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Why Netflix’s The Real Bling Ring: Hollywood Heist is the worst docuseries I’ve ever watched

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Waterloo chapter.

True crime has been on the climb recently. There are more podcasts, series and books being published centered around the themes of crime. With the rise of podcasts, true crime stories have peaked, leading to more interviews and documentaries being released to better inform the public about the atrocities of the criminal. 

One of the biggest contributors to the true crime genre is Netflix, a company that has been producing documentaries and docuseries for a while. They have previously had big hitters like The Disappearance of Madeline McCann, Jeffery Epstein: Filthy Rich, and Crime Scene: The Vanishing at The Cecil Hotel. Though, as with everything, some of the best documentaries will have their own set of critics.

Unsuspecting to most, in September of 2022, Netflix released a documentary about a group of teens who committed a series of burglaries by using paparazzi and tabloids to target celebrities’ homes in 2008-2009. Their high-profile victims include big names like Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Orlando Bloom, and plenty more. In addition to the docuseries being published, there was also a movie titled The Bling Ring released in 2013, as well as an article published on Vanity Fair called “The Suspects Wore Louboutin” by Nancy Jo Sales.

The Netflix series tries its best to allow the perpetrators to write their own narratives. Those who were involved in the heist sit down to retell their stories, including narratives from Nick Prugo and Alexis Neiers themselves. The true shock I felt as I watched both of them sit down to retell their stories is something I do not wish to relive again. Though, coming from someone who was just seven or eight years old when this was happening, maybe the 2000s celebrity culture was just lost on me.

There were many things that were just blatantly wrong with the docuseries. The overt display of white privilege is something I hadn’t seen before — because the fact is, the story certainly wouldn’t be glamourized if the criminal was a person of colour. Whatever white privilege I’d witnessed before paled in comparison to what I had experienced by watching this series. To a certain extent, it may be valuable to understand the inner workings of a criminal, but when it comes to Prugo, maybe a Netflix series was not the best idea. As the two of the multiple perpetrators sit down and narrate the lead up to their arrest, there are conflicting retellings of how the events go. The narration is aided with the help of social media pages, images, security camera footage and most importantly, Alexis’ mom’s infamous vision board.

The entire docuseries is rather unbelievable. Even after two days, I’m still thinking about what I’d just witnessed with bewilderment — from the sprinkle of victim blaming, to a full tutorial on how to break into celebrities’ homes and steal their stuff from Prugo. Yet, those aren’t the most shocking aspects of the docuseries. Nothing could top the fact that Prugo seems undeniably happy that the narrative has changed and that he is receiving full credit of being the mastermind behind the plan, instead of all the credit being given to Neiers. This is just the tip of the iceberg of how shockingly terrible this series is.

While this TV show did not pop off as much as other Netflix series, the reactions of those who chose to watch it were not the most positive. Reactions on Twitter highlight multiple interesting parts of the show — ranging from @Elle_Ohhh_Elle tweeting “The Real Bling Ring: Hollywood Heist is way too much white privilege for me. How you rob all these celebs and get a Netflix documentary? Where’s the jail??” to @basslayw’s reaction, “The glamorization of burglary and theft on “The Real Bling Ring” on Netflix is a prime example of white privilege. Were the criminals persons of colour, there would be no tv show. No glamorization. No empathy. No profiting. Most importantly, they’d still be in PRISON.”

Viewers’ reactions highlight a real problem in the judicial system and the blatant double-standards. The platform that these criminals were given to “right their wrongs” seems rather sour. There is issue after issue that seems so obvious while watching the show, and there’s no reason for it to be produced.

The Real Bling Ring: Hollywood Heist seems like a fever dream I truly wish I avoided. It’s worth scrolling past. 

Nisha Nararidh

Waterloo '23

Hi! I'm Nisha, an International Student who is currently studying at the University of Waterloo. I am double majoring in English Literature and Language alongside a Major in History, in addition to that I am also taking a minor in Human Resource Management. I love to share my stories and how I adapted to the Waterloo lifestyle.