New York, Paris, LA, Shanghai, London…Sydney? Amazon Prime Video’s new Aussie reality show portrays Sydney as a hub of glamour and opulence.
Luxe Listings follows in the footsteps of other high glamour, high dollar real estate programs – but rather than the Hills of LA or the penthouses of Manhattan, Luxe Listings showcases the stunning views, exxy prices and stressful auctions of Sydney.
To put it simply: it’s home grown house porn.
Luxe Listings integrates the houses themselves with that reality tv staple: a really good cast. Taking centre stage are real estate agents D’Leanne Lewis of Laing + Simmons and Gavin Rubenstein of the Rubin Stein, as well as buyer’s agent Simon Cohen of Cohen Sandler Sydney.
Speaking to B&T from one of the houses featured in the program (aka ‘The Greek Embassy’), there was a consensus among the three that the key factor encouraging them to take part in the program was eachother.
“I really am not made for TV. I don’t like seeing myself,” said Lewis.
“But I knew that Gavin and Simon were doing it, and I thought it would be a bit of fun. It’s good in life to stretch ourselves.”
“I think once I realized that the boys were on the show, that Amazon Prime was doing it…I really couldn’t say no. And it’s a beautiful way to showcase one of the most beautiful cities in the world.”
“From an early stage in my career, I identified that exposure was a very important facet of being a real estate agent, being a real estate practitioner. The more people that know your name the better – obviously, for the right reasons. I always kind of knew that an opportunity like this would be presented. And when the right one came along, which this one was, I wanted to capitalize.”
“I think the reason the three of us did it is because the three of us are doing it, if that makes sense,” added Cohen. “I think we were all aligned on that. None of us would do it without each other.”
CJ Yu, Amazon Studios’ head of unscripted formats, global development agreed with that assertion in a seperate interview.
“What separated the show out was the cast, right?” he explained.
“When we set out to do a show in a city like Sydney, especially in the real estate market, what you want to do is make sure that you have the best and most compelling characters in that market. When we saw the initial casting tapes for these individuals, we knew that there was gold here.”
“You have a lot of shows based in Los Angeles, a lot of shows based in New York, even London, but for some reason, Sydney has never got to play a part in on that stage. And for us, we saw it as an immediate opportunity to really showcase the best characters we found in this market, married with the glorious backdrop of Sydney.”
Central to the show – and what seperates it from other real estate programs – are the unique qualities of Sydney.
“Sydney comes to life as the fourth character in the show,” said Yu.
“As an American, I can say that there is a global fascination with Sydney and Australia in general, for people living outside of Australia. It is a bucket list, once in a lifetime opportunity to travel here. And what’s funny to me is that, working here on this project about a year and a half ago, I heard a lot of feedback from crew members, producers, local colleagues here and there [that] for whatever reason, people have this mentality [from] 20 years ago, [where] everyone knew about Australia from Crocodile Dundee.”
“They felt that there’s been nothing on TV that’s ever represented the cosmopolitan world class city that they have here in Sydney – and people will fall head over heels for it.”
This sentiment was front and centre for the cast, too. In Cohen’s words, “I think aesthetically, Sydney’s the sexiest city in the world. I think this is shown on this program, without question.”
Amazon Prime Video recently announced a massive investment into Australian programs, one that seems to have no sign of slowing. Luxe Listings has already been renewed for a second season.
Yu points out that Amazon Prime Video has 240 markets across the world, which Australian programs like Luxe Listings can make an impact in.
“First and foremost, we’re really excited to bring a show that’s really going to make our Australian customers proud of how one of their most glorious cities is represented on the global stage. But with this being an English speaking show, obviously, it’s going to travel. We hope it’ll travel to English speaking countries and other countries worldwide.”
And, for the cast, the show was an opportunity to showcase the ins and outs of the Australian property market.
Lewis explained that, “you get the highs and the lows. We are very different people, all three of us – I think that’s what makes it work.”
“You get that fierce sense of competition because we’re naturally competitive. That’s how we live our lives.”
That competitive spirit is at the core of the show’s dynamic.
“I think it’s the perfect combination of the three of us being able to get along really well and having a laugh. I also think it’s a combination of the three of us being fiercely competitive against each other,” added Cohen.
“It’s [also] the three of us having three very different lives. And so you combine those three different things and you do get a great outcome [which is] what you see on the show.”
One of the through-narratives of the show is Lewis’s frank discussion of the sexism she experienced as a young woman, an important element of how the program showcases the real estate industry.
“It was really quite misogynistic, and I had to work, [not] two, three times as hard but 10 times as hard to show that I was capable. Not only because I was a female, because I was a young female as well. People didn’t take me seriously, because of my age and of my gender.”
“I think that over the years, I realized that the only way people would take note would be from my results. So I didn’t want the discussion to be about my gender, or my hair or my clothes. I wanted the discussion to be about my results. And I still firmly believe that today”
This is one of the elements that separates Luxe Listings from other real estate programs: a willingness to tackle areas unexplored by similar shows. That comes from the more serious discussions of misogyny, as well as from the unique peculiarities of Sydney itself.
Yu explained that auctions are quite a uniquely Australian innovation, and something he feels will be particularly interesting for international viewers. This was part of the reason to not only include sellers, but also a buyer’s agent like Cohen amongst the cast.
“We want to tell all facets of the story,” he said.
The cast’s excitement at the show was palpable. Ultimately – as put by Cohen, with a laugh – Luxe Listings has “the hottest, most exciting cast coupled with the hottest, most exciting property market in the world!”
Luxe Listings Sydney launched on Amzon Prime Video on July 9th and season two is currently in production, with a release date of 2022.
Featured Image: L-R D’Leanne Lewis, Simon Cohen, Gavin Rubinstein
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