To say the least, Netflix’s “Bling Empire” is a weird little sparkly trip into LA’s real world Crazy Rich Asians.
Lucky for you, I’m prepared to say the most! Honestly, I can’t help myself but ruin it for you if you haven’t watched it yet.
First there’s the characters….
Christine Chiu is basically the Head Bitch In Charge. She loves to spend money, loves to talk about money, and really wants you to know that her Plastic Surgeon husband would technically be an Emperor if dynasties were still a thing in China.
Anna Shay is the mischievous matriarch. Her face is like an after school special about the dark side of plastic surgery, she is 100% on something the whole time, and though her diamonds on diamonds definitely check out, got to say I just didn’t feel like her house was that impressive on the wealth spectrum.
Kane Lim is definitely Best Friend material. He loves to shop, will not think twice about telling you your outfit is horrible, and really just wants to have a good time.
Kevin Kreider is the attractive, non-rich person who definitely sticks out the whole time while also being the most eager to blend in the whole time. Like, dude really wants to be a part of the crew. He’s a model and he’s really too excited about that not to mention it all of the time, or keep his shirt down.
Kim Lee is the sultry, sassy one who definitely has a bit of a temper. She’s also apparently a really big DJ and doesn’t take any financial help from her parents – so that’s cool.
Cherie Chan is a quiet “denim heiress” who shockingly used to be a big pop star in Japan and loves filters way too much. She’s a new mom of two (her daughter’s name is Jadore! Like, je die!!) and is too busy to actually partake in any of the petty drama on the show.
Kelly Mi Li is truly exhausting. She’s like constantly playing the victim, but also lying in every direction. She used to be married to someone super rich who got locked up for being a fraud, but somehow she still has a lot of money now. So yeah, that needed more explanation.
Jamie Xie is the most interesting to look at. She basically has nothing to do with the show at all other than showing up every once in a while in a great outfit, prompting everyone to say, “great outfit.”
Then there are the plot lines…
I’m sorry, but was “daddy issues” a huge must when casting this show? What the fuck are the chances that Kevin would be adopted and want to find his birth parents, that Kim would hear about that and then remember that she hasn’t seen her real dad since she was like 10 and that there’s a big hole in her heart where he should be so she needs to hire a Private Investigator ASAP to track him down, and that Christine would hear both of those things and remember that she hasn’t talked to her own dad since college after he cut her off!?
If that didn’t have you questioning how real this show was, there’s Cherie’s main plot line…
Prior to filming the show, Cherie’s mother passed away. In one of the many psychic/shaman/spiritual reading scenes of the show, she meets with fellow reality tv star Tyler Henry (The Hollywood Medium). He basically says that your mom is always around, and that she can know that for sure when she finds her young daughter talking to her. A hot second in the editing room later and Cherie’s daughter Jadore is standing over her baby brother Jevon saying that she’s talking to her grandmother. To which Cherie then automatically believes must mean that her son is her mom reincarnated.
Like, did producers tell Tyler Henry to say that and then tell Cherie’s daughter to say that? That’s the most obvious explanation here. But at the same time, what a gross thing to do when you’re dealing with the grief of losing a parent – to create a bizarre plot line for your reality show involving your deceased mom coming back as your son?!
Honestly, Cherie seems pretty innocent, so it’s hard to buy that this would have been a constructed plot line. But like, who knows!?!
To add some tension to the show, there’s Kelly’s relationship drama, which again begs the question of “how real is this?” On an impromptu trip to Paris, her boyfriend Andrew goes absolutely nuts on her over the phone for not waking him up from a nap to join her shopping, or some ridiculousness like that. And as if that didn’t make it explicitly clear that this is a very troubled, emotionally abusive relationship, there’s the couples therapy sessions we get to sit in on.
Eventually, after basically everyone on the show plus her own therapist tells her she needs to break it off with this douche, Kelly finds the strength to tell him he needs to move out. But that’s not before he acts all full on desperate and mentally unstable furiously praying on his hands and knees in the therapist’s waiting room that she won’t break up with him.
So like, is he really nuts, or did he just strike out and get played that hand by the show’s producers!? Either way, not a great move for his personal brand.
Lastly, in terms of big moments into which I must dig deeper, there’s Christine’s pregnancy plot line. For ten years, Christine and her husband struggled to get pregnant. A journey which the couture queen revealed was made unbearable by her horrible in-laws, who blamed and shamed her for not being able to provide an heir to their no-longer-existent royal bloodline. Pressured by her husband to try for a second child barely a year after having their “miracle Baby G,” Christine reveals that following years of IVF and failed attempts, she cannot open herself back up to the scrutiny of his family. Especially considering – real shocker – they lied the entire time!! Turns out she wasn’t the problem, but her husband who had to have multiple surgeries to be able to conceive.
Basically, she took the fall for their fertility issues to keep him looking good in his family’s eyes. But like, if you legit had a ten-years-long grift where you’ve been lying to your husband’s family about something pretty big, would you then feel the need to immediately spill that secret the second you get put on a reality show?
So again, was that whole plot a crazy lie, or was she just crazy enough to tell the truth?
As you can see, whichever way you cut it, this show is a very compelling watch. And if not for the all of the major question mark moments, then for the totally over-the-top fashion and big glitzy parties.
Parties which I must mentioned always featured hundreds of fake candles. A personal pet peeve of mine which just looks so horrendously tacky, no?