Watch out! This post contains spoilers.
Reality shows are always packed with drama, and with that drama comes villains. I don’t mean these people are necessarily villains in real life; reality shows are highly constructed narratives where castmembers often don’t have control over how they come across. But the villain is a reality-TV archetype. And in season seven of “Selling Sunset,” which premiered Nov. 3 on Netflix, the villain is clearly Jason Oppenheim.
For most of the series, Jason and his twin brother, Brett, the heads of The Oppenheim Group, have been background figures. They swoop in to comment on business deals and interpersonal conflicts or to show off a fancy house. But that started to change when Jason dated Chrishell Stause, one of The O Group’s employees, in 2021. And then it got worse when the pair broke up at the end of season five. In season six, which premiered earlier this year, realtor and The O Group employee Nicole Young — also one of Jason’s exes — accuses Stause of only succeeding in real estate because Jason had a crush on her (even though Stause was married to someone else when she first joined the company). This was infuriating to watch, because if that’s true, Young is accusing Jason of wrongdoing, not Stause. Instead, this got turned into a petty fight that never made any sense. Jason, meanwhile, never actually faced the accusation, and no one defended Stause against this strange shaming.
Which brings us to season seven. Jason constantly claims he wants all the realtors to get along — and then goes out of his way to cause fights. Knowing the lingering issues between Young and Stause, he asks Young to pitch in on Stause’s listing while the latter has surgery. When Bre Tiesi raises issues that she’s having with Chelsea Lazkani, Jason basically just says he’s surprised to hear about it and doesn’t take any actual steps to resolve the conflict. And when his then-girlfriend, Marie-Lou Nürk, tells him she doesn’t feel welcomed by Stause, instead of handling the conflict like an adult, he asks Stause to follow Nürk on Instagram. When Nürk calls Jason in the middle of an argument with Stause that he’s to blame for, he just asks her over and over to hang up and leave him alone.
She shouldn’t hang up. All of this is Jason’s mess. He insists on his exes being not just his friends but also his employees — which would surely constitute an HR violation in other workplaces. And when the threads Jason has planted explode into fights, he just begs the realtors to please all get along and remember The O Group is a “family.” That’s toxic workplace 101. Even when Stause tries to physically separate herself from the fighting, that boundary is a problem for him, too.
Jason is a terrible boss. His ability to manage fights is nonexistent. I know some viewers might argue that The O Group we see on “Selling Sunset” is a highly dramatized version of their jobs for our entertainment, but the entertainment value of this is waning. Because Jason is the boss, he has a position of power over everyone else where basically none of them can challenge him. The closest we get is when Brett chides him for his decisions about a new office (and in the finale, he tells his brother he was wrong). Instead, Jason gets to be downright diabolical, and no one ever calls him out on it because of his place in their social hierarchy — a mix of boss and friend that makes him immune to criticism.
Near the end of the season, I wanted to cheer when Stause finally starts to name the workplace as toxic. But unsurprisingly, that makes her the enemy, because she is disrupting the “family” by protecting her own mental health. As we look forward to the show’s reunion, I hope Jason finally starts to take accountability for the dynamics he’s created. But I’m not holding my breath.
Season seven of “Selling Sunset” is streaming now on Netflix. The season seven reunion premieres Nov. 15.