million house.
Was that the reason you were so against it?
JASON: Well, the reality was that I have curated a reputation for our brokerage of having high quality, well-priced listings. So when we put a property on the market it’s taken very seriously by the community, both the real estate community and buyers. It’s like ‘okay, Jason and his team have a property on the market, let’s go see it, it’s gonna sell’ so the idea of throwing a property on the market that’s not gonna sell, that’s not well-priced, (it) chips away at the reputation that has taken so long to build. I don’t want to be showing a property that’s $80million and have someone come up and say ‘wait, why did you price it at $80million?’ and be like ‘I don’t know’. So I don’t need that. If I’m not gonna sell the property, I don’t need the listing. I’m not a rookie agent trying to hustle overpriced listings anymore. I don’t need another notch on my belt, I need a sale.
So when a broker turns around and says ‘I’ll just do it myself’, what’s your reaction?
JASON: Well, 10 years ago I was starting out, you know, I remember a very similar situation where I partnered with a woman, Joyce Ray – ‘The Queen of Real Estate in LA’ – and I brought in this $30million house. I was over the moon I was so excited and she didn’t want the listing. She said it was one of the ugliest houses she’d ever seen, it was in an area that she didn’t even want to drive to, it was super stylised, it was way overpriced. And I thought ‘oh my god, I’m bringing her a $30million listing, she’s gonna be so excited and so happy and so proud of me’ and instead it was the opposite, she didn’t want the listing. It’s really just an understanding of where you are in the business. If you’re a rookie or a newer agent and you haven’t sold big homes and you wanna build a reputation and you want a huge house on the website, I get it, I totally get that draw, but I’m established, I don’t need another house on my website, I need to sell property so I think we were coming at it from different perspectives. And I’m not concerned about anybody leaving. I know what the Oppenheim Group brings to the table, I know the support that this job should supply to its agents, I don’t think anybody would be stupid enough to give up the big picture for one listing.
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In the trailer for season three, the girls discuss leaving again. Are they all still a part of the company?
JASON: I don’t really want to comment on season three other than to say that season three is awesome. It really is, I think season two is better than season one and I think season three is better than season two. Everyone’s just getting way more comfortable and open. I do sell the $45million (though)!
We see a glimpse of that in the trailer also, along with Christine’s wedding…
JASON: Oh my, God. That wedding. It was one of the most insane experiences of my life, that woman knows how to throw an event. Forget that engagement party, I’m telling you that wedding, I’ve never seen anything like it nor will I ever. It was indescribable. They had like a King and Queen’s throne and they were sitting on these like 10 feet chairs, it was a black and white theme, it was the coolest event experience that I’ve ever had in my life and probably ever will have, it was epic. I feel like I was in, like hell. Put it like this, it was like if the Devil threw a party. Andy hired like a really good party planner. Everyone was invited and I think everybody went.
Finally, the relationship between you and Mary comes into focus again, with some agents saying you give her preferential treatment. How do you respond to people who question your relationship having previously been together?
JASON: Yeah, my response is that I understand it’s an unusual dynamic and it’s not a usual dynamic for people to kind of comprehend. I know most people don’t get along with their exes. The truth is my three ex-girlfriends are three of the closest friends in my life right now, Mary being my best girl-friend. So I know that’s a little unusual – also, my ex-girlfriends are all best friends now so they all hang out, I know that’s also unusual as well. The way I see it is this, I think that this should be normal, what I don’t understand is, to be honest, is how people tell people they love that person and are together with that person and then break up and are no longer close, that to me seems awkward. I think remaining close friends with some that you told that you loved makes more sense than somehow not liking that person. I don’t understand how for months and years you tell someone you love them and then they’re out of your lives, that doesn’t make much sense to me. Here’s the other thing too, none of us – I’ve never done anything to disrespect anyone and neither has anyone done anything to disrespect me, so at the end of the day when it didn’t work out it wasn’t because anybody cheated, it wasn’t because somebody did something disrespectful, it just came to the point where the relationship wasn’t going to go any further and we just broke up. It seems natural and normal to me to be close with an ex but I’ve been told it’s not.
Well, other people’s opinions certainly haven’t come between you two…
JASON: No! Nor would it ever. I don’t give a s**t, quite honestly. People’s opinions are not going to dictate what makes me happy.
Selling Sunset season 2 is available to stream on Netflix now.
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