‘Riches’ Creator Abby Ajayi Explains Why Paternity Cliffhanger ‘Felt Right’: ‘What’s the Worst Thing That Can Happen Now?’ [SPOILERS]

David Hindley/Prime Video

SPOILER ALERT: This story contains major spoilers for Episodes 5 and 6 of “Riches” on Amazon Prime Video.

Outside of Abby Ajayi’s “Riches” making headlines as one of the few — if not only — Nigerian-British/American family dramas, what seems to be leaving audiences mesmerized by the battle in the Richards household is the massive cliffhangers stemming from Nina’s (Deborah Ayorinde) final coup to resume her place as CEO of their family’s hair and cosmetics business, Flair and Glory. 

Season 1 of the Amazon Prime Video series closes with two paternity bombshells that shake up the warring sides of the family. To add more twisted branches to an already confusing family tree, in Episode 5, Nina and Simon (siblings from the same mother in America) discover that Wanda (Nneka Okoye) — who they think is their half-sister — is not the biological daughter of their late father Stephen (Hugh Quarshie) and his second wife Claudia (Sarah Niles).

In the finale episode, the pair also found out another sibling lies in hiding somewhere. Without knowing the newly uncovered half-sibling is a product of infidelity with Maureen (Hermione Norris), Nina and Simon are left to question if they should search for the mysterious brother while the audience waits to learn if Wanda will ever learn the truth about her real parents. 

Ajayi, whose writing credits include “How to Get Away With Murder” and “Inventing Anna,” has had more than enough experience in turning up the drama on TV. 

“I’ve always loved family dramas, but I especially think the stakes are really high in family business dramas,” the showrunner says. “I just love the way that those sort of normal, run-of-the mill family tensions gain higher stakes, and they spill in from the boardroom to the sitting room. Like, mixing blood and money can go very wrong, basically.”

Her specific approach to tackling the major shifts for the Richards family, she says, was thinking: “What’s the worst thing that can happen now?”

Throughout the season, Claudia faces off against Nina as an evil stepmother whose main goal is to overthrow Nina as the newly appointed CEO of the family company. In the fifth episode, Nina takes a big leap to change the tides of Claudia’s campaign to sell parts of the company to an outside conglomerate by forging an agreement: Nina promises her silence about the truth about Wanda’s identity in exchange for Claudia’s vow to stop the sale.

“What would bring Claudia –– what would make her beg Nina? What would kind of bring her low? Similarly, it was just about what are the types of secrets? Maureen was there from the beginning, and I was just like, ‘There’s got to be more to those relationships,'” said Ajayi of the secret son she wrote into the finale episode. 

“When you think about our family dynamic, it just felt right that there would be a paternity question there. And again, for Claudia, that could be kind of the worst thing she could imagine. Similarly, Wanda is such a daddy’s girl, that for that to be a story that —  if it’s successful — we get to come back to exploring that. Her grief, and that realization of kind of losing her identity would be really an incredible one for that character for the actor,” she said, teasing a possible second season.

With the question of Nina and Simon leaving the company to return to their original lives in the U.S. off the table, that’s only one piece of the puzzle solved. In the beginning of the season, the American pair were unknowingly –– and reluctantly –– thrown into the midst of an enigmatic puzzle when they crossed the pond for the funeral of their estranged father. But, despite him being dead, the siblings are closer than ever to learning who their father was behind the mystique of his money and status.

By the finale episode, Nina and Simon grew closer to their British siblings once both sides learned to rely on each other when faced with outside forces. Nevertheless, with several secrets still on the table, the road to peace remains far out of reach for the Richards.

“Riches” Season 1 is currently available for streaming on Amazon Prime Video.