Generally speaking, Netflix Originals are things to be savored, cooed over, and adored. Shows like Marvel’s Daredevil, House of Cards, and Orange is the New Black have paved the way for streaming services to become the new TV. This is all very exciting.
And then you get Netflix Original “Richie Rich” Reboot.
Richie Rich, as a series, is the atomic wasteland of Netflix original programming, and not in a fun Dystopia kind of way.
The show is aimed at kids to tweens, think the Hannah Montana age bracket, but where Hannah Montana at least had some corporate America moral values plugged into every episode, Richie Rich is a soulless husk demon bent on devouring basic human decency.
Think I’m exaggerating? I really wish I were.
The problem starts with the premise. The original Richie Rich, of comic, cartoon, and Culkin fame, was the child of rich parents, he had oversight and a very cool Butler named Cadbury. He was spoiled so far as he never had to ask for anything, but he was also shown, particularly in the Culkin films, to be lonely, isolated, and a bit naive.
Netflix Richie is like a Twilight Zone Eldritch Monster in comparison. NetRichie apparently turned uneaten vegetables into a fuel source that “eliminated the need for carbon based fuel”….which laughs in the face of reality since ALL KNOWN LIFE ON EARTH is Carbon based. Vegetables are carbon based. Protein, Acid, Carbohydrates, Lipids; it’s all carbon based. So turning any kind of natural food into a “Carbon-Free” fuel source is not just terrible research but fundamentally bad science. So here’s the lesson kids, disobey your parents, avoid nutrition = BECOME A TRILLIONAIRE! But this minor point is really only the tip of the giant iceberg of offal that this show is made of.
Richie lives with his father and sister, his two “friends” who never seem to leave, and his sexbot, I mean his “supermodel-model Latina robot maid”.(Supermodel-model because Richie intimates that he could have picked a less sexy version but decided to spend the extra money on the wet dream one, despite the fact that he’s 11 and his balls haven’t dropped)
There isn’t a single cast member that isn’t some kind of awful stereotype and I couldn’t get through a minute without hating every one of them. The only non-awful character is the sexbot, and that’s only because she’s the Robot version of Margaret Atwood’s “Handmaid’s Tale.”
The writing on this show is terrible as it relies mainly on overused one-liners that saw their best days several decades ago. Its shallow, boring, and filled with the kind of casual sexism and disregard that I’d expect to see on Leave it to Beaver. There is literally no redeeming qualities to this series. I would rather watch literally anything else. This show is facile and dumb, it takes up space just for the sake of taking up space. It should be wiped from the internet like a bug on a rainy windscreen.
As an artist myself, I understand how much hard work goes into making a finished product. However it feels like everyone on this show dropped the ball. It’s shocking and surprising that Netflix executives didn’t block the show after the script was finalized. I have to hope that they literally DO NOT KNOW the travesty of this show as opposed to being willfully ignorant of its total and complete lack of value.
My biggest issue is that this is not a show that should be available for kids to watch in the 21st century. The show is casually racist, sexist, and has no heart or soul. It promotes harmful stereotypes and champions a culture of conspicuous consumption that would make Donald Trump feel woozy. It wants to go head to head with Disney and Nickelodeon but it’s like the wraith of dead pilots past their time. Richie Rich tries to have some moral lessons, (don’t cheat, be kind, tell the truth, etc) a staple for the tween genre, but falls flat on the implementation. It’s hollow and base.
This show is the visual time-based equivalent of eating empty calories laced with arsenic. It’s not JUST bad for you. It’s literally poison.
The most blatant issue is the stereotypes and the awful characters. I’m going to give you a rundown of the characters, starting with the male characters. The show has three males and three females and both sets seem to form a triad of terrible stereotypes. Richie is Affluenza incarnate, His father is an Idiot, and his “Friend” makes Urkel look like Brad Pitt. On the female side, Richie’s sister Harper is a Shrew, His Friend is a Gold-Digger, and the maid is a Sex Object.
Show already sounds amazing right? Well lets dig a little deeper:
Richie is your standard White, Blond, blue-eyed, “Hero” *cough* undeserving moron. Where the Culkin movie had vulnerabilities and desires, NetRichie is a paper doll made by Rupert Murdoch. He has JUST become super wealthy after presumably living in some kind of squalor (first episode suggests that they didn’t even have enough beds for the three family members at their old house), but his goals are basically…………nothing. He wants….nothing. The character doesn’t have any goals beyond whatever momentary inanity is happening in the scene. His BIG PROBLEM in episode one is that he promised his friends that he’d take them to a concert but his dad wants to have Family game night. *Yawn* This is an OLD trope. Pretty sure Wizards of Waverly Place had a family game night episode like 7 years ago. And that one had the cops getting called. He doesn’t tell his friends about family game night because he’s an easily manipulated moron who doesn’t understand friendship and/or how to think and talk at the same time. It’s suggested that he cares about his friends, (One is his employee and the other a Gold Digger), but it’s mostly superficial materialism. Friend gets mauled by your Gorilla habitat? After stealing your money to buy an indoor sky diving apparatus? Buy her tickets to a concert! That’ll fix it! Everyone can be bought with money! Including Love, Companionship, and Authenticity. NetRichie has little interest in his family and blatantly objectifies is sexbot, I mean “supermodel model robot maid”.
Speaking of characters that blatantly objectify the SexBot, I mean “Supermodel model Robot Maid”, Richie’s male “friend” Murray, who doubles as his “money manager” and dresses/acts like a stereotypical nerd from a 50s comic book; glasses, cardigan, casual sexism, and general whininess included. He is also a very terrible Jewish miser stereotype, which the writer’s try to cover by having him mention having his “bagel money stolen at Sunday school”. We see what you did there Writers, you aren’t fooling anyone. His two catch phrases are “I need to call my chiropractor, and my attorney” and “I can’t believe you PAID for this?”
He’s like 11 and blatantly ogles the Sexbot, talks about how she’s “Money well spent” to Richie in front of her, and is basically the “Miser” foil to Darcy’s Gold-digger. He apparently has no parents, no school, no life, outside of saying canned lines about not spending money, when the whole point of the show is “Boy Trillionaire: What Now?” He’s boring, limp, and irritating, but quick to lash out with emotional blackmail at Richie should he feel like the Rich kid is getting out of he and Darcy’s grasp. He’s a dweeb and will end up in prison before he’s 20 for some kind of tax fraud.
The final male is Richie’s father, who quite clearly has some kind of developmental disability which the show blatantly milks as a punch line pretty much every time he shows up. Richie refers to his father “showering in the neighbors sprinklers” at their old house and the man appears to have the mental age of a bossy 8 year old. In the first episode he demands Family Game Night, but won’t actually treat or address the real problems that are pulling his family apart. He can’t enforce rules, he has no control over his children, and he barely understands things at a 2nd grade level. This isn’t completely obvious in the first episode, but it becomes more blatant as the show moves along. In the first episode he apparently has trouble with doorknobs as a concept. He later uses lies to force his kids to hang out with him. As the only adult on the show he’s limp, lackluster, and pathetic. One has to wonder how he managed to keep two children fed and sheltered before Richie’s money, since he doesn’t appear to have that many skills. He actively discourages his daughters studying habits, despite her desire to attend Harvard. He also acts like a 6 year old when around attractive women, so one has to wonder how he managed to impregnate Richie and Harper’s mother. The only logical explanation I can come up with is a horrific accident that killed his wife left him with severe brain damage. Which is really sad if you think about it.
So now we come to the women of the show. And I just need to take a moment to breathe. Come with me now and bask in the sheer audacity of this show. You see, without knowing the context, it’s easy to think that the women in this show are actually some awful stereotypes drawn from an MRA Eliot Rogers style rant. I do not see this as an exaggeration. Let’s get to it.
Harper is Richie’s sister and she is a total shrew. As one of the few characters on the show with an actual desire, all she wants is to go to Harvard. Sadly that is the total depth of her character. She also seems to think her family will ruin everything… Despite the fact that she could buy Harvard several times so she is now basically guaranteed a spot anywhere. Rich people buy their way into Ivy Leagues all the time. Her character is basically sexless, with no interest in anything but studying and she has a deep hatred of Richie for no apparent reason. He bought her the Harvard library and she is still hateful and threatening. She hates hanging out with her father, but he seems to bother her way more than he bothers Richie. Her father is constantly pestering her and trying to ruin her study habits and her character is basically a one trick pony, but that’s par for all the characters in this show. She only helps Richie when it’s in her self interest. Her outfits are dull and sexless compared to the other girls on the show (including the 11 year old Darcy), a bit frumpy. Richie treats his sister either as a pain or as a minion.
The second female is WOC GoldDigger Darcy, another 11 year old “friend” with apparently no parents or morals when it comes to stealing blatantly from her friends. One of the two WOC, her ethnic background isn’t clear, but in regards to the rest of the cast she’s clearly a character of color. She’s quick to accuse Richie of “breaking her heart” (Read: Not doing what she wants), but just as quick to steal his gold, his money, and his bank account numbers. I mean this literally. Her official role on the show is “Money Spender” to Murray’s “Money Manager”, because you know women, they just spend spend spend, and have no self control or ability to plan for the future. In episode 6 Richie “cuts her off” and she throws a huge fit. She seems to hit on any rich men that show up, such as the neighbor, and is clearly looking for a Sugar Daddy. She dresses way more stylish than the other two females, in a way that is clearly above her age bracket, in substance not in sexuality. She also has no qualms about wasting exorbitant amounts of other people’s money on nonsense. Murray and Darcy together create this very abusive friendship net around Richie, where they police his actions, force him into dumb situations, and generally play out an angel/devil shoulder dichotomy. But less interesting. Much less interesting.
The last character is Irona and she is the only character I would save from a burning building, despite the fact that as a robot she could probably survive on her own. Irona is a Latina looking sexbot. I mean Robot Slave Maid. Because all Maids must clearly be Latina, in fact when she breaks down in ep10, (Richie seems minimally upset before gleefully sending her away) her replacement is just a shorter younger Latina robot maid. She wears a maid uniform that would be more at home in a porno, with a short skirt, white thigh-highs, and high heels. The skirt does appear to get a little longer over the course of the series, but it’s pretty negligible. What makes her character so tragic is that the terrible one liners the writer’s threw in as every other line paint an extremely bleak picture.
We first meet her when Murray, 11ish remember, ogles her like an object and then blatantly talks about her in front of her. Richie says he splurged on the “Supermodel model” version of the robot maid, to which Murray answers “Money well spent” and gives him a creepy thumbs up.
In Episode 3, Richie sees that his sister changed his wiki page and sees that it also says “Mistreats his Help”. He accuses his sister but the scene makes it obvious that Irona was the one to write it.
In Episode 4, Richie’s neighbor opens with “DANG, Who’s the babe” to which she replies “I am not a babe, I am a robot.” His *genius* and totally nuanced response is:
“A woman with no emotions? Yes, please.” Followed by the canned laugh track. Irona gives a partial shrug.
In episode 10, Irona breaks down and is taken away for reprogramming. Richie then basically sexually harasses the younger robot replacement into dating him. When Irona returns she hears that his is dating a robot, “not that there’s anything wrong with that”
She then says:
“My cousin is dating a human. It makes thanksgivings so awkward” This suggests that not only does she have a family, but a family that gathers for holidays. A family with familial ties. Despite having some 7000 siblings or what have you. If she does have a family that she visits, and people that she cares about, how is she different from a human? And how is her job different from some kind of Whedon-esc Dollhouse hellscape? Irona is basically a programmable slave, and it’s really creepy.
The worst thing is that everyone treats her like an object, even when talking to her face.
These stereotypes are god awful, but when packaged for children, they’re poison. I’m frankly appalled and disgusted that a children’s show with this kind of blatant sexism and harmful female stereotypes was even green lit in the first place.
Now some may say that ‘Freedom of Speech’ should allow show creators to make whatever awful poisonous shows they want, and that may be true for adult media, but children’s media is a different monster. Children’s Media has way more gatekeepers and usually ends up as a condensed version of societal ideals. You can trace things like the women’s rights movement through the emergence of stronger female characters in children’s media. Look at the difference between 1969 Daphne Blake from Scooby Doo with 2004 Daphne Blake? in 2004 she could do karate, use power tools, surf like a pro, while still looking cute and wearing cute shoes.
So I have to reiterate that it isn’t just awful that Richie Rich is badly written, its genuinely evil.
This article is coming out in tandem with our Podcast on the Richie Rich show. Be sure to check that out. The article was written after the podcast and after Thistle subjected herself to several hours of painful exposure to the bile at the bottom of the Netflix trash heap. Proceed with Caution.