As a resident of New York, the prospect of owning a house (or a large apartment, for that matter) often feels like a pipe dream. The country simply does not have enough affordable housing to meet growing demand, especially in competitive urban markets like New York. During the pandemic, housing prices in the United States have soared, even in smaller and less populated regions, while homeownership rates have begun to decline. In the Southern California suburb where I grew up, the median home price recently hit $1 million, a bewildering sum for anyone earning less than six figures and having little or no intergenerational wealth.
I don’t expect to buy a house anytime soon. However, I do spend quite a bit of time browsing the real estate landscape on Zillow and watching aspirational home-related content, like Architectural Digest’s celebrity home tours and reality TV shows like sell sunset, Luxury Listings Sydneyand The Parisian agencywhich was my favorite of the genre.
There’s a scopophile aspect to appraising the multimillion-dollar homes presented to wealthy clients, who have budgets so high they can afford to nitpick at every disapproving detail. These properties are furnished, with aesthetic decisions made by the architects and interior designers. It’s a stark departure from the market realities of middle-class buyers trying to outbid their competitors, sometimes with all-cash offers.
Because of their proximity to wealth, these luxury agents treat posh homes like trading cards – properties to be acquired, shuffled around and tactfully presented to top clients. Such content allows the viewer to forget their own living conditions and dwell on the disconnected mindset of the elite class of mansion buyers, who are always in search of something greater. and better. Dream homes are easy to find if you have the money.
I watch these shows for the visual opulence of the houses, less for the rivalry between the agents. Many people enjoy sell sunsetBarbie’s absurd office drama and revel in Luxury ListingsSelfish jerk, but after a season or two I start to tire of the interpersonal conflict. I don’t like catfights, which seem overdone and unbelievable. I want less talkative confessionals and more forgiving, sweeping panoramas of luxury properties. (Yes, I have already watched both seasons of The most extraordinary houses in the world.)
The Parisian agencyWhere The Agency in French, responds to this voyeuristic desire, while introducing viewers to the very prosperous and very affable Kretzes, the French family behind the eponymous luxury real estate. Streaming on Netflix, the show — and the agency — is a family affair, so drama is low stakes and spats virtually non-existent. Think: The Great British Bake Off in terms of its light and wholesome tone, but with a touch of European glamor and occasional Kardashian-style aphorisms about hard work.
The Kretzes aren’t motivated to compete. When a member makes a deal, they ring a gong to celebrate the group’s success. A sale for one is a sale for all, a philosophy reflected in their giant 1930s home office space in Boulogne Billancourt, an affluent Parisian neighborhood. However, there is a kind of hierarchy. CEO Olivier Kretz and his wife Sandrine are the real estate couple behind the agency. They created it in 2007 and then integrated their sons Martin, Valentin and Louis into the company, in order of age. Raphael, the youngest of the four, is 17 and still in high school, but makes occasional cameos declaring his excitement to one day work with his brothers.
Aside from the lavish properties, the main draw of the show is the distinctive and generally likable personalities of each member of the family. This is, of course, advantageous when negotiating deals with clients, and it also makes television enjoyable. The Kretzes seem like a tight-knit French host family, who are only too happy to share a bottle of champagne with you at one of their country houses. Still, Netflix producers managed to capture the more “normal” aspects of Kretz family life: shared croissants for breakfast, occasional fracas between siblings, occasional bonding activities (e.g., kitesurfing and bathing ice cream to create a team), and their cool, ever-present Grandma Majo, whom the boys try to set up a date.
The Kretze are like us, the series seems to say, although they can travel to Ibiza at any time and mingle with members of high society. Martin, like any older brother, is bearably arrogant but possesses some self-awareness to keep his ego in check. Valentin is serious and level-headed, always seen with a smile on his face. Louis, the second youngest, is in the shadow of his brothers’ spotlight, but even he gets a one-episode arc to develop his skills as an apprentice agent.
While Martin and Valentin are perhaps the most visible agents on the pitch (it helps that they’re tall and stunningly handsome Frenchmen), there’s no doubt that parents are in the driver’s seat, even though they’re mostly represented holding the fortress at home. Olivier is the stern patriarch who always seems slightly preoccupied with his sons’ shenanigans. Sandrine is a shrewd businesswoman and a proud boss. She sports a “Girls Can Do Anything” shirt in her first season confessionals, an allusion to the fact that she is the clan’s only active female.
The first season dwells on these family dynamics and features the occasional customer stress test. In one episode, Martin and Valentin scramble to find a last-minute estate in Ibiza that would match the scrupulous tastes of their clients, who have traveled to the island specifically for the tours.
The second season delves more into the extravagance of French real estate, as the Kretzes literally grab land for more. The Kretzes are at the top of the game in Paris, but Olivier is eager to extend their reach. They bring Jeanne, a new agent whom Martin grills on a guided tour. Olivier’s apple of eye, however, is Daniel Daggers, a British luxury estate agent who has managed over $4 billion in sales and calls himself “Mr. Super Premier. To woo Daggers and convince him to Associated with the family, Olivier and his sons give tours of a literal 32,000 square foot chateau with 30 bedrooms.
The effort casts a slight will, they will not subside at the end of the second season. Daggers’ co-sign would be invaluable for the Kretzes as they set their sights beyond France. Yet their international reputation will only grow. The show cements their status as the family of real estate agents par excellence in Paris: a family business with enough ambition and big-name clients to strike gold. A Netflix show is probably a better marketing strategy than a glowing profile in any major European newspaper, even if the Kretzes don’t seem particularly interested in climbing the D-list stardom ladder. In this life, I probably won’t buy a million dollar property in Paris. But if I ever hit the Powerball jackpot, I’ll know exactly who to call.
The Parisian agency: exclusive properties is available to stream on netflix. For more recommendations from the world of culture, check out the A good thing archives.