RIP Robin Leach, The Man Who Mainstreamed Luxury

Robin Leach attends the Food Network's 20th birthday party on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013 in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

Robin Leach passed away on Friday at the age of 76.

Many Redstate readers are probably very familiar with his name and brand. Some younger folks might not know who he is, but they are unwitting descendants of a golden age of wealth/celebrity obsession that he ushered in nearly single-handedly.

In the Reagan era, business was booming and so was luxury. Most of us weren’t privy to the behind-the-scenes excess of the rich in those days. We only had shows like Dallas and Dynasty to give us a salacious (if not over-dramatic) peek into that world. That all changed when Robin Leach launched his show that launched a thousand other copycats….Lifestyles Of the Rich & Famous.

Leach’s program was a deep dive into a world most of us will never see. A world of gold toilets, custom sports cars and yachts…lots and lots of yachts. He had a way of making us simultaneously hate and desire what we saw on screen. Leach brought our envies to us as entertainment, but all the while he subtly pushed the culture towards towards materialism.

Even while dishing on yacht life and mansion dreams, Leach seemed personable and every bit in awe of it all as we were. It made watching the filthy rich more palatable.

These days we can peer right into the lives of our favorite celebrities. They not only make it easy for us on social media, it is literally their “brand”. There is no Kardashian family without Robin Leach.

Writer Justin Press summed it up perfectly:

We are but loathsome creatures feeding off this sort of empty programming, but that is where Leach’s Vegas showman played us. He knew that for all the mental midgets and their velvet ropes that made us detest the show, the draw of the blue water properties, Italian sportsters and gleaming bathroom chandeliers was just too much to turn away from. Leach burrowed into our closet pleasures. His thick English accent made us feel less disgusted with ourselves. The English could see you pennies on the pound with those Elizabethan dialects.

Today Robin Leach died at the age of 76. He’ll be forever known as a clever bloke breaking new ground in reality entertainment television, which no doubt will be written in history as the decline of the modern world – a world where Greek heiresses with large behinds and flat-ironed personalities have more social power than any great thinker, politician, doctor or inventor.

We have entered the era of our cultural demise and Leach put us on the guest list. It was bloody good fun though.

Good fun, indeed.

RIP, Mr. Leach. I hope you were greeted with champagne and caviar at those pearly gates.