Netflix has canceled the reality show franchise “Bling Empire,” the streaming service confirmed to NBC News on Friday.
“Bling Empire,” which follows the lives of wealthy Asian Americans in Los Angeles, and its New York City spinoff, “Bling Empire: New York,” will not be returning to the platform. The news, first reported by Deadline, comes just months after the spinoff premiered in January.
Netflix did not provide further comment on the cancellation.
“Bling Empire,” premiered its first season in January 2021. The franchise was largely considered groundbreaking in a reality show space long criticized for its lack of diversity.
However, many in the Asian American community have been split on its premise. Some argued that the cast members’ wealth and privilege sought to perpetuate stereotypes around Asian Americans being affluent. And many said that the show’s premiere during the pandemic was tone-deaf, as it coincided with the massive economic losses that many Asian-owned businesses suffered due to the heightened anti-Asian hate.
“But why does our society continue to celebrate the privileged 1 percent that does not represent the vast majority of our human experience, let alone the Asian American experience, especially when our country is suffering through a pandemic and economic crisis?” writer Michelle Yang wrote in an op-ed.
Others noted that the show’s greenlighting following the 2018 blockbuster success “Crazy Rich Asians,” which featured fictional, similarly wealthy Asian characters, seemed to suggest that Hollywood was only interested in spotlighting the lives of rich Asians.
However, some argued that the messy, imperfect and, at times, mediocre storylines of the shows are what made them so powerful.
“Bling Empire creates a conditional space that normalizes the experience of seeing Asian people acting foolishly, propelled by pettiness or generosity at turns, moved by lust as often as shame, holding petty grudges about inconsequential disputes and then making stilted attempts at reconciliations,” Jean Chen Ho wrote in Harper’s Bazaar. “All of it the messy stuff of being human, a privilege the white majority has always enjoyed playing out on screen without fear of casting embarrassment onto the entire race.”