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'Million Dollar Listing: San Francisco' Celebrates Everything You Probably Hate About the City

But also lots of things you probably love.

Roh Habibi is going places. As we watch.

 

Million Dollar Listing: San Francisco is a funny, lively, easy-on-the eyes look at three local boys making good on the American dream right here in our beautiful city. Also, Million Dollar Listing: San Francisco is a nihilistic indulgence in the diabolical economic powers overrunning us all and smothering the future of our desperate, embattled soul and culture.

We’re feeling a little conflicted about this one, in case you can’t tell.

The show, which we previewed last night at the Googleplex in Mountain View and premieres on Bravo July 8, chronicles the adventures of three real, hightly photogenic realtors competing to close bigger and bigger home sales in the Bay Area's trendiest neighborhoods. We see them pursue evasive buyers and disarm the meddling of big-money sellers while also learning who they are and what they want out of life. TV audiences will love it just as much as they do the other programs in the Million Dollar Listing suite of shows (set in LA, New York, and Miami), provided you don’t consider the market portrayed to be a terrifying dragon carrying away everything you love.

For those people, it gets a little awkward.

This show loves the tech boom, loves the housing boom, loves the Bay Area’s one percent, and isn’t shy about it. If you do too, great. If not, strap in. As viewers, we’re meant to root for the realtors to push these prices ever higher, until they can almost touch the sun. But for a lot of us, it’s impossible to get through the series opener without feeling a terrifying spinning sensation as the price of a Noe Valley house climbs by hundreds of thousands of dollars in the space of a few seconds, before our horrified eyes. For anyone even mildly pinched by the apocalyptic leaps in the cost of living around here, it’s like a front row seat to your own wake.

On the other hand, none of that is the fault of the show or the three men at the heart of it: Justin Fichelson, Roh Habibi, and Andrew Greenwell. All three are locals with sympathetic and inspiring life stories. Fichelson was born and raised in San Francisco, which he believes is one of the reasons he was cast. Habibi’s family fled war-torn Afghanistan while he was a child, and he looks on his financial success as a validation of their sacrifices. Greenwell grew up in a politically conservative Florida town and came to San Francisco in part for the freedom of our open, gay-friendly culture (tale as old as time).

We don’t mind seeing these guys get the Glengarry leads. More power to them. It’s just, you know, a little existentially harrowing if you think too hard about it. We’re guessing this isn’t the first time it’s come up, because at the preview all three were pretty quick off the block on the subject.

“I remember Dolores Park when I was a kid: needles and drug dealers everywhere,” says Fichelson. “It’s a nicer place now because of the things happening in the city. Everyone complaining is more than happy to appreciate those improvements."

True. Unless they’re no longer living here to appreciate them. Greenwell jumps in: “Cities change. There’s no stopping it. That has nothing to do with us or this show.”

Fair point. “There are plenty of great communities in the Bay Area that aren’t that far away,” Habibi adds (he himself moved to Hayward a while back). “San Francisco is a small place, only seven miles on a side. Go 25 minutes in any direction on BART and the situation changes for you, but you’ll only be a little ways away.”

We get it: They’re just normal guys who want families and homes of their own and worked hard enough to be here when this blizzard of cash hit their industry. And the show, though as fluffy and disposable as any 50 minutes of reality TV ever to stream into your eyeballs, is cheeky and easily bingeable and sure does make the Bay Area look like a billion bucks (upgraded from a million to adjust for inflation). We like it.

It’s just…dear God, everything costs seven figures, and the city is getting whiter, and we’re still not over the Lexington closing and even the mummy house is selling for 900 grand, and are the walls closing in on us? We’re pretty sure the walls are actually, physically closing in on us right now, and we can’t breathe, there is no breathing going on right now, at all.

But we’re fine. We’re a strong community and we can all get through this. Markets are going to do their thing no matter what. A little indulgence might actually be good catharsis.

If not, breathe into this bag.
 

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Email Adam L. Brinklow at tamlinearthly@gmail.com
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Follow Adam L. Brinklow on Twitter @AdamLBrinklow