On 'Selling Tampa' the women are funnier and the houses are uglier
When I first heard they were making a spinoff of Selling Sunset called Selling Tampa, I thought “what?” Because Selling Sunset is about luxurious mansions in Hollywood that are between $3 million and $100 million, and I didn’t think that kind of real estate was possible in Tampa, Florida, a city I only know for having some sports teams and a good newspaper. It turns out they aren’t selling $40 million houses in Tampa. I actually don’t think they showed anyone selling a house the whole season.
But everything about Florida is more interesting to me than Los Angeles. I love Selling Sunset because of its accidental weirdness – two little buff twins in charge, drama about a dog birthday party, a botox party at a house showing. But Florida is just straight up weird. We all know this, I don’t think I need to explain. It’s a swamp state with loose alligators and unique subcultures and strip malls. One of the home buyers on Selling Tampa is a former Playboy bunny who made a fortune selling bras on QVC and then named her house after her bras.
In LA reality shows, everyone is trying to be cool, skinny, and blonde. All the houses on Sunset are modern minimalism with all-white kitchens and gray furniture and tables that look like rocks and some sort of hideous abstract light fixture. They’re technically beautiful, but very boring houses that feel cold. What I love about the houses on Selling Tampa, a show that’s even less about real estate than its sister show, is that the houses are ugly. Just total gaudy Florida decor. Overstuffed couches, too many chandeliers, that horrible Tuscan-inspired decor from the early 2000s. The only thing the houses in Florida have going for them over the houses in California is the views, which are almost always of water. In LA, they always say “the views are amazing” and the view is that of a smog-covered skyline. In Tampa, they say “amazing view” and the house is one foot away from water.
Almost immediately, the cast of Selling Tampa brings more to the table than Sunset. As much as I love seeing Chrishell talk about her charity work or Mary complain about Romain (actually I just love Romain), the cast of Tampa are just better reality stars. Aside from location, the most obvious difference about Tampa is that it’s an all-Black, all-woman real estate agency (at least for the purposes of the show–on.) The agency is run by Sharelle, who used to be in the military and is married to Chad Ochocinco Johnson, a man she herself describes as having “85 kids” (he has 8). She also has a kid named Denim. In the first or second episode, she takes a day off because her mom’s house burns down. She has a scary vibe of someone who could start a cult, or an MLM. And that’s just one cast member!
My favorite is Tenille, who, when asked if her boyfriend of five years would propose soon, said “I hope not.” When she brings a baseball bat to a Beyonce-themed party, someone says “I don’t think that’s the first time she’s brought a baseball bat to a party.” I like Rena, who seems like the oldest and smartest of the bunch, and the only one who questions a pretty severe pay cut (the others are like “no we have loyalty to our boss” and I’m like “you need a union.”)
What I also love on this show is that people actually eat and drink. I don’t know if I’ve seen anyone on Selling Sunset take an actual bite of food. Heather, who loves talking about being vegan, once said “I don’t get hungry.” (I don’t like to talk about peoples’ weights but it does bum me out to watch some of the Sunset cast members get skinnier as the seasons go on.) But on Tampa, the women are always going to fancy lunches at restaurants where they order strawberry margaritas and flaming mojitos. One girl is chastised by her colleagues for considering baked chicken instead of fried chicken. They go to a fancy Mexican restaurant where they’re served raw fish and crickets, and even though the women are weirded out, they still try everything. Last night I watched the Barbra Streisand movie The Mirror Has Two Faces where her character, Rose, has a signature trait of poking her fork around her plate to create a perfect bite. That’s the kind of stuff I’m into.
I wouldn’t expect anyone on Selling Tampa to mention the climate crisis because it’s a reality show and that’s not their job, but I kept thinking about the Sarah Miller essay where she went to Florida and pretended to be looking for a house to buy to see how realtors handled the inevitable rising waters which will permanently alter Florida as we know it. One of the realtors told her, about the rising sea level, “it’s being figured out, and we shouldn’t be concerned. Unless you have a family, and you’re planning on staying here.”
Luckily the people on Selling Tampa are so rich that they don’t have to worry about flooding, because even when the floods come, they can just move to higher ground and the higher ground will have better views. Maybe Adam DiVello can make a show about that too, Fleeing Tampa.