‘Empire of ostentation’: The life of the 1% in Hollywood | Television

on one side Show off empire (Bling Empire), Heroes find among the amenities at night a Botox bar where guests can have their lips or eye contours injected. It was a thematic meeting, in which, under the name “Keep It Tight”, attendees received advice from plastic surgeons on how to maintain their fit and abs. At another party, this day, the characters of this reality show Netflix has experimented with one of the latest trends, Meghan Markle is supposed to be doing: mouth massage.

Netflix premiered the second season of this series in February, which follows a group of illustrious Asian billionaires living in Los Angeles. It’s a voyeuristic look at the 1% who inhabit one of the most luxurious and expensive cities in the United States. The ostentatious empire is also following the success trajectory of the blockbuster movie Crazy Rich Asians, which in 2020 broke Hollywood stereotypes of this population. Both seasons take place in the most exclusive boutiques on Rodeo Drive, the massive Malibu and Beverly Hills mansions of the champions and some of their cars, Rolls Royce and Lamborghini.

Parties are a recurring element throughout the series’ 16 episodes. It’s a good narrative excuse to bring together the eight protagonists, who have roots in different Asian countries but have a large joint bank account. At one such party, hosted by Ken Lim, an actor descended from a mysterious Singaporean family decided to spend $4,000 on a dessert table for another night: diamonds and truffles. Anna Shay, one of her guests, doesn’t know how to adjust the dress code despite being a regular customer of Valentino and Boucheron. So ask for help. “I had no idea this time, so I said to myself, ‘Okay, I’ll make a costume.’ So I called [la boutique] We and Alexander McQueen went shopping,” Shay said into the camera. There is no clue on his face. The influential British designer, who committed suicide in 2010, was one of her friends.

Shay became the unexpected star of the series, whose first season premiered in early 2021. She has since gained nearly half a million followers on Instagram, as she shows up in her life among the red carpet, private dinners, and helicopter flights around the world. . The eldest of the cast, she is a generous mother who gives her friends gifts or at exclusive gatherings. But there is also a villainous side to her, and she is always ready to take on the gossip of younger women. The result is an easy-to-consume melodrama that falls into the category of guilty pleasure.

Among so much ostentation, it is impossible for viewers to sooner or later wonder how these people have so much money. Google is a great ally for those who follow the adventures of these rich people and can provide some clues about the origins of their fortunes. It is usually commented superficially by the members of the chain. Lim, for example, says Shay’s millions, in fact billions, come from “weapons, bombs, and defense technology.”

Shay is the daughter of American businessman Edward Shay and his wife Ai San Shae of Japanese descent. The family business was Pacific Architects and Engineers, a defense firm that developed top-secret projects for the Pentagon, NASA and the United Nations. In 2006, the family sold the company to arms giant Lockheed Martin for $1.2 billion. Some of these funds can be seen spread across the chain. Shay bought an exotic mansion in 2020 that was put up for sale by Dr. Phil, the famous chauffeur in Talk show Self-help payment of $5.7 million. The dining room with a wall full of machine guns was one of the attractions that made interior designers scream in heaven.

Other wealth is less transparent. This is the case of the Lim family, who became a social The usual thanks to the success of the series. In May, he became one of the cosmetics brand ambassadors for singer Rihanna Fenty. according to Bloomberg, his family is involved, through the oil company Hin Leong Trading (owned by his uncle), in a bank fraud scandal in Singapore. However, Lim did not reveal his family details in the series and said in a general way that his money comes from the energy and real estate sector, among the various malls in the Asian country. Reporters were prevented from asking about his family.

It could be the fact that soap operas appear in a very unequal world. However, it also serves to highlight an ethnic group that has been hit hard during the coronavirus pandemic in the United States. In 2021, civic organizations decreed an “epidemic of hate” against this community. Hate crimes against Asians jumped 177% in California last year, the same year the bragging empire hit the streaming platform. The number represents a 33% increase compared to 2020.

The series destroys the archetypes that were used on television to portray immigrants from Asia. Without falling into anthropological studies, some episodes show the characters’ struggle with ancestral culture from conservative rituals. One parallel story that crosses the two seasons is that of Cherie Chan and Jessey Lee, a married couple who have two children without being married (their firstborn is called Jadore, like Dior’s perfume). Sherry is constantly under social pressure for what it means to be an out-of-wedlock mother in Chinese culture (although she is from British Hong Kong). In the cast there are few ordinary people. Kim Lee is a DJ by profession while Kevin Kreider is a model. They both give a point of view among their billionaire friends. east reality show Don’t be misled by its title.

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