queen of versailles

Watched this documentary on the Passionate Eye last night (I think it’s also available on Netflix). It’s pretty fantastic on a variety of levels. The filmmakers started out making a movie about the uber-wealthy Siegel’s, who were building the largest and most expensive single-family home in the U.S. But the market collapse in 2008 turned the film into an oddly funny cautionary tale.

Before you start feeling too worried about the Siegels, I’m happy to report that they are back on their feet, suing the filmmakers and finishing their travesty of a “home”. So hopefully some day they will get to use those ten kitchens, roller/ice rink, regulation size baseball diamond and closets that are big enough for six families to live in. Okay… sarcasm is out of my system…

The interviews with the two oldest kids and the nannies, although a small part of the film, were the most interesting. Especially the nannies. Quite heartbreaking, actually. But I was most fascinated by the mom, Jackie. She seems like an intelligent and down-to-earth person, often very funny and self-depriciating, but also completely delusional and living in a fantasy land. And she’s my age!

Well, she’s older than me but in the film, she’s the age I am now and our lives are so far apart. She’s my age…. with eight children, married to a man 30 years older than her. My age, with huge fake boobs and a shopping habit of a million a year. In the middle of their financial crisis, she still managed to keep up with her laser treatments and botox injections. Their Christmas morning is nuts! Heaps and heaps of junk that no one will ever use. Their house is a mess. Dog shit, toys, stuff. Lots and lots and lots of stuff.

As I write this in my little apartment, living on less than $20,000 this year, sitting on my used furniture and eating off of used dishes,  I can’t help but feel that I’m so much happier than her. I actually felt sorry for her. I have love and I have autonomy. She is trapped by wealth. And as charming as she is in the film, she also seems kind of useless. Like she has no purpose in this world and all her worth is tied to having money. Made me a bit sad.