Highlighting the insanely glamorous and luxurious lifestyles of the affluent Asian and Asian-American socialites who reside in some of the most opulent homes in Los Angeles, Netflix’s ‘Bling Empire’ is a series that brings ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ from the reel world to the real world.
The plot of this series isn’t very complicated, as the focus primarily remains on the cast members themselves. These characters dominate the Hollywood social scene by throwing extravagant parties, all the while navigating their interpersonal relationships. Of course, this leads to an addictive drama, which thus begs the question: is the show real or fake?
Is Bling Empire Scripted?
To cut a long story short, no, ‘Bling Empire’ is not scripted. In an interview with Oprah Magazine, show-runner Brandon Panaligan attested that almost all of the moments we see on our screens in the series are entirely organic. “We tapped into the energy of a group who already know each other and are invested in each other’s lives,” he said. “That’s the magic in starting a show like this – it’s not forced. We brought our cameras into a world that was already there.” He even went as far as to imply that because the cast is very familiar with one another, there was no point in scripting the scenes; everything, including the drama, just fell into place.
Brandon Panaligan and Jeff Jenkins (executive producer) were both individually inspired to create a completely unconventional unscripted reality series set in the world of the Asian elite after watching the massively successful book-trilogy-turned-movie, ‘Crazy Rich Asians.’ For them, when they joined forces, coming into a world “with rivalries and friendships and loyalties preexisting” was crucial, as then, “the only question was whether or not they would let us document them.” Anna Shay, the eldest of the elites and the most private, was mortified about letting some things come out in the open, but she still gave her approval.
Kevin Kreider, a Korean-Pennsylvania adoptee, model, and the ordinary man of the ‘Bling Empire’ group, also talked about being on the series to further corroborate just how real everything is. “I really hope people give this show a chance and look beyond the fancy stuff, the bling, because underneath all of that are real Asian-American stories,” he admitted to Newsweek on a phone interview. “It’s not just about making money and spending it. These are real human stories – people trying to find their identity and connect with others, getting over insecurities and abandonment, finding their past and their family, and finding their place in the world.”
Kevin even talked about his genuine relationship with Kane Lim, a Singaporean heir, investor, and developer. “I met Kane as soon as I arrived. He was the first guy I met in L.A,” he said, adding with a laugh that “he’s pretty much the only person you really need to know.” With that connection, becoming best friends with Kane within a week of their first introductions, Kevin became friends with the other cast members as well. Thus, in the year between pitching the show in 2018 and filming it in 2019, Kevin learned how to merge with them, forming his own opinions on the people surrounding him day in and day out for the unforeseeable future.