‘Started with four people of colour, now it’s six white men’: Rise and Fall has a problem

‘I know it’s called unconscious bias for a reason, but can nobody see what’s going on?’

Rise and Fall on Channel 4, proudly boasting on all ad campaigns that it was developed by the makers of The Traitors, has not quite had the same level of instant cultural impact its older brother had in the tail end of 2022. Its concept is good in essence – a group of opinionated people compete to become six rulers who are eligible to win the prize money, living in a luxury penthouse whilst the others are grafters in a basic basement and having to do gross or tough work tasks to build the prize fund up. It’s been watchable enough, but as the season has trooped on, Twitter has clocked onto a major issue: The rulers have become six white men. Rise and Fall has a problem.

‘An absolute disgrace’

When the show kicked off on episode one, the six places of being a ruler were up for grabs for anyone to claim. The lift doors were open, and the contestants could either pitch their case to be voted in by their peers or just storm in themselves. Of the first six, we had four women and two men. Of the six, the group were diverse – four people of colour. But the diversity did not last long.

Slowly, the rulers began their voting off process and the track record of people who lost their place in the penthouse was certainly eyebrow raising. First out was Ramona – an opinionated woman of colour. Next was Prince, who inexplicably lost his place despite no tensions with anyone. Then it was Rishika, who for my money was the best person in the penthouse. Then Rachel was banished to the basement, where she’s no joined by Ramona. Marina and then Cheryl lost their places, leaving the rulers exclusively white men.

— Joe Will Rave 🇦🇹 🇳🇱 🇨🇭 🇱🇹 🇬🇧 (@joesansom) March 27, 2023

In the latest episode, Rossi chose Moses – who’s Black –  to get a place amongst the rulers, much to the grievance of the others up there whose faces dropped when they realised. Their faces dropped because it meant one of them was going back to the basement, but still – not a good look.

What’s interesting about Rise and Fall is that the penthouse and becoming a ruler is meant to be aspirational, but all we’ve seen from up there is misery, tears and toxicity. It simply is better in the shithole basement that the grafters are desperate to get out of – good camaraderie, close bonds and higher moral. There’s a sense of unity.

This is most apparent in the case of Ramona and Rachel, two rulers who were miserable in the penthouse and now have ended up in the basement. The difference in their characters is astonishing. I mean, this is nothing new – breaking news, rich elite life is more miserable and isolating than the unity of the working ‘poor’ – but it’s fascinating to watch it play out on TV.

It also doesn’t sit right with me how much Jeff and Jack were against Cheryl. Cheryl isn’t the most likeable contestant in the game, but the two southern men declaring her too loud because she’s… Scouse? Just not the vibe. I love Jack, but for him to criticise loud people when he’s such a loud and big character is an eye roll. Just say you hate northerners.

We’ve still got a fair few episodes left of Rise and Fall and it is still all to play for, but it’s clear from viewers takes and a real critical think that the show right now has a real problem and looks questionable.

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