‘Buying London’ Feels Obviously Scripted, And It’s Angering Viewers

By Louie Fecou
Published: May 23, 2024 (Last updated: 3 weeks ago)
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Is 'Buying London' on Netflix Scripted?
Buying London | Image via Netflix

Buying London is a clone of the popular US show Selling Sunset, but critics and viewers are deeply unsatisfied with the show’s flagrantly scripted nature. All reality TV is controlled to some extent, of course, but the obviousness of this UK-centric spin-off’s attempts to emulate the success of a well-liked format is turning viewers off.

Is the reality show scripted or real?

I am not a fan of this type of show, as I thought that all of them were ultimately following some script or narrative, so it does not surprise me that Buying London is under scrutiny for its presentation.

The thing is, the show is marketed as a reality series, so you expect it to be following the comings and goings of high-end estate agents in London. But the show focuses on the agents, their relationships, and their interactions. The featured “agents” are seen in photoshoots, and commenting on the “hotness” of their colleagues, name-dropping who used to live in the properties they are looking at, and making comments like, “I’m here to work, I’m not here for drama.”

But of course, they are. And so are you.

Now, is it scripted? Well perhaps it does not go as far as giving the “cast” an actual script, but there are moments when it all feels a little too stagey. At one point an agent is faced with a golden glowing wife of a fellow agent, saying, “It has come to my attention that you may have a crush on my husband.”. It does seem pre-arranged — would someone really say that with such a winning smile? I’m not sure.

Perhaps it is fairer to say that the reality behind the show has been constructed for the sake of the cameras, and in the age of reality television, it is not inconceivable that the cast knows what is expected of them and play to the conceits of other such programs, daring to be controversial and hoping a sound bite or clip from them will go viral.

It may not be scripted, but it sure looks staged.

Why Would They Script It?

The most obvious reason that any reality show would be scripted is to create as much enticing and entertaining drama as possible.

This isn’t necessarily scripting in the way a TV series or film is written. Instead, situations are explained to the cast, and there may be a couple of zingers offered to them that they can use within the given situation.

It helps to create a narrative, and it pushes the drama of the show forward, allowing viewers to become invested in the characters. Lines may be given to the assembled agents so we can identify them easily. Oh, he’s the funny one, she’s the bitchy one — you know how that goes.

Let’s face it, the show is put together in the final edit, and it is done to entertain us, the way every reality show in the past has been.

Angry Audience Response At Suspicion of Scripted Reality Scenes

While most viewers implicitly understand that they’re not exactly watching a work of organic non-fiction when they tune into a reality show, viewers have already lamented the obviousness with which Buying London manufactures its drama.

The scripting seems so obvious that some users are identifying specific scenes that don’t ring true:

Viewers watch reality TV with a willingness to be complicit in an illusion. When the working parts become so blatant, though, it ruins a lot of the enjoyment.

And the critics! Oh, the press have slaughtered the show, with The Guardian describing it as “probably the most hateable TV show ever made”, and The Telegraph saying it is “artificial, vulgar, post-truth TV.”

Perhaps the middle of a recession isn’t the most ideal time to release a reality show about high-end real estate.


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