Fantasmas: Are Cunty Little Rich Kids and The True Women of New York Real TV Shows?

Image Credit: Atsushi Nishijima/HBO

In HBO’s ‘Fantasmas,’ Julio Torres presents a world painted in a completely different light that seems more real than ever. Each episode peels off a new layer, presenting it as a mix of absurdity and realism. This is particularly reflected in the pop culture references in the fictional TV shows inspired by real TV shows. The fifth episode mentions two TV shows that seem more real than all the absurd things happening in Julio’s world. What are these shows about, and how close do they come to presenting real life from the unique lens of ‘Fantasmas’? SPOILERS AHEAD

Fantasmas Parodies Teen and Reality Shows

‘Cunty Little Rich Kids’ and ‘The True Women of New York’ are clear references to popular teen supernatural dramas and reality shows that have enjoyed popularity with the audience for a very long time. ‘Cunty Little Rich Kids: School of Magic’ is in its fifteenth season in ‘Fanstmas’ and its star is an actor called Dustin (played by Dylan O’Brien), who is going through an existential crisis because he has suddenly realized that the world is unfair and effed-up. He is doing nothing to change it. He also mentions that he has been doing the show for fifteen seasons, and despite being 39 years old, he is still playing a teenager.

Thematically, Dustin’s show seems to share commonalities with popular teen dramas like ‘Riverdale’ and ‘The Vampire Diaries,’ with a hint of shows like ‘Gossip Girl.’ The fact that Dustin is in his late thirties and still plays a teenager after fifteen years of being on the same show also parodies actors in their late 20s and early 30s playing young adults who remain the same age over the course of several seasons.

Similarly, ‘Fantasmas’ takes a jab at reality shows like ‘The Real Housewives’ series, which have been popular since their inception and have branched into all sorts of spin-offs focusing on different cities. With ‘Fantasmas’ set in New York, we get ‘The True Women of New York,’ like the absurd tone of the show, the fictional TV series also comes with a different layer of weirdness, giving more depth to the HBO series.

These fictional TV shows within the TV show also open the door for unlikely cameos that make the whole thing even more delightful. Via ‘Cunty Little Rich Kids,’ we get Dylan O’Brien, who dons a red lingerie set because his character’s luggage was lost and he had to wear his agent, Vanesja’s clothes. The show’s title also works well with Justin’s speech about seeing the world through the eyes of a man who cannot leave the subway to take a dump because he doesn’t have the money to come back in.

The show does something similar with Emma Stone’s cameo in ‘The True Women of New York’ and Paul Dano’s cameo in ‘Melf,’ a twisted version of the popular sci-fi series ‘ALF.’ These shows set the context for the scene at the end of Episode 5, where Julio finds himself pitching a show called ‘How I Came Out to My Abuela’ to a Zappos executive played by Natasha Lyonne.

Read More: Is Fantasmas Based on Julio Torres’ Real Life?