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Netflix's Bling Empire feels refreshing, even if it's an overly familiar reality show

  • The Crazy Rich Asians-inspired reality show features a "surprisingly likable friend group, who slowly reveal the layers of their interpersonal turmoil through an evenly paced — if not, vaguely relaxing — carousel of Rodeo Drive shopping sprees, five-star dining experiences, surprise trips to Paris, poolside gossip sessions, and sweeping shots of the Los Angeles skyline," says Alison Foreman. "It's nothing reality TV fans haven't seen hundreds of hours of on E! and Bravo before — you know, breakups, feuds, thrown drinks, skinny dipping, babies, etc. But even if the content is familiar, the feel of Bling Empire is infused with the freshness that comes from a cast largely underrepresented in the genre. Discussions of identity and status offer flecks of sincerity from Bling Empire's stars, effectively elevating what could be a monotonous been-there-done-that into a valuable new perspective on supreme wealth in the City of Angels. We see the cast celebrate holidays like Chinese New Year and Singapore Day, navigate family expectations in the modern age, and otherwise explore cultural tradition within their very ample means."


    • Bling Empire feels out of place in 2021: "Listen, I love reality TV. I am an avid Real Housewives watcher and always will be, but Bling Empire just wasn't it for me," says Monica Sisavat. "The issue wasn't entirely rooted in the fact that I didn't find anyone from the cast likable (OK, with the exception of Anna sometimes), but mainly, I just don't think this is the energy we need coming into 2021." She adds: "If we learned anything about television in 2020, it's that people want to watch shows with substance. They want content that helps them escape their daily lives, makes them feel real emotions, and tackles important real-life issues head on. Hence, why shows like The Queen's Gambit, Schitt's Creek, and The Umbrella Academy received such high praise last year. Bling Empire does none of those things. I'm sorry, but who honestly wants to watch a show about rich people frivolously spending money and fighting with each other about being rich (see: #necklacegate) while dealing with a global pandemic? Please read the room."
    • Bling Empire is serious and comedic, balancing genuinely surprising revelations and emotional moments with a lot of playful fun

    TOPICS: Bling Empire, Netflix, Asian Americans and TV, Reality TV