Whether it’s sleeping their way to the top, backstabbing each other for money or simply spending their days in leisure with “”””problems”””” regular people would kill for, rich people in TV shows are truly living the life. High school is often a playground for the rich to bully their way to the top in shows like Gossip Girl and 90210, and in many cases, like in The Real Housewives franchise, living in an expensive zip code makes women feel entitled to show off the zeroes in their bank accounts. While IRL rich people aren’t always the worst — when it comes to TV shows,
I think we can all agree that they are.
17. Gossip Girl
With all the characters on the show attending one of the richest and most exclusive preps, wealth and class divisions are bound to exacerbate the social dramas and bullying. They wear the latest fashion and use their heavy trust funds to one-up each other constantly. Dan and Jenny were bullied in part because they were from Brooklyn instead of the Upper East Side (as if their loft apartment wouldn’t have been SUPER expensive) and, even if you loved the main circle of friends in this show, you had to admit they all were pretty much The Worst. Let’s not forget that Chuck started running his father’s company when he was barely out of high school and that he trades the ~love of his life~ for a hotel.
Similar to to Gossip Girl, the new adaptation of 90210 takes place in one of the most exclusive zip codes in the country, and shows wealthy, privileged kids attending high school in Beverly Hills, and all the drama and extravagance that accompany being a wealthy teenager. They experience drug problems, relationship/friendship ups and downs, and apparently hefty inheritances from movie stars.
15. The Real Housewives Franchise
A franchise that’s mired in petty scandals and meltdowns from some of the richest housewives in the county of each spin-off, these women have bottomless bank accounts to spend. When they get together, they brag about how much wealth they have and what that can afford them, whether it’s starting their own company, recording awful music, getting Botox treatments every week or using the money to organize different parties. When The Real Housewives of Orange County first premiered, Bravo explained that it will look at the lives of privileged women who “are used to the good life and will do everything they can to hang on to it.” Their fights may be iconic, but I think we can all agree we wouldn’t actually want to hang out with them IRL.
Vincent Chase, played by Adrian Grenier, is a Hollywood actor who is living the sweet life with his entourage of friends, all of whom are well-accustomed to the lavish life that comes with celebrity status. Although the show details some of the trials and tribulations of an up-and-coming actor (Vincent is inspired in part by Mark Wahlberg‘s life), those moments of difficulties are outweighed by the extravagant lives of his friends who are enjoying their time going to party after party and relaxing on vacations.
13. Rich Kids of Beverly Hills
The Real Housewives married into or earned their money, but the rich kids are simply born into money and never have to work a day in their life if they don’t want to. Whether it’s Instagramming their lavish lives on a day-to-day basis or planning getaways on a whim, they don’t ever have to worry about debts or student loans or when they’ll get their next paycheck. We’re not saying we would’ve objected to this while we were growing up, but the access these kinds have to money makes them do crazy things sometimes.
12. The O.C.
The show captures the SoCal vibe perfectly as it explores the cultural and social divides among the people who are uber wealthy in Newport and those from Chino, CA who are struggling to graduate high school and make something of themselves. Ryan Atwood, played by Benjamin MacKenzie, is adopted into a wealthy family in Newport and struggles to find his footing in a world of shallow and materialistic people who stick their noses up at the people from not-as-wealthy areas. While Seth Cohen, Summer Roberts, and Marissa Cooper wound up being pretty genuine human beings — the rest of their high school peers were pretty damn awful.
11. One Tree Hill
Okay, so many characters on One Tree Hill aren’t rich, but the rich/poor dichotomy speaks more to how some of the characters were raised in wealthy households and how that shaped them (not quite for the better). Half-brothers Nathan and Lucas, played by James Lafferty and Chad Michael Murray respectively, are a prime example of this. Lucas, raised in a middle-class household grows up to be a sensitive and heartfelt hero whereas Nathan grew up with their wealthy father and used to be cocky and a bit of a hot mess before he met Haley. Brooke Davis, played by Sophia Bush, was a spoiled rich girl who cared only about herself – but when she loses her fortune and has to make her life her own, she becomes the amazing B.Davis we know and love. And let’s not forget Dan, who led a privileged life and used it to distance himself from his sons and sabotage their lives.
10. Arrested Development
The Bluth Family was one of the wealthiest families in Orange County, but their father’s embezzlement and corrupt dealings lost them everything. Even so, apart from their elder son who demonstrates frugality, the rest of the family choose to continue to live as they were before, spending money they don’t have and living in arrangements that they can easily sell to balance costs. No one in the family has a good work ethic, relying on Michael Bluth, played by Jason Bateman, to run the family company and benefit financially off of his hard work.
9. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt finds Kimmy Schmidt, played by Ellie Kemper, and her group of friends navigating the ever-changing cultural landscape of New York City, trying to find their footing in gentrification while also being painfully aware of how good the rich have it. Kimmy’s former employer Jacqueline Voorhees, for instance, had a husband so rich that he invested in a robot which ends up increasing rapidly in New York, taking over odd jobs that struggling people like Kimmy would’ve worked at. Not to mention, the cliquey rich mommies present a stark contrast to how the rest of the New Yorkers live, their days filled with play dates, charity balls and art shows, where they spend money to show their worth.
8. The Bachelor
A show where a handsome man determine which girl he wants to make his wife… by taking all the contestants on luxurious getaways. Need we say more? One of the contestants on Nick Viall‘s season still had a nanny who makes her food. *Cough cough* Corinne Olympios. Raquel, the nanny, makes the 24-year-old’s bed every morning and keeps her life organized. In fact, she’s mentioned before that she can’t bear the thought of having a baby without Raquel around. Sigh.
The whole premise of the show, which is that a girl moves to the Hamptons, right next door to a conniving and backstabbing wealthy family so she can enact her revenge on them for getting her father murdered, is explanation enough how wealth can act as a conduit for corruption. Fraught with murder, family scandals, and drama, this show is deeply embedded in the theme of what money can do to people.
Fraught with backstabbing, terrible relationships, mysterious murders and gold diggers, the newly adapted Dynasty has all the ingredients for a show where rich people are actually the worst. All eyes are on the Carrington wealth as family members fight to determine who will inherit all the wealth and the billion-dollar empire. Did we mention that they live in an actual palace?
5. The Royals
The Royals doesn’t surprise with its scandalous portrayal of a British royal family who’s forced to navigate the pressures of being under the public scrutiny all the while trying to run the country. Prince Liam and Princess Eleanor take advantage of their statuses and try to enjoy the pleasures in life, stereotypically embracing sex and parties as people in rich families apparently do.
4. Big Little Lies
Starring Reese Witherspoon, Shailene Woodley, Nicole Kidman, and Laura Dern, Big Little Lies has no dearth in wealthy characters, all of whom live in sprawling mansions by the beach and drink wine like it’s their job. The show deals with very serious issues but in the scope of wealth and what having so much of it does to people psychologically.
3. Famous in Love
A college student gets her big break in Hollywood and is forced to navigate the pressures that come with the limelight all the while adjusting to the Hollywood lifestyle of love and relationships. As is usual, love and sex, in different forms, always make things complicated, and there are always issues that go hand-in-hand with fame, but given the Hollywood setting and privilege these young characters have, there’s nothing really to fret about.
2. Odd Mom Out
Based on the novel Momzillas by Jill Kargman, Odd Mom Out delves into what goes on inside an Upper West Side mommy clique that favors elite and trendy practices for their kids. Anyone who can’t afford the latest “thing” is judged by her peers – proving that mommy doesn’t ALWAYS know best. It takes a satirical look at the competitive environment of rich moms who attempt to best one another with their products and parenting practices.
1. Scream Queens
The fact that this show takes place in a sorority where the President named several of her minions after herself should already make warning bells go off. Chanel Oberlin, played by Emma Roberts, is a spoiled, bratty, and overconfident girl who thinks people should bow down to her just because she’s rich and pretty. She whines all the time when things don’t go her way, ostracizes those who are different from her in size, shape, and money. She and her group of sycophant Chanels like to play victim..even though they’re the victimizers.