How'd You Get So Rich?

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
How'd You Get So Rich? TV Poster Image
Rags-to-riches stories -- told Joan Rivers-style.

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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

While being wealthy is the show's focus, and the camera (and Rivers) certainly linger on the trappings of wealth and privilege, most of the featured rich folks started from humble beginnings and worked hard to build their businesses -- which emphasizes the importance of hard work and creativity.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Some of the featured interviewees use their money to give back to their community or to charitable foundations. Many are self-made success stories. Rivers herself is (as per usual) brash and in your face.


Rivers uses lots of strong sexual innuendo, including references to genitals, “quickies,” and various other sexual acts. Breast implants are frequently discussed; in one episode, Rivers grabs a woman’s breasts to see if theyr'e “real." Another features Rivers wearing fake breasts that are “blacked out” on the screen. 


Words like "hell" are sometimes audible. Rivers likes to use curses like “f--k"; these words are are fully bleeped.


Lots of verbal and visual references to high-end brands, including Gucci, Chanel, Marc Jacobs, Rolls-Royce, and Porsche.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that while this reality series generally focuses on wealth and materialism -- references to high-end brands like Rolls-Royce, Porsche, Chanel, Gucci, and Marc Jacobs are frequent -- some of the stories are inspirational and demonstrate a strong work ethic. Host Joan Rivers is prone to strong sexual innuendo (including references to genitals and various sexual acts) and swearing (though the strongest words, like "f--k," are bleeped), and some her jokes are on the iffy side (like suggesting that kids drop out of school to save their parents money).

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What's the story?

In HOW’D YOU GET SO RICH?, host Joan Rivers travels around the country visiting some of America’s most successful entrepreneurs and asking them -- in her own distinctive style -- how they earned their big bucks. Viewers hear a little about the intervieweees' humble beginnings, how they started their businesses, and how they currently spend their money. In between interview segments, Rivers ambushes seemingly unsuspecting wealthy people on the streets of exclusive neighborhoods like Rodeo Drive and interrogates them about their financial status.

Is it any good?

Rivers breaks taboos by openly asking questions about finances and spending habits that would be considered impolite in most circles. But despite her lack of tact, her interviews reveal some interesting and at times inspiring stories about people whose creativity and willingness to work hard has led to incredible success. Viewers also hear about how many of these people give back to their communities.

Not surprisingly, the show is full of endless references to high-end designers, expensive cars, and other luxury items. Meanwhile, thanks to Rivers’ signature risqué humor, there's also plenty of sexual innuendo and some strong language. Still, it's this very humor that makes the series a guilty pleasure. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what the show's ultimate take-away message is. Does it glorify materialism and conspicuous consumption or hard work and tenacity? Can it do both at the same time?

  • Why do you think some cultures consider it inappropriate to talk about how much money people make? Is it generally considered polite conversation in most cases? Why or why not?

  • Do you think the featured entrepreneurs started their businesses just to make money, or were they following their passion? Which is more important to you?

TV details

  • Premiere date: August 9, 2009
  • Cast: Joan Rivers
  • Network: TV Land
  • Genre: Reality TV
  • TV rating: TV-PG
  • Available on: Streaming
  • Last updated: September 20, 2019

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