Stream or skip?

+2023

Stream or skip? +2023

There seems to be a lot of shows lately where family members fight for control of an empire, whether the patriarch or matriarch who created them is alive, dead, or somewhere in between. It was mainly an American phenomenon, but the UK is not immune to such a suds, a new Prime Video series reveals.

RICHES: Stream or skip?

opening shot: Scenes of downtown London. On our way we see ads from Flair & Glory, a family business that makes hair products for black women.

The essentials: Stephen Richards (Hugh Quarshie) talks to a reporter about F&G’s growing empire despite Britain’s institutional racism and other longstanding adversities. However, when the reporter brings up Stephen’s adult children from his first marriage, Stephen refuses to answer.

In New York, Nina Richards (Deborah Ayorinde) is celebrated at her marketing firm after she’s just been promoted to vice president. She receives a mysterious phone call and is furious when she hears Stephen’s voice on the other end; He left her family – her mother Oyin (Jumoke Fashola) and her brother Simon (Emmanuel Imani) – 30 years ago and she has no desire to speak to him.

Shortly after the call, Stephen suffers a stroke and collapses. While he’s dying in the hospital, his current wife Claudia (Sarah Niles) yelling at everyone, his other three children – Alesha (Adeyinka Akinrinade), heir apparent Gus (Ola Orebiyi) and Wanda (Nneka Okoye) – each have their own reactions. Alesha turns off the phone while filming makeup videos and only finds out Stephen has died the next day.

Nina and Simon are encouraged to come to London for the funeral by Stephen’s attorney and executor, Gideon Havelock (Brendan Coyle). Nina has the feeling that she doesn’t mourn anything, but Simon convinces her. They end up missing the funeral because an insignificant Claudia delayed the time. But they are in time for the reading of the will, where they shockingly find out that Stephen is giving them all the shares in F&G and is shunning Claudia, Gus, Alesha and Wanda entirely.

First, Nina wants to get rid of the shares, to hell with the tax consequences. But then she remembers how her mother came up with the idea for F&G and gets angry about how Stephen and Claudia essentially stole the company under Oyin. She also wonders, after her father called and the will was changed, if something was going on. She is just about to transfer the shares when an insult from Claudia tells Nina that her path could only lead as head of F&G.

riches
Photo: David Hindley/Prime Video

What shows will it remind you of? riches is essentially a British version of the OWN series Kings of Napathe ABC series promised land, the Fox series Rich and Monarch, and of course the HBO hit successor.

Our opinion: We think that under the soapiness of riches, the show aims to say something about the experiences of African immigrants in Britain and how difficult it was for someone like Stephen Richards to found F&G and grow it into the empire it is now. But creator Abby Ajayi, whose recent credits include mushy shows like invent Anna and How to get away with murderburies any message she’s trying to convey under familial rivalries and snarling dialogue.

Luckily, the cast is up to the task of all the campiness. The highlights here are Ayorinde as determined Nina and Sarah Niles as her toxic stepmother, Claudia. Actually, Niles is a revelation here, as she is best known on this side of the Atlantic for her very low-key role as psychologist Sharon Fieldstone Teddy Lasso. But she has also shown versatility in her other roles, and here she is the perfect kisser as Claudia. She treats people like shit and doesn’t care; She cheats on Stephen with Andre Scott-Clarke (CJ Beckford), the lawyer she hired for F&G, after Stephen and Gideon had a brief argument. She has no problem insulting Nina’s mother as Nina holds her pen over the papers that will hand over her shares in the company.

In other words, Claudia is written as a fairly fully realized character, as are Nina and Simon. Gus, Wanda, and Alesha are a bit more one-dimensional; We know they are spoiled and entitled and know nothing of the struggle their father went through to make F&G what it is. Hopefully Ajayi will round them out as the series progresses and they try to get back from Nina what they think is rightfully theirs.

As we learn at the end of the episode, Stephen was close to losing F&G and his stroke may not have been a natural cause. These two mysteries will move along with the family drama riches along and give the show lots of dramatic places to go. We just wish there was a little deeper story beneath all that foam.

gender and skin: Nina has sex with a guy she meets in a bar in New York and then sends him away. All other genders in the episode are implied.

farewell shot: Nina tells Simon about Stephen’s call and says she needs him to stay with her in London. “I have to find out what happened,” she says.

sleeping star: Emmanuel Imani provides some fun as Nina’s brother Simon, and the two definitely make a good team to take on against their spoiled half-siblings and the sneaky Claudia.

Most pilot line: In a video he made to accompany his will, Stephen says, “Well then I must be dead” and chuckles. Way to read the room, dead Stephen!

Our appeal: Stream it. If it weren’t for Deborah Ayorinde and especially Sarah Niles, we’d probably be telling people to shut up riches because it’s so overly soapy. But the two leads are so compelling that viewers will definitely skip to at least the second episode after the first is over.

Joel Keller (@joelkeller) writes about food, entertainment, parenting and technology, but he doesn’t fool himself: He’s a TV junkie. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Slate, Salon, RollingStone.com, VanityFair.comFast Company and elsewhere.

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