Movies

Netflix’s ‘Bling Empire’ review: Culture, couture and rich people problems

A still from ‘Bling Empire’  

Joining Netflix’s long and growing list of reality shows is Bling Empire, that follows some of the wealthiest Asians in Los Angeles. The show has everything one would expect from this premise; there are sprawling mansions, lavish parties, scandalous gossip, shopping trips to Paris, and a LOT of bling all around.

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Model Kevin Kreider sets the tone for the show at the beginning when he starts off by saying he always thought Crazy Rich Asians was a fantasy until he met his billionaire friend Kane Lim. “They have the world at their disposal,” says a wide-eyed Kevin, and this look of awe remains through the show as he parties, gossips and jet-sets with the very affable Kane and his wealthy circle.

There’s drama aplenty as Christine Chiu, a socialite and philanthropist locks horns with the even wealthier Anna Shay, the latter who in one episode says, “she cannot compete with what I was born into”. The subject of much discussion among the circle is entrepreneur Kelly Mi Li’s rocky relationship with her actor-boyfriend Drew. Heiress Cherie Chan who is wondering why her partner of five years hasn’t proposed to her yet, is meanwhile, also waiting for the birth of her second child whom she can’t wait to have photoshoots for, in Hermes bags and boxes.

Bling Empire
  • Creator: Jeff Jenkins
  • No. of episodes: 8
  • Cast: Kevin Kreider, Christine Chiu, Kim Lee, Kane Lim, Kelly Mi Li
  • Storyline: Follow LA’s wildly wealthy Asian and Asian American fun seekers as they go all out with fabulous parties, glamour and drama in this reality series

Ostentatious, lavish and over-the-top are words that feel inadequate to describe some of what the cast members indulge in. While an ‘epic’ birthday party for a one-year-old has a claw machine with Gucci bags where guests can play and take goodies, another party themed ‘Keep it tight’ aptly has a Botox bar. What about when a child is visiting an heiress’ house and there are no toys to play with? Well, there always are diamonds! Amidst the endless stream of parties, there are spontaneous birthday lunch trips to Paris and private jets to ferry the rich on shopping excursions to Las Vegas.

 

While there’s no dearth of entertainment, where Bling Empire scores is how it attempts to also delve into the culture and identity with its rare all-Asian cast for a show of this genre. The show’s more heart-felt parts are those involving Kevin as he attempts to trace his birth family, having been adopted from South Korea into an American family, and his friend DJ Kim Lee’s attempt to reconnect with her father whom she has lost contact with. There’s also chatter about strict, traditional Asian families, toxic relationships, and homesickness.

In probably the best scene from the show, Kane yells at a group of people he spots with a confederate flag in Charleston saying “The Asians are here. We’re here to buy your property!” There’s some heart amidst all the couture, but all the bling literally overshadows most of what the show has to say about culture, identity and roots.

With just eight episodes, the first season of Bling Empire makes for a quick watch. There might be a lot of rich people problems and an excess of glamour, glitz and trivialities, but the show checks off all the boxes in terms of entertainment.

Bling Empire is currently streaming on Netflix

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Printable version | Mar 6, 2021 7:46:55 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/netflixs-bling-empire-review-culture-couture-and-rich-people-problems/article33685679.ece

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