Buying London on Netflix review: Gossip! Intrigue! Infighting! Selling Sunset comes to the capital

Buying London on Netflix review: Gossip! Intrigue! Infighting! Selling Sunset comes to the capital

When the first season of Selling Sunset aired in 2019, it was perfect escapist TV. “They could NEVER do something like this in London!” I muttered, enthralled by the sunshine-filled LA mansions and the fashion-forward cast swishing their hair extensions as they held plastic surgery-themed parties for fellow brokers.

London’s estate agents, by contrast, are a fairly tame bunch with their M&S suits and receding hairlines, and the weather decidedly un-Californian. How wrong I was. Buying London shows the Netflix formula can indeed translate across the pond.

Instead of the Oppenheim Group, we have DDRE Global, while London’s prime property neighbourhoods (Kensington and Chelsea, Belgravia, Mayfair in the centre, with St John’s Wood and Highgate to the north) go toe-to-toe with the Hollywood Hills and the Sunset Strip. It’s trite to call London a character, but as backdrop she’s looking fabulous in the B-roll.

We might not have McMansions but London still has mega-mansions that can stage a good tracking shot. Each marble-clad surface and chandelier sparkles under the lights and cameras of the high production values of a Netflix-backed team.

I was furiously noting the details for each property displayed on the chyron before my eyes popped at the opulence of it all. Yes, there is a crushing housing and rental crisis in London, but I could feel the socialism temporarily leaving my body with every shot of a lavish walk-in wardrobe.

It helps that Daniel Daggers had already assembled a team of camera-ready agents operating under a more American-style individualistic broker model.

DDRE Global was founded in 2020, and pioneers an emerging mode of business where agents build personal brands as property influencers on social media to attract clients and advertise their listings. It’s anathema to the old guard of legacy estate agents, but it seems to be getting results for Daggers and co.

The show could have done with a bit more inside baseball on London’s super prime market. Early in the season we follow Reme Nicole, aged just 21, on her first solo valuation. We know it’s a huge career moment for her, but the show doesn’t bother with the details of how she came to a big juicy number. But as a property journalist, maybe that’s just me.

The audience is here for the gossip! The intrigue! The in-fighting! The drama! Netflix has this formula nailed down and Buying London doesn’t deviate from the Selling Sunset beats.

Attractive cast members show up to good-looking locations in various configurations and immediately recap the latest drama. Then reiterate, to each other and to camera, that they are not here for the drama, they are here to work.

Under the direction of the unseen but implied directors, they take turns to be the assigned gleeful pot-stirrer for the day, cooking up tasty plotlines that elevate run-of-the-mill workplace fuss to three-episode-arc proportions.

Daniel Daggers (Netflix/PA Wire)
Daniel Daggers (Netflix/PA Wire)

Someone has a crush on a colleague, another pair of workmates aren’t getting along. There’s a whole scene dedicated to the appropriateness of an extra-marital devil emoji usage.

On the page that sounds anti-climatic, but this is why reality TV is so popular. It elevates the everyday experience of having housemates, a family, a job, a crush to epic proportions that look as dramatic on-screen as they feel inside.

Buying London is a workplace drama. I’m obsessed with the tension between Lauren Christy, a smooth-operating South African whose ability to wind others up marks out a woman raised with brothers, and Rasa Bagdonaviciute, a Lithuanian newbie whose keen sense of injustice gets her into hot water for being too confrontational. If you’re conflict-avoidant, there will be scenes that have you watching through your fingers and pleading for an HR mediation.

Daggers gets his own tense exchanges with sometime-friend, sometime foe Alex Bourne, where the banter belies the fragile egos that are at play.

The UK property industry still has a whopping gender pay gap and men occupy the majority of top jobs, so without getting too hashtag girl boss about it all, it’s good to see women in property getting the most screen time.

Behind moments of pastry-based snubs and double-crossing, it asks some big questions without painting anyone as a pantomime villain (there’s no Selling Sunset-level Christine Quin here to terrorise her colleagues).

How do you deal with being undermined at work professionally without compromising your values? Should you be be besties with your boss and throw your fellow workers under the bus? The socialism re-enters my body here.

Property shows have popular for ages, but Selling Sunset proved that the reality TV format could make the agents the focal point. In doing so it became the second-most watched Netflix show across the whole world. Will the Buying London cast get as famous as them? Would they want to? Heavy is the head that wears the influencer crown.

One of the agents, Rosi Walden, has been on Made in Chelsea previously and is clearly comfortable with giving as much as she wants to the camera without getting drawn into disputes. Oli Hamilton (and his wife!) must be rock solid to bring their marriage into the spotlight.

There’s no bombshell on the level of Chrishell Stause getting dumped by Justin Hartley — via text! — or Quin throwing a Phantom of the Opera themed wedding. But all that didn’t happen until Season 3 of Selling Sunset. Lets see if Londoners buy Buying London enough to get us more seasons to feed the gossip machine.