‘Selling the OC’: Black reality star falls victim to white tears

OPINION: Brandi Marshall stood her ground amid her co-star's microaggressions.

Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.

“Selling the OC” returned to Netflix for a second season over the weekend and while we were wowed by the glamorous properties and fierce fashion from the high-brow realtors of The Oppenheim Group, our jaws were on the floor over a heated exchange between Brandi Marshall and Alex Hall. 

As the sole-Black person on the series, Marshall, wife of former basketball pro Sean Marshall, already has to navigate the predominately white arena of luxury real estate in Orange County, California. Now it seems she also has to contend with microaggressions from her supposed friend and coworker that felt more than a little racially charged. 

Selling the OC, theGrio.com
Brandi Marshall, Alexandra Jarvis, Alex Hall, Tyler Stanaland in “Selling the OC.” (Photo credit: Courtesy of Netflix © 2023)

In case you missed it, in episode 6, Alex Hall, who is white, defended her curious relationship with Tyler Stanaland, who is the center of drama this season as his public divorce from actress Brittany Snow plays out. With lots of fury and using her hands to gesture, Hall continues defending herself while other women in the group call out her condescending tone and body language.

Her response? She is simply “using her hands” when she speaks as part of her Italian heritage. Hall tells the group, “That’s how I am and you don’t have to like it!” 

Marshall chimes in, explaining that the flying hands and aggressive tone aren’t landing well, adding that where she comes from, behavior like that suggests “it’s about to go down.” 

Cue the artificial panic from Hall, who’s suddenly scared she’s going to be pummeled by this beautifully dressed Black woman who was simply telling her homegirl to chill. To make matters worse, Hall accuses Marshall of “coming at her,” asking her in front of the entire group, “Are you going to swing?” 

Holy microaggression! I mean, did that scene actually happen? Are we the only ones who paused our TVs to make sure what we were watching was legit? As if pulled straight out of the microaggression handbook, Hall’s disappointing reaction somehow gets worse as she resorts to tears after Brandi removes herself from the situation. 

We’ve seen this before. Many of us have lived it, as the entire situation only emphasizes Marshall’s position as the only Black person in her workplace. While some of her female co-stars, including Kayla Cardona and Alexandra Jarvis, immediately came to Marshall’s defense after her exit, naturally, all of the white men in the scene defend and even justify Hall’s behavior. Right on cue.

Selling the OC, theGrio.com
Brandi Marshall in “Selling the OC.” (Photo credit: Courtesy of Netflix © 2023)

So, to be clear: Hall’s demeanor is just Italian “passion,” but Brandi must be an “angry Black woman” on the warpath? The confrontation was yet another example of a calm, collected Black person being accused of erratic and potentially violent behavior from their white counterparts when the same behavior from a white girl is totally acceptable. 

These microaggressions, while constant in real life, have become more and more prevalent in reality TV spaces as these shows attempt to remedy years of slim representation by adding token cast members of color into their all-white shows.

We’re not the only ones who were side-eyeing our screens during this jaw-dropping moment. Many fans took to X (formerly known as Twitter) with their thoughts, calling Hall’s behavior micro-aggressive and derivative of the “angry Black woman” trope. One user wrote, “So Alex Hall can be rude & disrespectful but when Brandi calls it out she’s the angry black woman and you felt like she was gonna hit you?”

Other posts seem to agree with this sentiment, with another user writing, “Alex Hall’s micro aggressions towards Brandi, holy cow, are you being for real? Full on feeding the “angry black woman” stereotype.”

As for Marshall’s relationship with Hall today? She recently told People it is nonexistent, saying, “Our friendship is, we don’t have one. But I know for some of those moments, it was difficult speaking with her.”

The second season of “Selling the OC” is available to stream now on Netflix.

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