Television series like Million Dollar Listing and Selling Sunset have taken viewers inside the world of luxury real estate in markets like Los Angeles, Manhattan, Miami and San Francisco. Netflix’s new show, Million Dollar Beach House, which launches on August 26, explores an equally high-stakes but very different market—the Hamptons. Following five young Nest Seekers International brokers striving to make it big on the East End, Million Dollar Beach House shows off stunning properties, dramatic deals and, of course, personal drama among the ambitious brokers.
The genesis for Million Dollar Beach House came from Nick Rigg, Head of Unscripted at DIGA Studios. Rigg, who has a house in East Hampton, has developed many hit real estate-based shows, including House Hunters International and the Tiny House franchise. “Real estate is a passion for me, a personal and professional passion,” says Rigg. “Over the years I’ve thought, why aren’t we making a show about the amazing real estate in the Hamptons? This is some of the most spectacular real estate in the country, in what is arguably one of the most beautiful parts of the country. What can we do to celebrate that?”
Rigg met with Nest Seekers International President Eddie Shapiro to develop Million Dollar Beach House. “We both kind of discussed this notion of a show that looks at what goes on in the business of residential real estate in the Hamptons,” says Rigg. “What does that mean? In one of the hottest, most exclusive markets in the country, what is it like for the brokers who are working that? What does it mean to them?” The show ultimately found its home at Netflix. “That was sort of how it came about, both from a personal passion and a real curiosity to ‘peak behind the hedges’ and see what it was all about.”
A show like Million Dollar Beach House needs a compelling, interesting group of people for viewers to invest in. A team of five young brokers were selected for their compelling stories, ambition and, of course, knack for being on camera. “When I put my producer’s hat on, we’re looking for people who are going to be good on camera,” says Rigg. “We have to make sure viewers are going to dial into their stories and enjoy having these people in their living room. So that’s something we look for immediately. But at the same time, we wanted to see, who were the young brokers coming through? Who is this generation of young hustlers, people who want to really make their mark? That’s what we were looking at, the young generation of brokers. What you’ll see in season one are a bunch of brokers, some are new to the game. Some have to get their sea legs and learn what it takes to compete and thrive in this highly competitive market.”
The show’s team of brokers includes Michael Fulfree, J.B. Andreassi, Peggy Zabakolas, Noel Roberts and James Giugliano. “As we were putting together the team, we asked who is going to play well together as a family, who has youth and energy, who has a great story we can really lean into and obviously we want to lean into this for years to come?” explains Rigg. “We want this to be successful and follow their stories as they learn and grow. That’s how we went about casting our brokers. I think we hit it right. We got a great team.”
Each broker has an interesting story to tell. Fulfree and his wife have a baby during the show. Andreassi is new to the Hamptons real estate scene and wants to be trusted with more responsibility and his own properties. Zabakolas comes from the Manhattan market and wants to break into the market. Roberts has a different approach and attitude that sometimes clashes with the others. Giugliano has the most experience in the Hamptons and acts as a mentor.
With five strong personalities, there’s bound to be drama, but Rigg emphasizes that the drama is based in the business. “The drama you’ll see—and I want to use that word carefully because drama implies it’s ‘created,’ which it isn’t—we want to represent what really happens when they talk to each other about certain calls they’ve made or assumptions they’re making,” says Rigg. “The drama is centered on the business. In fact, when you see and meet them all, there’s a real friendship between them. They support each other in their personal lives. That’s a very important distinction about this show. They are this sort of unique family in that sense. During the show, Michael Fulfree has a baby midseason and that’s an amazing story they lean into and share. At the same time, they question their judgment about whether they got the pricing right on a house and use their professional judgment on that.”
Aside from a strong cast, the other major aspect of the show, of course, is the location. And as the show is on Netflix globally, many viewers will be experiencing the Hamptons for the very first time. “I think for people who don’t know the Hamptons at all, this is like a jewel box,” says Rigg. “This is going to be a great surprise, to see this pocket of the world that has this amazing real estate in it. I’m a real estate junkie and to be able to watch a show where you see these fantastic homes and settings and finishes, and that’s a real treat for the viewer.”
Rigg and the production team spent a lot of time developing the right look for the show to honor the Hamptons’ unique visual look and feel. “We always talk about the ‘light’ of the Hamptons being very unique. We spent a lot of time in production really kind of thinking about that. How do we shoot the homes, what is our color balance for the show, how can we capture what we believe to be the visual essence of the Hamptons? And we spent a long time working that through with our camera departments and producers. I think when people tune into the show, they’re going to get a piece of that, visually. People are going to enjoy that.”
So with a cast of up-and-coming real estate stars and a “jewel box” of a location, Million Dollar Beach House is shaping up to be a hit for viewers. “I have a love affair with the Hamptons,” says Rigg. “It doesn’t feel like it comes from anywhere else. And to be able to share some of that with viewers—it’s something very special.”
Watch the first season Million Dollar Beach House on Netflix August 26. Meet the brokers at BehindtheHedges.com.