When you're living in the middle of a pandemic, it's impossible to not be aware of that fact, and that includes while watching what is usually escapist reality TV. Popular shows are now airing episodes that were shot during the COVID-19 pandemic, which means they don't provide the same level of comfort they once did. But, there is one new show that can help. Netflix's new reality series Bling Empire was filmed before the pandemic, and it's finally here to give reality fans the light-hearted drama we need.
The reality series is about the social circle of a group of wealthy (like, really wealthy) Asian-Americans living in Los Angeles. And the fact that they are shown celebrating a variety of Asian traditions and holidays — cast members have Chinese, Singaporean, Vietnamese, Korean, and Japanese backgrounds — helps narrow down when filming of the show took place.
While no specific dates are given on Bling Empire, it's clear from episode one when it started filming. In the first episode, Christine Chiu throws a Chinese New Year party to celebrate the Year of the Pig. The most recent Year of the Pig began on February 5, 2019. And, as evidenced by co-star Kim Lee's Instagram, Christine threw her party on February 19.
As for when the show stopped filming, that's easy to tell from social media, too. The final episode featured Cherie Chan's 100 day celebration for her son, Jevon. While Cherie didn't post about the party, Jaime Xie posted a video on Instagram on October 21, 2019 of herself wearing the same outfit that she wore to the party. Unless she wore the look twice, it's likely that this was around the same time. The final episode also features Christine, Kevin Kreider, and Kane Lim taking a trip to Vegas. Christine posted a photo from their trip on October 17, 2019.
With Bling Empire being a reality show — and one that involves a large cast and many events — it's no surprise that some scenes are shown out of order to best work with the various storylines. For instance, episode 3 features a party Kane threw to celebrate Singapore Independence Day, which falls on August 9. Episode 3 also features the Mid-Autumn Festival, or Moon Festival, which was on September 13 in 2019. But, episode 5 shows Christine's son Baby G's birthday party, which took place at the end of June 2019, as indicated on her Instagram.
Regardless of how the edit shook out in the end, it appears that the series began shooting around February 2019 and wrapped in October of the same year.
Christine spoke out about how the show filming almost two years ago makes it particularly escapist considering where we are now.
"While with #blingempire we’ll be able to 'escape' and reminisce a land that now seems so far away, a land without masks, surging unemployment rates, daily deaths - a land where family and friends can share a meal together without fear or guilt, a land of relative certainty and manageable health, we have not forgotten the bitterness of the climate we are in," Christine wrote on Instagram on January 11. "We continue to do what we can for our communities via organisations that reach our most affected. Here’s to one part escapism and one part optimism for a brighter new year."