Netflix’s The Real Bling Ring shines a light on the teens who robbed Paris Hilton and the Hollywood elite

Few series have made Hollywood and its fame-hungry denizens look more pathetic, shameful, and overall gross The real bling ring: Hollywood Heist, a three-part Netflix affair (September 21) about the group of LA teenagers who have committed a string of robberies — including, notoriously, the homes of celebrities such as Paris Hilton, Audrina Patridge, Rachel Bilson, Orlando Bloom and Lindsay Lohan – mid to late 2000s. Fueled by interviews with two of the gang’s leading members, director Miles Blayden-Ryall’s docuseries tells how an emerging reality-centric pop culture and the rise of social media helped create a collection of attention-seeking kids who believed that the world was theirs, and this scandal was a surefire way to stardom. Which it was in a sense – a notion underscored by the fact that they’re now headlining their own Netflix project.

The nonfiction version of the story dramatized by Sofia Coppola in 2013 The bling ring, The real bling ring: Hollywood Heist is directed by Nick Prugo, who, as a high school student, began robbing luxury vehicles in and around Los Angeles with his girlfriend Rachel Lee. By this point, Nick had already had a handful of television jobs, but as he says, what he liked about the industry was less the craft of acting than the sets that were his rewards. His illicit pastime with Rachel was therefore extremely satisfying and allowed him to make his mark as a wealthy, stylish person of interest. Given that this is the dawning era of Hilton, Kim Kardashian, The Osbournes and TMZ-eligible Insta-celebrity who wasn’t built on talent, but more on glamour, wealth, outrageousness and notoriety, Nick was convinced he was just as cut out for stardom as anyone.

By virtually entering the homes and lives of these 21st-century trendsetters (via cribs and Perez Hilton’s tabloid), Nick felt he had every right to literally break into their abodes — something he soon began with Rachel. At the same time, he befriended Alexis Neiers (now Alexis Haines), who, along with her sister Gabrielle and best friend/adopted sister Tess, was nursed to reality TV fame by her coming-out mother Andrea The real bling ring: Hollywood Heist as a showbiz momager from hell. A former pin-up who admits to smoking weed with her daughters (to woo their acceptance) and promotes them The secret-inspired ethos that goals are manifested through positive thinking — a sentiment she’s indoctrinated in her children through daily mantras about thriving in the entertainment business — Andrea comes across as the happy-go-lucky lunatic Alexis bred to place fame above all else. It was a superficial strategy that worked and brought the clan online E! show about her life (Pretty wild) produced by Amber Mazzola and Gennifer Gardiner.

While attempting to launch her career on the small screen, Alexis also reaped the rewards of Nick and Rachel’s illegal labor, and she eventually agreed to join them (and their accomplice Diana Tamayo) when they broke into Bloom’s home and Valuables worth $550,000 were burgled. The real bling ring: Hollywood Heist contains conflicting and ridiculously self-serving versions of this event by Nick and Alexis, but the truth isn’t hard to ascertain. These two teens, along with their cohorts, were hard-partying, drug-addicted feral kids who craved so much to be like theirs Us weekly Idols for whom they had no qualms about sneaking into their mansions, taking and wearing their things, and accepting the disgrace that followed – to the point that Alexis’ own indictment became more than just an act Pretty wild‘s first and only season, but the actual narrative hook that Mazzola and Gardiner coveted as a justification for the entire enterprise.

The real bling ring: Hollywood Heist is a textbook example of the snake eating its own tail, with young men and women doing whatever they can to achieve their paparazzi dreams and then becoming famous for doing exactly that. Nick is upfront and direct about his ambitions and the low self-esteem they’ve spawned, while Alexis is far more defensive about her behavior and the motivations behind it. In both cases, however, it’s clear that living in a Hollywood bubble has cultivated in them an instinctive longing for the limelight and the designer shoes, handbags and jewelry that come with it. In short, they come across as empty, materialistic, and amoral, ready to indulge in any behavior that might benefit their goals, and Nick’s outspokenness and Alexis’ reserve play like two sides of the same coin: continued calculated efforts to manicure their audience’s image into personal ones Advantage.

“In short, they come across as empty, materialistic, and amoral, ready to indulge in any behavior that might further their goals…”

Later revelations that Alexis’ defense attorney Jeffrey Rubenstein was allegedly involved in insincere script scenes Pretty wildwhich LAPD detective Brett Goodkin consulted at Coppola The bling ringand that Nick chose an attorney based on his looks and threads and not his credentials (oops!) only reinforces this The real bling ring: Hollywood Heist‘s portrait of Angelenos as absurdly obsessed with fame. While this doesn’t come as a shock, it’s nonetheless italicized by Blayden-Ryall’s documentaries, which themselves are torn between criticism and celebration of their subjects, portraying them as rapacious crooks while spicing up their story with a kind of glittery look-me flair (eye-catching dramatic recreations, stunning effects, fourth wall-breaking narration by Nick) this is exactly what they were longing for in the first place. It’s a two-something approach that’s less complicated than messy, though it allows Nick to figuratively hang himself with any gleeful admission about the unrelenting excitement he felt during his burglary and burglary excursions.

The emptiness of this showbiz world and the people it produces was apparent during the nightclub heyday of Lohan, Hilton and their ilk The real bling ring: Hollywood Heist repeats it with dutiful accuracy when discernment is lacking. Likewise, the role of technology in furthering this modern day celebrity culture, as well as facilitating the crimes of Nick and Co., proves another unenlightening facet of this saga, whose ultimate conclusion seems to be that the bling ring rampage was a by-product of a specific moment in it Time was , depressingly doesn’t seem to have really passed us by yet. Netflix’s The Real Bling Ring shines a light on the teens who robbed Paris Hilton and the Hollywood elite

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