How Was Bling Empire Filmed In The Middle Of The COVID-19 Pandemic?

For many stuck in the quarantine doldrums with regard to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Netflix has become a safe haven of sorts, providing a window into other worlds as we all are stuck, moored to our homes. And like many Netflix offerings throughout the course of COVID-19 have done since the virus first took hold (Tiger King, anyone?), it looks like the streaming platform has done it again: this time, with their new hit Bling Empire.

Bling Empire, per Netflix's own description of the reality show, is about "wildly wealthy Asian and Asian American fun seekers" who "go all out with fabulous parties, glamour, and drama." The reality series made its debut on the streaming platform on Jan. 15, 2021, and seemingly amassed a huge following almost instantaneously. And with a cast comprised of a beyond wealthy motley crew of fashion models, entrepreneurs, DJs, real estate tycoons, plastic surgeons, and more, it's all the more unsurprising — considering, especially, the escapism a show like Bling Empire can provide in the midst of COVID-19. 

But one question remains: How did the hit Netflix reality show manage to film during the middle of a worldwide pandemic? Read on below to find out. 

'Bling Empire' started filming way before the COVID-19 pandemic

So, exactly how was Bling Empire able to film in the middle of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic? To put it simply: it actually didn't. 

As Refinery 29 pointed out in a January 2021 write-up of the show, there are a number of indicators that point to dates the show was actively shooting and in production. Among them include an episode that revolves around celebrating the Chinese New Year (currently The Year of the Pig, per the traditional calendar), which began on Feb. 5, 2019, nearly two years ago as of the time of this writing. Refinery 29 also corroborated their hunch through a post on the personal Instagram account of Bling Empire star Kim Lee, which was uploaded and/or taken on Feb. 19, 2019. 

Utilizing the same application of this method — pairing posts on the Instagram accounts of Bling Empire's cast members with corresponding events within the shows episodes — Refinery 29 surmised that the show wrapped filming its first season sometime in October 2019. This would mean the show finished shooting months before the ongoing coronavirus pandemic hit U.S. shores in 2020. 

Per Refinery 29, this has more or less also been confirmed by castmate Christine Chiu, who acknowledged how the series' pre-coronavirus setting provides a sense of something close to fantasy. "Here's to one part escapism and one part optimism for a brighter new year," Christine wrote in a January 2021 Instagram post.