From Bravo to Netflix to Hulu, every cable and streaming platform offers a bounty of reality TV offerings. So how can producers elevate their show and captivate their audience when the fight against clutter is real in reality?
Executive Producer Deanna Markoff, whose credits include The real housewives of New Jersey, summer house, pawn starsand Buy Beverly Hills detailed the challenges producers face towards the Showbiz Cheat Sheet.
But how do documentarians differentiate their series, and as a producer, does she ever massage a plot while she’s filming to spice up the show?
Markov was fresh out Buy Beverly Hills Season 1 on Netflix and said it was a pleasure working with real estate agency head Mauricio Umansky and his family. And while Buy Beverly Hills contained some serious real estate eye candy, Markoff wanted to tell a different story, one about family and connections.
“It’s an interesting challenge, especially because there are so many real estate fairs Sell sunset‘ she said, noting the other Netflix reality real estate show. “It’s about figuring out not only how to follow these things, but also how to follow them in a way that makes the show stand out from everyone else.”
“And I think what we’re really trying to bring into all properties and transactions is to see how these people work in this world and keep giving it back to family and their friends. Each time she’s been able to slip that story into what happened to the properties, it’s made it so much easier to follow her journey and how the process actually unfolds. And you don’t switch off. Your eyes don’t glaze over, you’re invested.”
Markoff said it helped that Umansky understood the series’ process. “We’ve had this project on the shelf for a while because we just knew we wanted to work with Mauricio,” she shared. “Not only is he married to Kyle Richards, he founded this incredible agency. It’s so funny because when I started on the show I didn’t see many agencies, but once I started on the show I realized how many there were everywhere.”
“And then when I met him, he was just so charismatic and such a good guy and he just wanted things to go well and he wanted to do his best,” she said. “It was so easy to work with him. And he was the bread and butter. He’s the reason the show exists, why it’s so successful.”
Unlike a show like Million Dollar Listingwhich focuses primarily on the deals, Markoff wanted Buy Beverly Hills to have more interpersonal feeling. “I think the whole point of the show is that family dynasty,” she said. “So it was really easy to always get it around somehow [Umansky] because his daughters are in this business. Everyone knows the background with his wife. So he was the one everyone wanted there when it mattered. And so we used him when needed, and it all just fed back to him through the other characters.”
With reality TV becoming almost a competitive sport, it must be tempting to get involved in the action, especially when what’s being filmed feels stale. But Markoff said that as a producer, she doesn’t interfere or try to improve storylines to create more drama.
“I like being as free as possible,” she said. “I mean, the audience is smart, right? You can tell when a producer would step in and be like, “You should say that.” So for me, I love stepping into the page, letting it be authentic. Of course, sometimes you have to remind people of things or just say, “Hey, we need this scene because it happened behind the camera.” And things like that come naturally in the reality TV world, but to me, authenticity is a lot better.”
So will Buy Beverly Hills got another season? Markoff hopes so because there is so much more to tell.