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The Real Bling Ring: Hollywood Heist review: A skippable true-crime series on the burglaries that shook Hollywood

Netflix’s latest docuseries is about a group of teenagers who robbed the homes of some of the biggest names in Hollywood

2.5/5rating
The Real Bling Ring: Hollywood Heist review: A skippable true-crime series on the burglaries that shook Hollywood
  • Arya Harikumar

Last Updated: 05.32 AM, Sep 22, 2022

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Story: Between October 2008 and August 2009, a group of teenagers broke into the houses of several Hollywood celebrities and stole clothes, cash, and jewellery. Their victims included Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Orlando Bloom, and Audrina Patridge.

Review: The story about a group of teenagers who burgled the homes of some of the most prominent Hollywood celebrities has been told before in the form of a feature film, The Bling Ring, by Sofia Coppola. Emma Watson played Nicki Moore, a character based on Alexis Neiers, one of the perpetrators of the crime. Now, Netflix’s latest true-crime series The Real Bling Ring: Hollywood Heist puts the spotlight back on the case that created a media frenzy in 2008-2009 and attempts to retell the story through the perspectives of Neiers and her former associate Nick Prugo. However, the docuseries doesn't add much to what is already known, and by giving too much screen space to the two perpetrators, it inadvertently glorifies their actions.

The first episode of the three-part series gives an insight into Nick and Alexis’ upbringing. Nick comes from a modest background in San Fernando Valley, a suburban neighbourhood in Los Angeles. He was attracted to the celebrity lifestyle from a young age and was even part of a show called Zoey 101. Meanwhile, Alexis was born into a family that was used to the glitz and glam of Hollywood. But her life took a turn when her parents decided to part ways. This episode majorly focuses on how Nick and Alexis tried to climb up the social ladder in their own way. Nick started committing petty thefts along with his friend Rachel Lee while Alexis tried to make a name for herself through modelling. The events are described chronologically and both the narratives run parallel to each other.

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In the second episode, Nick delves deeper into how they pulled off the heists and escaped being caught for months. The episode also shows how Nick and Alexis ended up becoming friends and how she partook in robbing Orlando Bloom’s house. Their contradicting versions of the incident don’t add much substance to the documentary nor does it hold our interest. The third episode focuses more on the police proceedings that followed after they were caught, the trial, and Alexis’ own reality show Pretty Wild, which was filmed while the case was still in court.

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In several instances, Nick comes across as someone who is proud of what he did. In fact, he goes on to say that it bothered him that a big star like Emma Watson played Alexis in the film when she wasn’t really the main player in the Bling Ring. “I was essentially the face of the Bling Ring. Alexis was just an expansion,” he adds. Apart from Nick and Alexis, the docuseries also features interviews of Alexis’ mother Andrea, sister Gabbie, entertainment blogger Perez Hilton, lawyers and cops who were involved in the case, and even Audrina Patridge, who is one of the victims. She appears only for a few minutes and doesn’t stir any emotions in the viewers. Likewise, few of the interviews have been added to the docuseries solely for the purpose of entertainment as they do not add any more information to the story.

The docuseries also stresses the impact of social media and reality television shows on the youth who are obsessed with fame and attention. With people becoming increasingly glued to their screens, the line between reality and fantasy is slowly starting to blur. And that’s what happened to Alexis and Nick. They wanted to be something that they weren’t and were willing to go to any extent to become famous and rich.

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Verdict: One of the major shortcomings of the documentary is that by focusing too much on the two perpetrators, it fails to create empathy for the victims. Watch it only if you are ignorant of the case or if you haven’t watched Coppola’s film.

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