Something really amazing took place on American television starting in 2009. With all the power of an earthquake and all the subtlety of a something really, really subtle, the image of the real estate agent changed on one of the most popular TV shows on the air. We all know television has great power to influence popular opinion, though few will admit to having their own opinions shaped by the boob tube. Since not that many Americans deal too often in real life with a real estate agent, how did this image of them as shady, shallow manipulators looking out only for their own commission? The answer? Well, it’s got to be TV since it is highly unlikely that every person who holds the same image of a real estate agents as everybody has watched “Glengary Glen Ross.” And then, as if by magic, that image has begun to change thanks to the newest kid on the block of a long history of real estate agents holding open houses.
Phil Dunphy: Modern Family
Sure, he’s a little goofy. But he’s also funny. Madly and monogamously in love with his wife. A terrific dad. The rare real portrait of a rebel on TV who refuses to have his self-image shaped by the cultivated perspective of society. He’s also a very dedicated, creative and driven real estate agent. Phil Dunphy is the opposite of the stereotypical image of the real estate agent.
Cookie Kwan: The Simpsons
Or, should I say, Phil Dunphy is the opposite of Cookie Kwan. Cookie is number one on the West Side, as she is proud to proclaim. Cookie is an Asian Tiger who went from burlesque dancer to number one real estate agent on the West Side by leaving a trail of metaphorical corpses of other real estate agents in her wake. Cookie Kwan is the model of the pre-Dunphy vision of a real estate agent in their most voracious form.
Robert S. Beanblossom: My Hero
The ridiculously named Mr. Beanblossom is what Phil Dunphy could have been. One of TV’s earliest real estate agents, he was introduced to viewers in 1952 on the show “My Hero.” His work for Thackery Realty Company was sub-par to say the least. Cookie Kwan is the image of a high-octane go-getter form of real estate agent while Phil Dunphy is more laid back. And yet Beanblossom would make Phil look like Cookie. His casual approach to his job meant that more often than not his secretary would be vital to closing the deal because she would have to swoop in and clean up his mistakes. Can’t be sure, but one must assume that the ill-fitting title actually refers to that secretary, Julie Marshall, rather than Beanblossom.
Carol Brady: The Brady Brides
Carol Brady is an example of the kind of real estate agent who may or may not only exist in the world of TV. The housewife who settles on the business of selling real estate once she has become a bored empty nester who is not pretty enough to take on an exciting lover to fill her bottomless feeling of not being needed anymore.
Peggy Hill: King of the Hill
Almost like Carol Brady, but not quite is the image of the real estate agent presented by Peggy Hill. At least Carol Brady made a career out of being a real estate agent–she was still in the job a decade later in “The Bradys.” Peggy Hill is representative of the type of real estate agent who pretty much just fell into the job and will make a beeline out of it as soon as something better comes along. In the meantime, Peggy’s naturally oversized sense of competition means she will work harder, more creatively and, if necessary, more underhandedly in order to make a sell to impress to her boss.
Tom Potter: The Tom Ewell Show
Tom Potter is also a handy reference point by which to judge the quake in real estate agentry wrought by Phil Dunphy. Yes, true, Phil has a son in the household, but let’s face it: his life at home is dominated by estrogen. Tom Potter’s household consisted of his wife, three daughters and mother-in-law. All those females in one place has to have an effect. Which brings into focus one of the attractions of becoming a real estate agent. You get to work inside the office, sure, but you also get to leave the office on a regular basis. Work as a real estate agent is the perfect option for those enjoy the mundane routine of office work in small doses and the chance to get out in the world and meet new people…in small doses. Next time you come across a real estate agent who is living up to your preconceived notions, ask a few questions and see if maybe they are just behaving that way because they have too much testosterone or estrogen to deal with at home.