Rich Girl, Poor Girl, the latest original web series from Warner Brothers’ Studio 2.0 premieres today on TheWB.com, swapping the lives two popular alpha-girls from radically different Los Angeles area high schools. The 12-episode comedic reality series is the brainchild of reality icon Gary Auerbach, the creative producer behind MTV’s teen reality hit Laguna Beach and A&E’s ghost-hunting Paranormal State.
19 year-old Angie Riccio lives in a low-income East Los Angeles neighborhood with her single mother Irene, and her 17 year-old sister, Clair. About 20 miles west of her is 19 year-old college student Tarra Woolen — former prom queen and cheerleader — living in wealthy Pacific Palisades. The two girls are said to both “rule their respective cliques” before the series uproots the girls for one week throwing them into a world neither one has any clue how to navigate.
The concept isn’t exactly novel, as British TV series Poor Little Rich Girls from ITV essentially traced the same line — take two women from opposite ends of the socio-economic bench and see what happens when they switch places. Even Wife Swap toyed with the class contrast in both the UK and US import versions. At the very least most American teens at least will feel some déjà vu via Paris and Nicole’s Simple Life slumming.
But Auerbach is known for entwining a compelling story with unforced substantive accuracy, letting viewers observe the layers to his subjects without forcing judgment upon us. His two-hour MTV documentary Decade scored a Peabody Award for linking music to the social issues of the 80’s.
Auerbach’s casting choices for the two leads hint that he wasn’t looking to rehash the same race-driven have and have-not narrative. His East LA native Angie is actually a sassy Caucasian with cornrows, fully adapted to her Latin-culture dominated environment. On the flip side, wealthy Tarra is actually of half Mexican descent, complete with a spanish-speaking grandmother who makes the transplanted Angie feel oddly at home in the upscale suburbia.
Rich Girl, Poor Girl is one of the first serial web projects out of Luckey Lifestyles, the new media division of Auerbach’s Santa Monica-based Go Go Luckey Entertainment. The first two episodes are up today, with two more each Monday until its finale on November 24th.