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TV Review: The Riches Takes a Turn for the Worse

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Okay, here it is, in brief:  have the producers of The Riches already run out of ideas?  Cause, that’s the feeling I’m getting. 

I’m not going to say that the whole thing isn’t witty and funny, and smart, at least the dialog and the specifics of their situation.  It is.  The problem, simply put, is that the producers have already pushed the overarching idea of the show, a family of Travellers (gypsies) taking over the lives of deceased Buffers (regular folks) in order to escape other Travellers.  We’re a half-dozen episodes into the series and they’ve already been found by those they were trying to escape. 

Not only that, but one of the other Travellers is moving in with them.  I can’t fathom why Wayne (Eddie Izzard) and Dahlia (Minnie Driver) Malloy agreed to this.  Is the audience to believe that they’re so attached to the lives they stole two weeks earlier that they’re willing to risk the loss of life and limb in order to keep up the charade?  It makes no sense.  If they’ve been caught why can’t they just leave, pretend to be someone else, and find a new place to live?

This newest wrinkle in their lives absolutely provides amusement and the opportunity for hilarity, which is, I’m sure, why it was done, but it doesn’t fit into the overarching scheme of who these people are.  Wayne, Dahlia, and the family are terrified of being caught by their fellow Travellers, they stole a ton of money from them and the head of their band wants it back.  Why would they agree to house a Traveller, even a less intelligent one (and one that believes he’s engaged to their daughter, Di Di)?

Not only is this going to cause huge problems for the Malloys, but it doesn’t have an upside for them.  There is nothing that they get out of doing this, except, allegedly, that the head of the Travellers, Dale, won’t be told of their whereabouts.  But, as noted above, the Malloys can just go somewhere else and hide.  Their boy, Cael, who made a mistake which allowed them to be found has surely learned his lesson, so if they run elsewhere they won’t be discovered again.  There is no earthly reason why the need to continue to pretend to be the Riches (save that the show is named The Riches) over another family.

So, to recap (again):  there’s no upside only a downside to their current actions.  There’s no fathomable reason why they are pursuing this course of action.  The only logical reason for this is that the producers have decided that it’s an interesting twist and never considered the fact that it doesn’t actually fit in with the characters and situation that they’ve previously constructed.  Maybe they were unhappy with the direction of the first few episodes, or the original conceit of the series, either way, this past week marks a radical shift in the show.

I just hope the shift is to the basic nature of the show and that they are trying to rewrite the history of the family, and not a harbinger of a massive downhill slide in the quality of writing.  I don’t think it’s the former, but that’s certainly the least offensive option. 

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About Josh Lasser

Josh has deftly segued from a life of being pre-med to film school to television production to writing about the media in general. And by 'deftly' he means with agonizing second thoughts and the formation of an ulcer.
  • Beth

    I believe that The Riches is one of the finest shows ever produced on TV. Several of the actors deserve awards for their performances, and the head writer and director should be recognized for their immense talents as well. The show is an exploration of how we fit into the lives we’ve constructed–and whether we are ultimately suited to the landscape of our goals and dreams. The Riches are a beautifully acted out metaphor for the various dark agonies we suffer from time to time. The show deals with questions such as: are we frauds in our own skins? Will our past decisions ever stop haunting us? Will our natures be malleable enough to allow us to evolve–or will we simply break? Can we hold on to love in the midst of chaos, confusion, and heartbreaking limitations? Can we protect those we love from the world, and from our own inadequacies? Is there true forgiveness in the world, and if so, can we ever find it, or earn it? These are only some of the questions that the show allows us to ponder–using the Travellers as a stunning vehicle of our own egos, wandering from place to place, trying to convince others that we are something else, attempting to live by an honorable code, even though we are often ravaged in a wilderness of alienation, hypocrisy, failure and loss. I have rarely seen a more tender treatment of the inner torment we suffer, from time to time, and a more touching homage to the ever rejuvenating spirit inside us all. Bravo for the cast, crew and creators of this show. The cancellation of the show adds one last note to the haunting melody that resonated throughout each episode: that we cannot help but be overwhelmed, at times, by people’s inability to recognize true beauty, love and valor in our very midst.