When it comes to TV, what was once old is new-ish again thanks to an increasing number of reboots and revivals of popular shows. The results have been a mix of good (Will & Grace), bad (Fuller House) and just plain ugly (Twin Peaks.) The latest show to get a makeover is Dynasty, the splashy, trashy, campy nighttime soap opera that ran from 1981-1989 on ABC. Resurrecting Dynasty is a bold move for The CW given their core demographic is millennials -- ages 18-34 -- who were still in diapers, the womb or a twinkle in their parents' eyes when Dynasty became a cultural phenomenon.
After viewing the pilot, "I Hardly Recognized You," it's obvious The CW isn't aiming to woo fans of the original (although there are some Easter eggs thrown in for good measure.) Whether or not a more mature audience embraces the remake, the network still reaps the benefits of a reboot: generating a ton of buzz with less effort than it would require to market a completely new series, capitalizing on the sentimentality surrounding the original while updating it to appeal to younger viewers. Amongst all of the utterly generic crime procedurals, medical dramas and sitcoms, Dynasty has the potential to be the network's next big hit and reignite the popularity of the soap opera genre.
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Meet the Carringtons (Again)
Dynasty chronicles the lives of the Carrington family, whose patriarch, Blake (Grant Show), runs a global energy empire. Blake's daughter, Fallon (Elizabeth Gillies), is ambitious and determined to become COO of Carrington Atlantic, carrying on the family legacy. Less interested in following in daddy's footsteps is Blake's son, Steven (James Mackay) who prefers to travel the world in an effort to improve it, not conquer it.
Fallon and Steven are summoned home to the family's sprawling Atlanta estate and learn that Blake is about to marry the lovely and young Cristal Flores (Nathalie Kelley). Cristal is sweet and down-to-earth -- she prefers wildflowers over roses, beer over bubbly and David Bowie over string quartets. Cristal is no gold-digger; she has career aspirations of her own.
A Nip Here, a Tuck There
Amid the more superficial differences from the original -- the cast is noticeably more diverse -- there have been more significant changes. The homophobia so prevalent in the early seasons of the original is no more. This spares the character of Steven, who is gay, from a whole lot of politically-incorrect melodrama (Blake referred to his son as a "faggot" during the show's original premiere episode) and Brokeback Mountain-like angst. Steven has more pep in his step, free from all that pesky self-loathing that plagued his predecessor. The prior source of the tension between Blake and his son, Steven's sexuality, shifts to their differing political views.
Blake, originally played by John Forsythe, was ruthless when it came to both his business and his personal life. The tycoon's turn-ons included bigotry, sexism and rape. Blake is a bit more sympathetic this time around, portrayed by Show as a man struggling to keep up with the technological advances that have evened the playing field between his business and those of his adversaries and the cultural shifts that so many of America's one percenters perceive as a threat to not only their power, but their very existence. Blake is still a dick, just a different kind of dick.
And with no Alexis (Blake's first wife) in the picture yet, the aggressive, savvy, snarky and antagonistic mean-girl Fallon will be the bane of her stepmother's existence (or is it stepmonster?)
Although the pilot might be a bit bland for some viewers' tastes, lacking a Trump-esque design aesthetic and floor-length sequin gowns, Dynasty introduces enough intrigue to leave viewers wanting more (more sex, more scandal, more backstabbing, more catfights.) And with Josh Schwartz (The O.C., Gossip Girl) serving as one of the creative minds behind this reboot, Dynasty should deliver.
Dynasty vs. Prestige TV
The looming question is can The CW's Dynasty survive, let alone stand out, among more prestigious fare? The original Dynasty reflected the opulence of the '80s, a time when greed was good, men believed women did their best work in the bedroom as opposed to the boardroom, the country was experiencing a great economic boom and the series capitalized on viewers' eagerness to watch lifestyles of the obscenely rich and dysfunctional play out on the small screen once a week.
By throwing in some catfights and outlandish storylines (murder, kidnapping, secret offspring) the show became an irresistible combination of mindless and engrossing television -- escapism at its best. Dynasty paved the way for Revenge, Empire, Nashville, Beverly Hills 90210 and a ton of other guilty pleasures.
If The CW's reboot of Dynasty can capture the mood of the current social climate as successfully as the original and still and manage to entertain a modern audience, it will be a revival worthy of it's name. And so far, it's off to a good start.
Watch the Dynasty trailer:
Are you a fan of the original Dynasty? Are you over all the reboots and revivals? Do you think Dynasty will be a hit or a miss? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.
(Image and Video Courtesy of The CW)