Reality Bites: Million Dollar Listing New York

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There are a million reality shows on the naked television. We're going to watch them all, one at a time.

The subjects of most reality shows mostly fall into two broad categories: people who are quote a bit more successful than you are, and people you want to make fun of. Sometimes these categories intersect (anything Kardashian-related), but more often than not, the audience is left to choose between hooting at people holding Bigfoot conventions or gazing enviously upon the perfectly styled, Dior-clad glitterati we secretly (or not) long to be part of.

A substratum of the "more successful than thou" category are those who provide a service to wealthy types. Maybe they "pimp their rides," or cut their hair, or -- in the case of Million Dollar Listing New York -- sell them ostentatious and overpriced living quarters. Hey, Bernie Madoff had to live *somewhere*.

The East Coast variant of Million Dollar Listing introduces us to three real estate agents, two of them (Fredrik and Ryan) suave operators, the other not so much (Michael). In this episode, current Managing Director for Prudential Douglas Elliman (and ex-porn star) Fredrik Eklund is concerned with selling units in a new building going up in Tribeca. Well...he describes it as Tribeca. Apparently he's fudging the addresses a bit to say the building's on Washington instead of Canal (which would make it more like Chinatown). This is all probably a lot more interesting to someone who is planning on moving to New York and shelling out five mil for an apartment. The rest of us just kind of smile and nod when Ryan, all too eager to point out the address discrepancy to fellow brokers, says he'd totally buy a unit if it came with a free order of General Tso's chicken.

Not kung pao. Kung pao is for closers.

Fredrik looks eerily like A Christmas Story's Peter Billingsley, by the way. Or maybe it's just me.

Not-so-friendly professional rival Ryan Serhant is SVP/Managing Director for someplace called Nest Seeker's International. Born in Texas, the former hand model(!) enjoys attempting to sabotage Fredrik's efforts (the aforementioned "Tribeca/Not Tribeca" thing). But you know what? I looked at a map, Chinatown isn't anywhere close to Fredrik's building. Ryan also doesn't like wearing construction helmets, though as Fredrik points out, it might help hide his gray hair. Meow!

But Ryan has his own hands full trying to sell an exclusive pad in Gramercy. How exclusive? If you pay the $2,300-per-square-foot price for this 2,200-square-foot pad, you get a key to Gramercy Park itself. And you'll have Julia Roberts for a neighbor, which frankly seems like something you'd expect a price break for. Pretty soon he's dealing with a Hong Kong broker who seems immune to his ambisexual charms, though the pair finally settle on a bid.

Thank goodness. I'd hate for Ryan to have to undergo more tortuous stress-related acupuncture.

Finally, there's Michael, who rose to the position of Director of Business Development for Douglas Elliman Worldwide Consulting thanks to hard work and the fact his dad is his boss. This keeps him from getting too reamed out after losing two of five Park Avenue apartments he'd been trying to sell. He overcompensates on his last one, glazing the broker's eyes over at their private showing with excessively detailed descriptions of every goddamn doorknob.

Michael is the odd man out in this threesome. For while Fredrik works out at 5 a.m. and leaves his Rolex on even while taking a soak, and Ryan hides his sharklike tendencies behind all-American looks and faux obsequiousness, Michael gets Botox injections...for hyperhydrosis (uncontrollable perspiration). Part of me feels bad for the kid, who looks like he'd rather be doing bong hits between games of Madden with his roommates. Then I remember we still have 8 percent unemployment and I want to whack him in the nerve cluster right under his sweaty nepotistic armpit.

Don't you wonder about folks who work in places like Gramercy Park or Park Avenue? What must it be like to toil there and watch the behavior of the inhabitants and then go back to your walk-up in Queens for the night? People like Fredrik and Ryan are well on their way to establishing themselves among the one-tenth of 1 percent, while Michael will always have his dad to fall back on. They're just biding their time. But every time we get a glimpse of a valet or maid or personal chef, I can't help but do a mental tally of how many times they've teabagged the master's pomegranate juice.

This is why I no longer work in food service.

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