Chrishell Stause has been counting down to the third season of Netflix's "Selling Sunset."
"I have been having crushing anxiety about this," she told the LA Times. "I've been waiting for the show to come out for so long, and to look back on it is really painful because it was an extremely difficult time in my life. And people are going to make their judgments.
"But at the same time, I'm ready to just rip off the Band-Aid," she continued. "I want to get it over with so that I can really focus on the future."
Stause is referring to the sudden divorce filing by her then-husband, "This Is Us" breakout Justin Hartley, after two years of marriage and six years together. Their surprise split made headlines last November, just as Stause and the rest of the Oppenheim Group agents were in the midst of filming Netflix's first English-language docusoap, which follows the lucrative listings and costly closings of Los Angeles' luxury real estate market.
For months, Stause has remained mostly mum about her side of the story. With the premiere of "Selling Sunset's" third season on Friday, that's no longer possible. But while fans may binge for answers about why the two broke up, what they'll find instead is an intimate account of a normally private heartbreak, captured with thoughtfulness and care. That's a rarity for reality television, a genre that has historically sacrificed the devastated for a delicious bit of schadenfreude.
The first half of the season illustrates how Stause worked hard to prove that the San Fernando Valley was an area left untapped by her brokerage. The entire Oppenheim team even heads to the Valley in the fifth episode for Stause's charity event at a listing property.
The next morning, the agents and brokers are shown at their Sunset Strip office, reading a TMZ report on their phones and computers, shaking their heads in confusion. "What happened?" asked Maya Vander. Heather Rae Young echoed, "It doesn't make sense."
The series still had at least three weeks of production left. "When things like this happen, I find it's best to take a beat and talk with the person and figure it out: Will you let us tell this story? What's the best way to do that without making the situation worse for you?" said series creator Adam DiVello, who was also behind "Laguna Beach" and "The Hills."
"From the moment we heard about it, we made a very conscious choice to protect Chrishell as much as we could," he added. "When we're making these shows, I try to protect the cast as much as I can because they are putting themselves out there. I'm grateful that they all give us as much access as they do."