My partner and I have been garbage hunting recently. Don Bluth’s Thumbelina? Watched it last night. The stranger alluring mess of Strange Magic? Watched it, sometimes wincing, sometimes laughing at the ridiculousness. The pie making scene from Labor Day? Hilariously creepy.
As we were trolling for more fodder, we came across a new series Netflix, Richie Rich (2015). We chose the first episode, wondering how bad could it be?
Pretty bad as it turns out. Producers/writers Tim Pollock and Jeff Hodsden seem most to blame, bringing the cheapo Disney tv aesthetic to this this show that they perfected so well on The Suite Life of Zach and Cody and A.N.T. Farm. The show’s main draw (look at the copious amounts of wealth!) fails as wish fulfillment when everything looks so fake and tacky. But that’s not the worst part. The worst part is Richie’s sexualized robot maid, Irona.
Yes, in the comics (but who even cares about the “Richie Rich continuity?), Richie has a robot maid. But the sexualization of his maid is downright alarming for a ‘kids’ show. The above two images are indeed two shots at the beginning of the first episode, one introducing Irona to the show, the other immediately positing her character as something to be looked at. Her short dress and long stockings scream “fetish outfit.” A running ‘gag’ is about Irona’s replication of other people’s voices, to which Richie rebuffs, saying it’s “ruining the magic.” AKA, its ruining the image of a beautiful object to be consumed by the male gaze.
This all occurs in the first episode. It’s the only one I’ve seen, and I highly doubt the show will rise form its anti-comedy. This episode’s plot has the classic-now-cliche plot of Richie needing to be in two places at once, at a concert with his friends ( in his room), and family game night with his abhorrent sister (who has no reason to exist other than to hate Richie) and his dumb father (who insistence on family game night is frustratingly grating).
Each character has *a* characteristic. Richie’s friends Murray and Darcy are nerdy and greedy, respectively. His father is …simple (prefers the simple, sleep on the couch lifestyle, but also really loves playing Duck Duck Hippo). And his sister is a vortex of hate. None of them are likable of course. And Richie? He’s…. rich? He’s a vacuous personality, leaving the entire show pretty much dead.
I would not have written about this show if it weren’t for the robot maid fetish. The costume itself wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t for Irona’ position as a fetish object within the show. While these undertones are only referred to in euphemisms (“ruining the magic”) and casual glances by the males in the cast, it’s telling when the outfit is more revealing than the usual outfit in an anime specifically capitalizing on the sexy robot maid fetish.