Does a remake of Dynasty, the legendary soap opera that ran through the 1980s, appeal to you?
Your answer to that question will determine whether or not you should watch The CW’s latest series. While this show may update the action to 2017, it’s not all that different from the series it’s based on: a sudsy, over-the-top melodrama filled with sex, backstabbing, and good-looking people with questionable moral compasses.
For the uninitiated: Dynasty follows the incredibly rich Carringtons, who made their money on oil and now spend much of their time fighting for control of the family company. The series’ narrator and de-facto protagonist is Fallon (Elizabeth Gillies), daughter of the company’s CEO who assumes she’ll one day take over , and already exudes the smarminess of a high powered executive.
Her brother, meanwhile, is the black sheep of the family – an out and proud gay liberal who is roped back into his family’s drama while trying to make the company as environmentally friendly as possible. Things become complicated, however, when their father suddenly marries a PR executive from his company (Nathalie Kelley) and names her CEO. Backstabbing and manipulating ensues.
Credit must be given to the writers for actually making an effort to move this dated storyline into the present, as the original Dynasty, like most shows from its era, has gottem problematic with age. This interpretation of the series is racially diverse, sex-positive, and LGBTQ+ friendly, adjusting the characters for modern times in ways that make sense and still allow for inoffensive melodrama. The show even manages to get political – or, as political as possible for a show that climaxes with a wedding day catfight.
Obviously, the oil industry is viewed in a much harsher light than it was 30 years ago, and the pilot discusses fracking and the need for clean energy. But, for those of you who are just tuning in for the drama, rest assured you will find plenty of it. Before the first hour fades to black, a shockingly compelling murder mystery begins, and intriguing clues are dropped about the backstories and motivations of various characters. Fans of soap operas will undoubtedly be pulled in.
It’s also worth noting that the series’ two leads, Elizabeth Gillies and Nathalie Kelley, don’t so much elevate the material as they do revel in it. As the power-hungry Fallon, Gillies joyfully chews the scenery around her, camping it up just enough to make her a charismatic leading lady. She’s a total blast, and has killer comedic instincts, almost winking at the audience and encouraging them to laugh at the absurdity of the whole series.
Kelley, meanwhile, displays the same melodramatic skills she exhibited in UnReal. Unfortunately, many of the male stars seem to be sleepwalking their way through the show. Hopefully they’ll join the ladies and have some fun soon.
Dynasty is, in many ways, review-proof. It gives viewers exactly what they expect, and while that might not be “good” in the traditional sense of the world, it sure is entertaining. In this Golden Age of Television, there is no shortage of great content to watch. But, when it comes to brainless fun, you could do worse than this silly, but stylish and fast-paced series.
Overall rating: 6 out of 10.
Dynasty airs Wednesday nights on The CW Network.