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Netflix’s ‘Selling the OC” & the Angry Black Woman Trope

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Stony Brook chapter.

The second season of Netflix’s “Selling the OC” premiered Sept 8, following up with way more drama than the previous season. The reality show follows real estate agents working for the Oppenheim Real Estate office in Orange County, California. The show is a spin-off of “Selling Sunset,” which has the same premise but is based in Los Angeles. 

While navigating through the plethora of drama, the agents are trying to sell homes worth millions of dollars. 

I would consider myself somewhat of a fan of the show. The fancy outfits, the gossip, the fights it’s all entertaining to me. However, as I watched this season, I found myself disappointed with the narrative. 

One of, if not the main storyline, was about one of the agents, Tyler Stanaland, and his divorce from “Pitch Perfect” actress Brittany Snow after two years of marriage. The couple announced their separation via Instagram in Sept. 2022. There were rumors of infidelity on Tyler’s end, however none were confirmed. 

In the first episode of season two titled “Back on the Market,” we see Tyler meeting with another agent, Alex Hall. They seemed to have become closer after Tyler’s divorce, Tyler claiming he’s leaned on her for support because Alex has been through a divorce herself. There is some slight flirting between the two and you can see there is some chemistry but nothing substantial yet. Next, the show cuts to the office with other coworkers and it seems like even the rest of the office is aware of the flirtatious relationship between Alex and Tyler with one joking “At this rate Tyler and Hall will have a baby before I do.” 

Then it shows three of the agents catching up with coffee at a restaurant. We see Polly Brindle, Brandi Marshall, and Lauren Shortt talking about how everyone is so busy with sales and trying to keep up. We learn that Brandi’s mother passed away recently and that she is still grieving, but is using her mother as a driving force for her to keep going forward and doing her best. Brandi’s goal is to provide generational wealth for her children so they can have what she didn’t when she was growing up and she wants nothing to get in the way of her hard work. During a conversation with Polly, Tyler’s divorce gets brought up, and it seems that Polly and Lauren are all for Alex and Tyler getting into a relationship. However, Brandi disagrees because of the way it looks to the outside world and that it can cause some tarnish to the reputation of the office. Polly insists that Tyler is single and can do what he wants, while Brandi argues that his divorce isn’t finalized yet and it seems messy. Causing her to say, “Is the ink even dry on the divorce yet?” After the conversation, it seemed like it was just a group of friends sharing opinions. 

Later in the episode, in the office, Polly tells Tyler what Brandi said, making it seem like Brandi spoke about Tyler and Alex with negative intent. When Tyler confronts Brandi she sticks to her opinion, which is her right. Alex then gets involved calling Brandi judgemental and saying that whatever she and Tyler do is their right. Then more people essentially gang up on Brandi for sharing her opinion and the episode ends with Brandi crying and Alex hugging her off-camera. All Brandi did was what everyone else was doing and she was essentially reprimanded for it. Brandi is the only Black woman and got unfairly talked down to by her White coworkers. 

In episode six, titled “Rough Waters” the agents in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico for a work trip with the office to look at the new office location and potential homes to sell. After dinner, all the agents meet at the bar for drinks. Brandi is visibly uncomfortable because of the tension between Alex and Tyler. Alex offers Brandi a drink, which Brandi politely turns down because she says she is done for the night. Shortly after that interaction, Alex gets into a verbal altercation with fellow agent, Kayla Cardona. Brandi not liking what’s going on tells Alex that she doesn’t like the way Alex speaks to people. Alex responds by arguing with Brandi. Brandi says “Don’t put your hands in my face, I don’t like when you speak down to me.” After Brandi clearly said that she didn’t like it, Alex continued to move her hands around while speaking and Brandi responded by moving closer to Alex, showing how angry Alex’s actions were making her. Alex and Brandi were face to face and Alex then said, “What are you going to swing?” As I was watching this I thought to myself, “Yes, because when a Black woman is angry at you, her initial thought is violence, after your constant disrespect.”

After Brandi leaves her argument with Alex, Alex then tells her co-workers “I thought she was going to hit me,” while crying with Tyler comforting her. It just seemed so fake and manipulative. For years, Black women have been made to bottle up their emotions toward a clear disrespect of their boundaries to coddle white women and their tears. Another agent, Austin Victoria, a white man, called Brandi “crazy.” Alex and her tears won over the room, thus portraying Brandi as some negative person again.   

Throughout the eight-episode season, every single agent in the office has had an opinion on Alex and Tyler with most of them being in favor of them being together Tyler has no issue with the other agents discussing his life but when Brandi, the only Black woman in the office shares a different opinion Tyler sees her as rude and dramatic. 

For years in literature, film, TV, or just general life, Black women have been stereotyped as “angry” or “emotional” for simply sharing their opinions or just speaking. The entire season Brandi is portrayed as this “hater” of Tyler and Alex’s “relationship” or whatever they have going on. When in reality she is concerned about the reputation of the business she is employed by. If the place you work for is known for something negative, there are going to be some negative assumptions about the employee. Which would be damaging to Brandi and the hard work she’s doing to provide for her family. 

I understand that most reality shows have dramatic storylines to increase viewers and make them seem more entertaining. And with that, there is often a “villain” of the season. My question is, why does the villain of the season have to be the only person of color on the show? The show makes Brandi seem like the “angry Black woman” just for having boundaries and knowing what she thinks is right and wrong. How is continuing with harmful stereotypes against Black women making reality television more entertaining? 

After this season, I’m not sure if I want to continue watching. I hope Netflix will change the narrative going forward because the way Black women are portrayed in media needs to be changed drastically. 

Hi!, I'm Ni'yah-Marie, a junior Journalism major with a minor in Film and Screen at Stony Brook University. I'm a big fan of analyzing writing, movies, books, and music. I love expressing my ideas in the most creative way possible.