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Young, Rich and Really Irritating

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By John Maynard
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 31, 2006

Really rich kids, it turns out, make for really annoying reality TV stars.

Unfortunately, that's about all we can glean from "Survival of the Richest," the WB's latest entry into the bloated genre of reality television.

The WB is cloning its similarly formatted hit "Beauty & the Geek," a highly watchable and surprisingly sweet social experiment that forges bonds between brainiacs and babes.

In this new offering, though, seven wealthy heir-types who ooze money but no class are teamed with working-class stiffs in varying degrees of debt. They take on menial jobs (cleaning bathrooms, working construction, serving up chicken legs at Medieval Times) to see whether they can work together, get along and perhaps understand each other's lives a little better. There's your standard voting-a-couple-off-the-island moment (cue the synthesized low note) at the end of each show, and the last remaining team splits $200,000 when it's all over in six weeks.

Two hundred grand is a windfall for those in debt, but for the rich kids? "Dinner," deadpans Hunter, a nauseating 24-year-old Dutch aristocrat said to be worth $20 million.

That, of course, spurs the obvious question: Why would seven trust-fund twenty-somethings with a combined worth of more than $3 billion participate in a reality game show?

Easy. For the bored rich -- Kathy and Paris Hilton, Nicole Richie, those brats from "Laguna Beach" and others -- appearing on your own reality show is the hottest new accessory, like a mini-Hummer or a $1 million dog collar for your poodle Trixie.

"Survival's" loaded lollygaggers tell us they are participating to teach Mumsy and Daddy a lesson that they can make it on their own. "My parents think I'm extremely lazy. I'm here to prove my parents wrong," says Elizabeth, a Yellow Pages heiress (the show gives only the contestants' first names).

Hogwash, young lady, we know what you're thinking: If a hotel magnate's daughter can make it big, why not a phone-book princess?

By design or happenstance, the producers have given the less-moneyed folks the wallflower role, while their well-to-do counterparts are stripped of any humanity.

"I like to make waitresses cry, and when they're most upset, I sleep with them," Hunter says.

Sam, an Afghan princess, asks snobbily, "What's a paycheck?"

Then there's Kat, the pouty daughter of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, who said she agreed to appear on the show only to relieve "chronic boredom."

But after watching this numbing show, what's the cure for the suffering viewer?

Survival of the Richest (60 minutes) debuts at 8 on Channel 50.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company

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