When Things Aren’t Great, We Love Seeing Rich People Be Stupid

The White Lotus, the Menu and Glass Onion are okay, but that’s not why we watch them.

Taru Anniina Liikanen
7 min readJan 27


Photo by Lux Charters on Unsplash

You’ve noticed this trend, right?

Rich people behaving badly, on streaming and in your local movie theater. This boom is so ubiquitous right now it seems it’s already turning into a cliche.

I watched three of the really hyped-up shows and movies that have come out recently, and all I can think of is: “Really?”

Is this really as revolutionary as people make it seem? And why is this so trendy right now?

We Need a Conscience

The White Lotus (HBO) was a middle-of-the-pandemic runaway success. A story about rich people in a tropical paradise, with mystery and social commentary included.

The very first episode reveals someone is going to die, and the rest of the show is watching relationships unravel while Hawaiian music plays and minute-long shots of the ocean almost take you on the trip you really can’t afford in real life but would really love to.

Throw in a couple of snarky Gen Z girls reading books, an outsider in an unhappy marriage, funny hotel staff with secrets and a dysfunctional family, and you’ve got a hit.

Especially since most of us weren’t really leaving our homes yet, and there was nothing better to do.

There’s intrigue and drama and great acting and some really good jokes. Of course, there’s a message of anti-capitalism and consumerism in there, too, underlined and put in the mouth of the character who looks most like an outsider to the entire plot and doesn’t really speak otherwise, so you don’t expect it.

It’s the hippie character. The free one. Because somebody has to have a conscience, not only interests.

The second season was more fun, in my opinion. The resort is in colorful, gorgeous Sicily this time, but again there’s a dead body in the first scene.

It’s all fun and games and confusion and mystery as the rich play stupid and immoral and maybe learn a couple of lessons, and the outsiders either win or at least get away with their stupidity.



Taru Anniina Liikanen

Finnish by birth, porteña at heart. Recovering political ghostwriter and comedian. Bad jokes my own.