Crazy Rich Asians has a money problem

On the dark side of the rom-com that no one wants to talk about

Constance Wu as Rachel in Crazy Rich Asians
(Image credit: Screenshot/Crazy Rich Asians via Warner Bros. Entertainment)

You can learn a lot about Crazy Rich Asians just by paying attention to hands. You see them chop bok choy, stir noodles, and clean fish, and gingerly unload spiky durians from the back of a truck. Hands, too, flaunt giant eye-catching emeralds, lift — gloveless! — million-dollar earrings for a better inspection, and are offered scented bowls of water in which to rinse themselves clean (bowls offered by other, anonymous hands). As might be clear from the movie's title, it is this latter batch of pampered, manicured hands that is the focus of Crazy Rich Asians: These digits are attached to faces and names. And to the film's great detriment, it is the former group of hands that are divorced from bodies, shown only performing work for the crazy rich, but rarely the people behind it.

It is unfair to call this a problem of Crazy Rich Asians exclusively: We are a culture obsessed with wealth, and audiences won't blink twice at penthouse views or montages of designer dresses — stories about high-class high-jinks are regular Hollywood fare, ranging from My Man Godfrey to the literal Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. The problem is that Crazy Rich Asians fetishizes extreme wealth while failing to acknowledge or grapple with the nuances of a system of gross inequality.

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Jeva Lange

Jeva Lange was the executive editor at She formerly served as The Week's deputy editor and culture critic. She is also a contributor to Screen Slate, and her writing has appeared in The New York Daily News, The Awl, Vice, and Gothamist, among other publications. Jeva lives in New York City. Follow her on Twitter.