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    Rich Kids of SA – Flashy new reality show

    The new reality show 'Rich Kids' offers a peephole into a weird and strangely sad world of plenty, writes Rebecca Davis.

    The best things in life are free? Puhleeze! That's just what poor people whisper to themselves at night to compensate for the fact that they can't afford 17 Mercs and a really dope collection of sneakers. Try telling it to the stars of Vuzu Amp's new reality show, Rich Kids.

     

    It used to be that if you wanted to see a reality show featuring inexplicably rich people rolling around in troughs of money, you'd have to watch something American. But look how far we've come, baby: South Africa now has its very own version. Rich Kids promises to introduce us to a whole bunch of home-grown youngsters with the tastes of Marie Antoinette and the wardrobes of Mobutu Sese Seko. South Africa, alive with possibility.

     

    The true horror of the show's first episode was not its unambiguous celebration of wealth in one of the most unequal countries on earth. It was that the first rich kid they showcased, 21-year-old Sandton dude Nape, seemed like a genuinely nice, ordinary guy in a lot of ways.

    Why didn't he feel weird about describing his sneaker collection to an iPhone?

    It was strange that Nape didn't come off as more obnoxious, because he said a lot of quite obnoxious things, objectively considered.

    "Yeah sure, I could buy a R15 000 pair of Christian Louboutins, and I did," he said at one point. I didn't even know Christian Louboutin made shoes for men.

    "It's always so important to keep your shoes mint," he explained later, rubbing at an invisible spot.

    Although Nape went around dropping cash like it was hot, it was clearly essential for the show's purposes that he was captured on camera doing something really rich. As a result, quite a lot of the episode was taken up with him visiting a jeweller in Pretoria to buy a watch.

    "My dad's got a pretty sweet timepiece collection," he said. "Hell yeah, who wouldn't want a fine timepiece collection?"

    I didn't even know people existed in real life who call watches "timepieces".

    His parents rocked up to buy him the timepiece, and they were also disappointingly hard to dislike. Like their son, they just seemed sort of ordinary and nice, if you could overlook the fact that they were shelling out R60 000 for a watch. Earlier we were told that they bought Nape his flat "in cash". This show is basically just a gilt-edged invitation to kidnappers.

    Is it churlish to criticise these scions of the South African elite? They're not spending public money; their parents have presumably worked hard for it. Many of the children to be featured on the show are black, and there's undoubtedly a kind of satisfaction in seeing young black South Africans able to live with the affluence considered the birthright of white South Africans for generations.

    But the show also encourages these children to inventory their material possessions in a way that feels hollow and grim. At the end, Nape said something heartfelt about how his real riches lay in his relationships, but it felt a bit empty after all the talk about sneakers and timepieces.

    I was reminded of the scene in The Great Gatsby where the title character flings open his closet to reveal his shirt collection and Daisy bursts into tears.

    "They're such beautiful shirts," she sobs. "It makes me sad because I've never seen such beautiful shirts."

    Perhaps Vuzu Amp wants we viewers to be Daisy to their Gatsby, but the viewing experience is much more conflicted than that.

    Picture credit: timeslive.co.za

     

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