Sibling rivalry, conflicts, and commotion, ‘Riches’ has it all

When the phrase “privileged family” turns up in the synopsis of a television series, you can certainly bet that “commotion” isn’t far behind. Add jealous wives, feuding children, and you’ve got a recipe for mayhem. The latest in the family drama fare arrives Friday night on Amazon Prime and is titled: “Riches.” There’s the usual sibling rivalry, constant conflicts, and dysfunction, but what makes “Riches” unique is that it follows a wealthy Black family based in the United Kingdom – a rarity on our television screens.

Deborah Ayorinde as Nina – Photo Credit – Clark Studio

“We haven’t seen one with a specific Black British family like this with wealth,” shares writer and Executive Producer Abby Ajayi, who understands a thing or two about drama and dysfunction, having helmed several episodes of the Award-winning series “How to Get Away with Murder.”

(L-R) Adeyinka Akinrinade (Alesha), Ola Orebiyi (Gus) and Nneka Okoye

Family fortunes begets vicious power struggles in the six-episode series, which follows the exploits of the stylish, super-rich Richards family at loggerheads. Much of the family’s fortune is tied to Stephen Richards (Hugh Quarshie), a successful entrepreneur whose sudden death ensures chaos within a family unit that’s spread as far flung as America and Africa.

Deborah Ayorinde (left) and Emmanuel Imani

Aptly cast, the eclectic crew includes the main star, Deborah Ayorinde (“Them”), who plays Nina Richards, the eldest daughter, and a favorite to run the cosmetics empire. Actor Emmanuel Imani is her brother Simon, a stylish queer man who sprinkles the humor and Adeyinka Akinrinade (“Top Boy”), Ola Orebiyi (“A Brixton Tale)” and Nneka Okoye (“The A List”) play their resentful estranged stepsiblings. Actress Sarah Niles (“Ted Lasso”) rounds out the main cast as Stephen’s current wife, Claudia, a ruthless boardroom manipulator whose exploits are certain to raise a few eyebrows.

Riches premieres on Prime Video

“She is a certain age and is trying to survive. I loved being challenged and I wanted to make sure she didn’t just come across as a villain. There is a backstory of her being pushed in the corner for a very long time,” shares Niles, whose character is reminiscent of Joan Collins’ character, Alexis, television’s most memorable villain from the ‘80s television drama “Dynasty.”

Sarah Niles as Claudia. Photo Credit- David Hindley Prime Video

A delicious drama studded with messy succession struggles, betrayals, familial resentments, and romantic entanglements; you can almost recite the plot elements. Someone has a lot to lose from a scandal, someone’s siphoning money from the company, another is harboring a dangerous secret and all the heirs, as is normal, must figure out what to do with their fortune all while vying for control of the hair and cosmetics company Flair and Glory.

That, in a nutshell, is the dramatic arc of this series, which not only delivers, but also gives audiences an insight into the class system in the United Kingdom where rampant racism very much still exists. In penning the series, Ajayi knew she had to share those injustices.

Riches premieres December 2

“Money can buy all kinds of things, but you can’t buy your way out of racism, “says Ajayi. “The more substantial elements needed to be present. That was necessary to be realistic. Our audience knows and should know that these things happen.” There isn’t a dull moment in this well-heeled drama, which serves to remind us that all families have problems.

“Riches” premieres Friday December 2 on Prime Video.

Samantha Ofole-Prince is a journalist and movie critic who covers industry-specific news that includes television and film. She serves as the Entertainment Editor for Trendy Africa. Photos courtesy of Prime Video

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