If real estate listings are the new pornography, then ``Million Dollar Listing" should be rated triple-X.
Mind you, this new Bravo reality series does stuff a bit of a plot in between its explicit homes-with-views action, just to warm things up. It's cast with a crew of Malibu and Hollywood realtors who sweet-talk one another and kiss-kiss their wealthy clients. But we know that all along they're just dying to show their goods, finalize their sales, make their commissions.
In tonight's premiere at 9, we meet Shannon McLeod, an agent helping her ex-fiance, Jeff, sell his spectacular bachelor pad in the Hollywood Hills. A Southerner whose hair defies the brightness button, she plans an early-evening open house with champagne, but -- oops -- she fails to advertise it. Let's call the movie ``Home Alone Plus One." Only two visitors interrupt Shannon's evening with Jeff: a seedy-looking couple who are suspiciously interested in . . . something. Shannon snipes about the woman's implants and lets her contempt fly when she learns they're just snooping neighbors. As we're told in a handy info box, crashing open houses is a trendy pastime.
In California, by the way, Shannon can swing both ways, in that she can represent both Jeff and the buyer, in this case a lawyer with exacting demands. Can Shannon handle the challenge of being stuck between two different interests? Can she seal the deal without letting either buyer or seller feel left out?
Meanwhile, we meet Madison Hildebrand. While the show pigeonholes Shannon as ``the blond bombshell," Madison is portrayed as the eager newbie. Looking like a model with a bright white smile, he cheerfully brokers his multi million dollar deals. Tonight, he represents the seller of an oddball home abandoned in mid-renovation, while a slick agent named Scotty Brown represents the buyer. The ups and downs between Madison and Scotty play out like an Ari Gold negotiation on ``Entourage," as the sale takes unexpected turns, and the guys hope to hug it all out after the tense moments. Will young Madison alienate the older agents with his wheeling and dealing?
But the real stars of ``Million Dollar Listing" are the homes, with their ocean vistas and hot tubs, and the prices, with their many, many zeroes. While the realtors, including a ruthless good-cop-bad-cop couple named Ray and Dia Schuldenfrei, play games and contend with emotional clients, the glitzy high-end real estate market steals the show.
Bravo doesn't even attempt to create seasonlong dramatic plot arcs, with the realtors finding themselves, or God, or a conscience, or post-rags riches. ``Million Dollar Listing" is a pretty collection of vignettes about people with money making more money, and it's a little obscene.
Matthew Gilbert can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.