The Netflix world-domination narrative is a well and oft told tale. Since the streaming platform began producing original content in 2013, it's been on a steady march to usurp every corner of the TV marketplace. They made a hard charge for serialized dramas, camping out in the backyard of networks like HBO and AMC. They went in hard on cooking shows and home-improvement series, coming straight for the likes of Food Network and HGTV. Their recent mega-push into prestige feature films has been felt in a major way at the Oscars with films such as Roma, Marriage Story, and The Irishman. Whether this is a strategy or merely the natural outcome of the platform's wide-ranging programming, the upshot is that with every niche the Big Red Machine burrows into, they end up eating another brand's lunch.
Bravo, meanwhile, has built its considerable success by doing the exact opposite of Netflix's wide-net approach. After spending its earlier years as a more broad-based high-end entertainment brand, the basic cable network focused hard on its particular brand of reality — housewives, high-drama affluence, aspiration, pricey homes, high-end fashion — and doubled, tripled, quadrupled down on it. Bravo has its niche, and even if that niche is as narrow as "Bethenny Frankel and a couple other things," it's worked.
Now, however, with Netflix premiering the high-end real estate docu-soap Million Dollar Beach House, on the back of a few other recent shows that have already taken aim at the heart of Bravo's brand, it seems clear that whether they're intending to or not, Netflix is coming for Bravo as well. Here's how:
Bravo Show(s) Its Coming For: Queer Eye for the Straight Guy
While it's true that the original Queer Eye for the Straight Guy was a relic of Bravo's past long before Netflix went and resurrected the brand, there's still something to the fact that Netflix went rummaging through Bravo's old family albums and rebranded one of the foundational shows in the channel's history. Queer Eye is a Netflix property now, and we should probably see this as Netflix's first step in a genre takeover.
Bravo Show(s) Its Coming For: Million Dollar Listing; Vanderpump Rules
Netflix has enjoyed a real pop culture breakthrough with Selling Sunset this year, and more than anything else it's this show that's proven Netflix can really put a dent in Bravo's armor. Once again, the high-end real-estate porn on display rivals anything that any of Bravo's Million Dollar Listing variations can boast, but the drama and the characters are good enough that they rival the train-wreck appeal of a Vanderpump Rules. Vapid L.A. fame monsters on the come-up, only without the years of baggage that have finally begun to wear Vanderpump down. You know that Selling Sunset is getting under the skin of the Bravo folks when Andy Cohen visibly bristles when the show is brought up on Watch What Happens Live.
Bravo Show(s) Its Coming For: Project Runway
Bravo had barely gotten their flagship reality competition Project Runway back under their belts from its years on Lifetime when Netflix arrived with their rival fashion program. Hosted by Alexa Chung and Queer Eye's Tan France, the show focused on a set of designers from around the world, competing for a $250,000 prize, as well as the chance to debut a collection with luxury fashion site Net-a-Porter. Bravo won this particular battle, with Next in Fashion being canceled after only one season, but the shot across the bow left a flesh wound nonetheless.
Bravo Show(s) Its Coming For: any of the Housewives spinoff shows
As my Primetimer colleague Jean Bentley recently wrote, DeMarcus Family Rules belongs to a particular subgenre of celebrity couple reality shows that encompasses everything from long-ago shows like Newlyweds: Nick & Jessica to more recent stuff like Miz and Mrs. Neither of which are Bravo shows. But Bravo has certainly made hay with the format to focus on a select few of its Housewives stars, from Kim Zolciak, to Kandi Burruss, to Bethenny Frankel.
Bravo Show(s) Its Coming For: Million Dollar Listing; Summer House
Following the real estate agents trying to sell big, swanky, beachfront homes in the Hamptons, Million Dollar Beach House takes the real estate porn of Million Dollar Listing and places it right in the back yard of Bravo's weekend warriors at Summer House. Which isn't to say that the Summer House people have a lock on Hamptons reality shows, but if Million Dollar Beach House doesn't make you at least temporarily wonder if Summer House's Carl couldn't use a more lucrative career change, it should. Meanwhile, the intra-office personality conflicts feel as forced as any of Million Dollar Listing's finest manufactured blowups.
The first six episodes of Million Dollar Beach House drop today on Netflix.
Joe Reid is the Managing Editor at Primetimer and co-host of the This Had Oscar Buzz podcast. His work has appeared in Decider, NPR, HuffPost, The Atlantic, Slate, Polygon, Vanity Fair, The Herald Sun, Vulture, The A.V. Club and more.