I spent the first half of my Sunday arguing with my ex-boyfriend about a drunken argument from two years prior, and the second half of my Sunday watching Richie Rich on Netflix. I would bring every choice of my life so far into question from these two conscious decisions alone, but there are plenty of reasons I should have done that anyway.
The new Richie Rich ten-episode car crash is an incredible one that I could spend the remainder of my days questioning. It takes place in a microcosm not entirely unlike the Third Reich, populated with overprivileged assholes who are all centered around the endless, confusing fortune amassed by a kid whose destiny it is to deny this role for the rest of his life.
Episode 1: Man$ion Warming
The inherited premise of Richie Rich is from the original Harvey Comics character from Alfred Harvey and Warren Kremer, featuring a wealthy kid who does good with his family and friends. It’s a weird premise to get so popular, but the rights were cheap enough that Netflix OK’d it being developed into a series as part of a deal with DreamWorks Animation’s Awesomeness TV to produce three hundred hours of original content.
As the 2015 Richie opens on a completely CG mansion, it is the first of many cheap effects that makes you wonder why they didn’t just write them out. Every character except for Richie’s father and his sexy maid, who has been repurposed into a robot, have been scrubbed in favor of caricatures of materialism, sexism and anti-Semitism that would have given the original 1950s cartoonists pause.
The titular character explains in the nasally narrated title sequence that he became a trillionaire (not a thing) who made his fortune turning his vegetables into an alternative fuel source, and don’t you worry about receiving any sort of explanation because it isn’t coming. We are then led to assume that Richie sold his creation in exchange for a CG house and resumed his fifth grade education, professionally mugging at the camera and being the Aryan dreamboy that will grow up to be the head of his frat.
That being said, this show made me laugh constantly. In a “is this really the career I have chosen” kind of way.
Highlight: The half-heartedly Photoshopped family photos littered throughout the house that claims to boast acres of space, but is filmed in a total of two rooms.
Episode 2: Royal Flu$h
I don’t want to talk down about child actor Jake Brennan, who plays the titular character, but his smug little child sex robot-lusting face is begging to have a hatchet taken to it. A little investigation shows that Brennan and his older sister Cassie have both been on a steady stream of guest appearances in other unremarkable roles. A little imagination lead me to believe that it is a cruelly hatched parental scheme to get a summer home and pay for too-expensive private college educations for the children Brennan, as well as ruin them for the remainder of their earthly lives.
Who knows, though, the Sprouse twins grew up to be pretty good-humored.
Highlight: Richie’s dad clogs a toilet with a massive dump, sexbot is denied a vacation as a result.
Episode 3: The Set Up
Are we sure that this series wasn’t developed by Disney? Because it really seems to pick on Jewish people, as demonstrated by Richie’s stodgy, bagel-chomping best friend Murray, who doubles as his accountant.
What is there to say about Murray? He is constantly bugging out about the rate at which Richie and Darcy spend money, he wears the same three sweater-vests in rotation for the entire series and his nasal whine has all of the grating qualities of a Woody Allen character without any of the depth or, most importantly, the acknowledgement that he is Jewish.
There’s an episode in the Rich saga where Murray mentions going to Sunday school, which is possibly the funniest joke in the entire series. There’s another episode where he falls in love with a girl named Tulip who is wearing a painfully genetic t-shirt that says “Soccer.” Don’t worry, he insinuates, in his signature nebbish tone, that he’ll have her sign a pre-nup, and it’s so blatant that it’s almost satire.
But don’t worry, it’s not. And it leaves Murray to be the series’ most unbelievable, ultimately funniest character. Too bad he’s been placed in a self-contained, 21st century Third Reich, complete with sex robot and roller coaster.
Highlight: Richie and Harper hating their dad so much that they set him up on an online date, not because they wish him happiness, but because he won’t stop asking them to “play” when they’re trying to waste their vegetable money in peace.
Also, why is this the episode without an inane dollar $ign in the title? What give$?
Episode 4: The Wonderful Thing$ He Doe$
When I sunk endless hours into watching the idiot parents on That’s So Raven constantly being outsmarted by their kids, my dad used to complain about the way adults were portrayed on kids’ shows.
“How can these smart kids come from these morons?” he’d ask me, and then he’d slip on a banana peel and fall down a 14-story spiral staircase into a huge pool of pudding before giggling like a baby and falling asleep.
An inherited trope of the pre-teen demographic show is the unexplainably idiotic parent. Whether it’s the incompetent parents in Disney Channel shows like Good Luck Charlie and the inimitable Dog With a Blog, showing kids adults failing is an understandable writing crutch that is taken to a painful degree in the Rich saga. Richie’s dad has an IQ that hovers somewhere around room temperature, to the point where he can’t even muster the hackneyed lessons that these characters traditionally teach their kids at the end of these canned shows.
Instead, the aptly named Dad, who never hints at where the mother is or whether she even exists, spends his time being avoided by his kids, dressing in drag and abandoning his children to participate in a fantasy football draft. While his socks-and-sandals aesthetic is supposed to indicate ineptitude, all signs point to an unfit parent who should probably be institutionalized.
Highlight: The introduction of fedora-wearing fellow kid millionaire Taj.
“A woman with no emotion? Yes please!” Taj yells. He is a young black billionaire, a fact we are made aware of by his constant use of the word “dawg!” and “dang!.”
Episode 5: The Madne$$ of Queen Harper
A lot of the upset around this series has been the replacement of the comic strip maid Irona with a sexy 21-year-old Brooke Wexler. Wexer is a French maid robot who wears knee-high socks and is constantly put down by Richie for not either cleaning a toilet that his dad clogged or being less sexy by delivering messages in other peoples’ voices. The only effort to make her a robot is a moderately auto-tuned voice, an avoidance of contractions and an exceedingly wooden acting job.
Here’s a good point to mention that every female in this show is completely motivated by being a raging, manipulative bitch. The best example of this is Richie’s sister Harper, who is a teenage intellectual who hates her kid brother until she needs money. Harper is seen in this episode mauling a punching bag of a teacher who gave her a B and learning her lesson by ‘emptying her mind.’ Her random, baseless shrieks get old quickly, and before I knew it, I found myself identifying with Richie, a character who would undoubtedly drug my jungle juice were he ten years older.
The original goodwill associated with the Richie Rich character is expressed through his indulgence of his vapid, ethnically ambiguous hot child friend Darcy, who looks like a tiny Rashida Jones. Richie shrugs as she spends millions of his dollars at a time, as my child bride Murray squeaks stereotypes about investing instead of spending money on clothes.
The sexbot? Disturbing. The screechy, cast dependent women who are shut up by money by the passive, get-rich-quick Richie who believes that paying his buddy is a substitute for being a good friend.
Highlight: The five minutes I fell asleep and had a waking nightmare about my roommates catching me watching this show.
Episode 6: More or Le$$
The canned laughter in this show is the same every single time, played at various volumes and lengths. I imagine the lead producer of the show trapping a series of passersby in a room and loudly threatening to kill himself if they didn’t laugh, right now.
Of course, this is a pipe dream – the laughter of Richie Rich was almost certainly downloaded from YouTube.
Highlight: “I only criticize Darcy because I care about her!” Murray shrieks in response to rightfully shaming her for spending millions of his friend’s money while Richie stands by shrugging.
“You’re right, Murray!” I shout at the TV screen.
“Just wait until I’m eighteen!” he says to the camera. “We will find each other!”
Episode 7: Snowball Effect
I went to college with a girl who was on All That when she was a pre-teen and has spent the ten ensuing years trying to get everyone around her to forget, and I can’t help but feel that every member of the Richie Rich cast will be doing the same thing as they pursue a career in art movies.
This is the episode that Darcy (Jenny Ortega) will spend the remainder of her puberty trying to scrub from the Internet. She sings a weird parody of “Let it Go” that features the young actress singing a song about how she wants Murray to freeze in Antarctica. It hits a series of wooden marks that you can almost hear her mother hissing at her from the sidelines to nail. Even the canned applause is half-hearted.
Highlight: There’s a scene in a “helicopter” in this episode that is literally just recorded lines of Richie and the sexbot speaking over stock footage of a helicopter.
Episode 8: Good Deeds
I had trouble paying attention to this one because my heart was dying inside of my chest, I had run out of mac ‘n’ cheese and got distracted by the realization that this entire show is filmed in two rooms. Also, Murray has a nemesis named Saul Rubenstein in this episode and Jesus Christ I love this stupid, stupid character. Who allowed him to happen?
Highlight: Richie making Harper scream to bother a room into submission so he can state his latest decree.
Episode 9: $pooky $tuff
This entire episode has no synced audio, and if there were more evidence of a pulse of self-awareness earlier in this series, this is the point that I would declare the entire series an inexpensive social experiment. What is the $pooky $tuff in this episode? I have no idea. Watch this episode with a fever, and I can personally guarantee that you’ll have an out-of-body experience.
Highlight: The first two seconds, where dialogue is heard over the Netflix logo that opens the show, sending a chill down your spine and an omen of the confusion to come.
Episode 10: Fir$t Love
In the final episode on what I am prepared to wager is the final episode of the series, Richie’s sexbot Irona glitches and is replaced with an age-appropriate sexbot who is cleverly named Urona. Autotuned vagina slaves are exchangeable when you’re a tiny, tiny Rupert Murdoch. Richie fires Urona so he can go out with her – she’s not into it. Richie decides to teach his viewers how it’s done.
“I’m not taking no for an answer!” he says, and lo and behold – she gives in! Love is just a series of wearing people down, something I should remind my ex during our next argument.
Highlight: “Yeah, she’s toast,” Richie affirms when Irona glitches. “Take her away.”
Take it away, TAKE IT ALL AWAY.
If Richie Rich is indicative of anything, it’s that Netflix needs to add a couple of asterisks when it comes to agreeing to develop such a large lump of programming. Here’s a suggestion:
*You are not allowed to crap in your hand for four and a half hours and pass it off as a children’s show.
I give up.