For many of us who saw the 1st episode of Dynasty airing this week on The CW and day later hitting Netflix servers around the globe, the first impression turned into an incredible doze of confusion mixed with frustration.
We are hearing about if for years now, but the long awaited return of 80s cult soap the ‘DYNASTY’ finally arrived and it comes from CW (oh no!). With CW, you kinda know what you can expect, while they did nail the Gossip Girl, most of their shows are avoiding tackling any deep subjects and are in its base frivolous. The first episode of the new reboot, left the viewers confused and simply said unaware of what they actually watched. Are you watching a badly acted out parody of the iconic show, or the actual presentation of a rich American family in current day and age. The critics themselves are baffled, most of them left with negative remarks. Everybody is left with question ‘what happened?‘ right away drawing comparatives to the original show, which scored 9 season, and with its ups and downs still followed a clear story-line, along with its often tense but masterfully acted out scenes. The original show was simply said a thrilling hour of TV time, from infidelity, deceit, jealousy, cat fights, as well as challenging social sterothypes in the era of Raegan administration. The old ‘Dynasty’ magnificently ruled the definitions of an impeccable soap drama, while the new ‘Dynasty’ is left with nothing.
THE FABULOUS LIFE OF THE RICH ELITE
To start from the beginning, back then most of the original audience saw for the first time glitz and glamour of the immensely rich, haute couture, the opulent lives of the rich, and the way the billionaires experience joy and sadness. Giving you the synopsis of the show now makes no sense, you can simply YouTube it, discover some of the original clips and also find the full ‘Dynasty Documentary‘ available for free viewing.
Shortly, the centre of the Dynasty story is its lead, while not very actionable, the patriarch of the family Blake Carrington who is the CEO of his company Denver Carrington. Early on in the show, just as in the reboot, he marries his secretary Krystle, while from the first marriage he already has two kids – the incredibly spoiled daughter Fellon and son Steven who is a homosexual, of course, at all the frustration of his very patriarchal father who just can’t deal with his sons homosexuality to the point of even killing Steven’s lover. Blake’s real nemesis is Jeff Colby, whose main objective is to destroy Blake’s empire and benefit his own Colby Co. The things move onto into a classic billionaire vs billionaire warfare until the middle of the first season when Alexis Carrington enters the stage, Blake’s first wife who is to marry his nemesis adding up Colby to her name, as well as Dexter and so on – later in the show. Alexis is simply there to make the lives of Carrington’s miserable till the last episode. A myriad of actors found fame on the show, of course John Forsythe as Blake and Linda Evans as Krystle got most of the fame but also the villain everybody remembers to this day Joan Collins in the role of Alexis. While for Evans and Forsythe, post show fame dwindled down, Joan Collins spectacularly appeared on numerous shows, some under Aaron Spelling some in other productions. The authors of the show Esther Shapiro and Richard Alan Shapiro never again found the success as big after the original ended, while the producer Aaron Spelling succeeded as one of Hollywood’s most successful and richest men bringing shows such as Beverly Hills 90210, Sunset Beach, Charmed, 7th Heaven and many more.
THE MANIC POPULARITY OF 80s DYNASTY
The original show resulted in a never to this day seen popularity around the globe, not only was it a massive hit in the United States, throughout Europe as well it was the talk of the town. During air times, streets were literally abandoned, while people would talk about the show throughout the week, reading recaps from newsstands selling recap Dynasty novels! Bear in mind, in that day and age many households did not even have a VCR, and could only watch a replay of the show the day after. VHS tape were smuggled out of the states to Europe, where the show aired ahead … all of that is incredibly naive and funny in today’s day and age of Netflix.
Fashion itself was massively influenced by this 80s show, as well as other industries. The show was so popular in the United States stores were selling licenced and often un-authorized furniture sets called Carrington, while perfume shops were selling off their racks perfumes called Krystle and Blake, but stores also sold fashion lines officially licensed by the show. While the magazines were overflowing with advice on how to style your hair like Krystle or Alexis or how to cook a real Carrington and Colby lunch. The shows original Costume Designer Nolan Miller never allowed for the chracted int he show to be dressed the same in two scenes unless that was requested by the storyline. Krystle and Alexis, the two stars of the show always in a violent feud were dressed only once the same (on purpose), while their epic and very violent and over the top fights were a spectacle in every season (still a jewel of 80s TV in YouTube clips).
ERASING TABOOS AND TACKLING HOMOPHOBIA
The original Dynasty challenged social taboos and erased the stereotypes of the president Reagan era. It openly spoke against homophobia, giving a first encounter with homosexuality on TV screens. Considered a scandal for that time, two men for the first time shared a kiss on TV screens in a show as popular, not able to claim that is the first gay kiss ever on TV but it was certainly the most talked about. Actor Al Corley who played Steven said he received thousands of letters from people who found themselves in his on-screen battles with society’s prejudice of homosexuality. In the letters, often anonymous, people confessed how the character of Steven helped them accept themselves, saved their lives and helped them come out publicly to their friends and family for the first time.
The show also for the first time talked openly about mental illness and battling depression to only name a few of the taboos the show creators challenged. From today’s perspective, it might look very odd, but the society in the United States and Europe was still deeply closed into patriarchal and misogynistic stereotypes. Looking down on homosexuality but also not acknowledging mental illness and struggle with depression.
WHAT THE NEW DYNASTY IS MISSING
This is where the new Dynasty entirely fails, it encounters none of those problems. Even the racial taboo, is solved by making Colby’s black, and that is where its left of. In all fairness, race was never the focal point of the show, however afro-american actress Dominique Devereux captivated the screen with her beauty as well as her epic battles with Alexis, at the same time remaining ever chic and elegant. The fashion we see on todays show, looks laughable and cheap, the costumes look tacky and bring nothing to the fashion arena. Unlike shows such as the orginal Dynasty and Sex & The City, or even CW’s Gossip Girl who were itself style inspiration, it is hard to imagine CW is on its way to captivate the fashion world again. The fact the story has moved from Denver to Atlanta, makes the fashion itself on the show hardly far from The Real Housewives of Atlanta‘s cheap version of glamour. If anything the ladies of the RHOA are currently winning the game, both in glamour and drama department.
The acting itself is at best underwhelming, with a cast of unknown or hardly popular actors it is hard to warm up to these characters. While Denver Carrington was an oil company, this time the show is entertaining the thought of an eco-energy empire, with a wind turbine causing a disaster already on episode one we are not sure what even the message is. However, most likely not to upset the feminist in us, Krystle is no longer a poor secretary, she is a successful board member and an all in one boss-lady. But also to keep the Latin community happy, instead of a blonde, Krystle is a gorgeous Latina. No doubt, the reboot did correct the racial inequality of its original which we have to give them a point for.
Finally, no logic, bad writing, bad acting, are more than easy to spot in the 2017 Dynasty. What remains unclear is what message do the new authors want to convey and if there even is a message? Is the show to glorify the United States of Obama administration, or make fun of the ever attention grabbing Donald Trump Administration (the episode 1 itself starts with the mention of Trumps). What is certain, nobody and even the authors know where this is heading.
Also, to end on an even sadder note, the CW, entirely forgot the show needs an epic opening credits sequence!
Text by Zarko Davinic, editor at DESIGN SCENE, share with us your thoughts @designscene on twitter and instagram or in the comment section.