On Wednesday, Feb. 1, Netflix released their new documentary, “Gunther’s Millions,” which follows the story of the world’s most decadent dog and the cult that surrounds him. The idea of a dog worth almost a billion euros may seem like a fantasy but it’s actually a true story. But while an adorably rich German shepherd may be the stuff of dreams, the people surrounding him are things of nightmares.
Gunther VI is a German shepherd who inherited his fortune from Carlotta Leibenstein, a rich German countess who made a large portion of her wealth through pharmaceuticals. Since she possessed no direct relatives, after her passing, she opened a trust to leave the wealth to her beloved dog in hopes that canine generations would continue to carry on her legacy. This is not dissimilar from our very own Jonathan, who comes from a long line of huskies. But the difference is that Jonathan isn’t surrounded by European porn stars, cocaine and A5 wagyu beef. At least that’s what I assume.
The main crux of this story is that Gunther is a testament to everything wrong with the trust fund system. Here, we have a dog and his manager overseeing a billion euros worth of property that is left to our adorable canine friend. Maurizio Mian, the man in charge, was known for his eccentric personality and his willingness to spend at large in order to live the playboy lifestyle. Mian doesn’t actually possess any of the money, but when your boss has no opposable thumbs, there are not many who can stand in the way of your financial decisions.
“Gunther’s Millions” is as much a documentary as “Keeping up with the Kardashians” is a biopic on one of the most affluent families in the last two decades. Yes, this is true on a technical level, but the limited series mostly resembles reality television. From the very style of filming to the character interviews, you’d be hard-pressed to find anything that mimics serious journalism.
This show is like an acid trip for European reality TV. While I don’t have extensive experience with European television, I know a poorly crafted story when I see one. The editing and the jump cuts are all over the place, as if the editors played a game of Twister to decide who got the last call. The music swells and then abruptly cuts off before we’re whiplashed into the next scene through a series of jump cuts and montages.
Documentaries in a reality TV show style don’t have to be horrible. “Tiger King” proved to us that you can make an interesting story with larger-than-life characters but still maintain a certain quality of narrative that allows for the natural flow of a story. You find yourself entrenched in the accounts of Joe Exotic and Carol Baskin immediately, but “Gunther’s Millions” doesn’t have that same appeal. Even Gunther, the center of the story, barely gets any screen time. And quite frankly, that’s a shame considering how insufferable every other character is.