Late-night soaps, with their frenzied competition and trappings of luxury, may be out of fashion on broadcast TV these days. In the years since “Empire,” there hasn’t been a new show with comparable brilliance or such a shameless desire to indulge.
This has created an opening for streams. Earlier this year, the Kerry Washington-produced “Reasonable Doubt” made its case that it could be a “scandal” after all, taking viewers on an epic journey through the career of a defense attorney. And now, on Amazon Prime Video, comes the “Treasures” series created by Abi Ajayi, previously the author of “How to Get Away with Murder” and “Inventing Anna.” Ajayi’s new series combines a high-end verve reminiscent of the best of the genre with a highly-acclaimed family dynamic.
Here, the eponymous Richard family – whose first four letters indicate their wealth – are thrown into disarray by the loss of patriarch Stephen (Hugh Quareshy). As an “empire,” or for that matter, “success,” the family’s wealth, in the form of a cosmetics business called Flair and Glory, is the engine of both financial and sibling rivalry. Animosity and anger blossom without the will being read as the American grown children Stephens has ignored all his life show up in the UK to see what might be left for them.
That reading of interest gives the audience an idea of whether or not the “wealth” is for them. A bereaved widow cried out, “You dog!” This is the show you’re talking about. Before she falls for her late husband’s lawyer over an unexpected inheritance. That widow, Claudia, is played by Sarah Niles, a recent Emmy nominee for her role on “Ted Lasso.” Here, she delivers a consistently strong performance. For Nina (Deborah Ayorinde), she sows every year to deliver a perfectly controlled disaster line. Together, Nina and Simon (Emmanuel Imani), an American duo, have enough vim and quick wit to make it clear why their British half-siblings fear them. And their gradual winning over of the sympathy of their distant family provides interest beyond the sardonic energy that flickers through the insults exchanged.
“Wealth” can feel somewhat unbalanced: both Stephen’s American children and Englishmen (Adeyinka Akinrinade, Neka Okoye, and Ola Orebyi) have a claim to flair and glory, but only Nina and Simon show remarkable talent. (Alesha, Wanda, and Gus Richards, Brit., didn’t learn the tools of being good soap characters from their mother.) So the show is at its best when the teams are pitted against each other and try to find a way forward. A company suddenly attacked by a foreign threat.
What they ultimately do is show not only how Americans and Britons differ culturally, but also how different Stephen’s two families are. Nina and Simon are scrappier; They should have been. Uniting the five children, however, is the unique position of Flair and Glory in the landscape. Although “Downton Abbey” is supported by a mostly white cast, including Brendan Coyle as the family’s lawyer, Richard’s family is black and makes products for black consumers. (In this, “Rich” joins “Reasonable Doubt” as a streaming soap. Even among their competitors, they are joined by a feeling that they are all in a hostile business environment. It is this feeling—the family’s internal battles are secondary to the ultimately coordinated future—of “Rich.” ” It also gives a sense of gravity of boundless joy.
“Treasures” premieres on Amazon Prime Video on Friday, December 2.