It’s even more concerning when you consider the casting. Sarah Niles has a rich filmography and has become ingrained into the hearts of viewers based on stints in “I May Destroy You” and “Ted Lasso.” On that latter show, Dr. Sharon started as a confident and reserved opposite to Ted’s overwhelming yet desperate-to-please personality. Through the season, they found a way to meet in the middle, and even though her residency was up at the end of Season Two, we yearned for more.
We get more Niles in “Riches,” and it’s a treat. Niles plays Claudia Richards, wife of Stephen Richards (Hugh Quarshie), the patriarch and owner of the cosmetics brand Flair & Glory. In the opening scene, we hear Stephen interviewing a reporter whose outlet once refused to write them up. He says immediately that if people only knew the Black woman’s commitment to looking good, they would never question investing in a Black beauty company.
Years later, after establishing the business as a forerunner in an industry that makes billions of pounds annually, Stephen balks at the idea of the magazine only now taking an interest in them: “Everyone is trying to scramble for the Black pound, usually without involving any Black people, of course.”
When asked if Stephen believes he faced racial discrimination throughout his rise, he cheekily asks the reporter, “What do you think?” And after some muttering from his questioner, Stephen says, “It’s a British specialty, tying Black people into knots by asking them again and again if racism is real.”
He asks why the reporter thinks it took so long for Flair and Glory to be recognized. It’s a British entrepreneurial success story; what on earth could be different that people don’t see it as such?
The same can be theorized for the series. I mentioned “Succession” earlier, but despite the similarities in storylines, the show is often compared to OWN’s “Kings of Napa,” an American show with a Black family at the head of a major business. I’ll admit that being Black does throw more wrenches into this rags to “Riches” tale, but the heightened drama should entice more viewers, not keep them at arm’s length.