The Carringtons are television royalty. The original Dynasty aired from 1981-1989 and it’s still as relevant as ever in the current television landscape. I should know, having just binged the entire original series this summer after only having seen sporadic reruns on television during high school.
The ’80s series was set in Denver, but the reboot is set in Atlanta with a few other cosmetic changes to update Dynasty for a new generation. Krystle Carrington, the new wife of Carrington patriarch Blake, is now Latina instead of a blond sweetheart. The Colbys, who were once family friends of the Carringtons and had their own (horrible) spinoff that was canceled after two seasons—as well as an alien-abduction cliffhanger—are now black and self-made millionaires. And in the original series, Steven Carrington struggled with his homosexuality and even married and had a child with Krystle’s niece, Sammy Jo. In this version, Sammy Joe is a man and Steven's queerness won’t be whisked under the rug.
The series opens with images of the Trumps and the Kardashians, as an effort to portray real-life American dynasties, but comparing this family to the Trump family is probably… ill-advised. Fallon insists that Trump is “the president our dad voted for,” and Steven even refers to the Trump family as “evil,” so we know the children are liberals. The series kicks off with Fallon waiting for her private jet, getting chatted up by a couple of bros who think she’s the stewardess. She combats this sexism and classism by using the information they give her to stage a buyout of a company named Wynn Briar—because these finance bros wouldn’t recognize the daughter of one of the richest families in America? The press used to follow the Carringtons around but nary a camera is seen in this pilot. Is this family poor? Can the CW not afford extras?
Fallon implores her brother Steven, who’s in Haiti, to come home because her big scoop is about to land her the COO job at their family company. People on television always have unrealistic expectations about promotions, as if people just randomly offer you promotions without addressing it beforehand. Or maybe that’s how rich white people get jobs. Who knows! Steven, who’s doing charity work, decides to drop it all and come home to celebrate his sister getting a new job. I’m not sure where she’s flying from, but Steven manages to pack and beat her home in the time it takes her to get home, get head from her chauffeur Michael Culhane, and then saunter into their mansion. Haiti is three hours from Georgia. Is this chick one of the ravens from Game of Thrones?
At the office, Blake Carrington is challenged by a Ms. Flores in a meeting about how he’s stuck in the past. She’s then told to “meet him at his home office.” They end up banging—because of course she’s his fiancée Cristal, not just some employee! It’s dumb misdirection for the audience because Cristal and Blake’s interactions at the office aren’t at all realistic for people who are engaged. Even if the engagement’s a secret, why not text her and tell her to meet instead of sending an assistant? It’s the first of very many dumb, illogical things in this pilot that should’ve ran smooth like Champagne.
Fallon and Steven arrive at home and we find out Steven’s gay because he makes fun of Fallon’s hair. I’m assuming the writers’ interactions with gay men have been solely based on reruns of Will and Grace. The siblings find Blake and Cristal going at it in the office and are met with the news that they’re about to get a new stepmom. Fallon is none too pleased about this; she thought her father’s big announcement was this COO job. She flounces off and asks Michael to dig up dirt on Cristal, because he’s her sex toy, chauffeur, and personal private eye. Black people are so good at multitasking in Dynasty!
Steven and Blake’s relationship seems to be strained—not because he’s gay but because Steven is a liberal into renewable energy who financed a protest against Blake’s company. Ah, the George Soros of Atlanta. Blake asks Steven to step in on the Wynn Briar acquisition because he has “common interests” with Bill Prather, the CEO. Turns out, it’s because Bill is gay and Steven is being pimped out by his dad to get a deal done. Literally every storyline on Gossip Girl involved someone being pimped out for a business deal or scheme, so you can absolutely tell Gossip Girl creators Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage are at the helm here.
Cristal celebrates her engagement with her girlfriends, who are shocked she’s marrying Blake because she’s been seeing someone named Matthew on the side. Matthew is married and his wife Claudia has an undefined mental illness that requires a nurse, so her friends are kind of awful monsters for pushing Cristal to be with Matthew! Cristal uses the evening to say goodbye to Matthew, which involves embracing him in his truck so Michael can surreptitiously take photos of them together. Fallon retrieves the photo and sends it to Blake.
Cristal isn’t only clashing with Blake, she’s also at odds with Joseph Anders, the majordomo of the Carrington household. He wants the engagement party in the ballroom, but she wants it outside with “Bowie on Spotify.” Nothing about Cristal says Bowie fan, but okay, Dynasty. Relate to the teens, I guess. Do teens even know who Bowie is? Blake invites Matthew to the mansion during his and Cristal’s engagement photos to ask him to take a look at the Wynn Briar acres, but also so he can put the screws to Cristal. Cristal calls him out on it and Blake admits he was jealous of Matthew. Cristal assures Blake that she only wanted to end things with him in person, so Blake makes it up to her by turning their engagement party into a surprise wedding.
Steven turns down Bill’s advances, but he meets a guy named Sammy Joe at the bar and hooks up with him. Sammy Joe steals money from Steven’s wallet after they’ve had sex, then flees. But he shows up at the surprise wedding because he’s… gasp… Cristal’s nephew. He also warns Steven that Cristal is the “black sheep” of the family, not him.
When Fallon realizes the engagement party is a wedding, she snatches the cake topper to Cristal’s cake, bites the heads off in front of her, then they launch into a catfight when she realizes Cristal has been named COO. This catfight is like… the worst catfight I’ve ever seen in my life, and it only lasts about two seconds. How do you manage to not even get a Dynasty catfight right? Even Blair and Serena’s fights on Gossip Girl were more epic. This show is really a bust at every single corner.
Fallon’s friend Monique Colby attends the wedding with her brother Jeff, who Fallon hopes to encourage to go in on a joint venture with Blake to buy the Atlanta Braves. Jeff is only interested in that body-ody-ody, however, because Fallon is apparently white girl ambrosia for every black man in Atlanta. Pissed off at her dad, Fallon joins forces with Jeff and urges him to buy Wynn Briar so she can name it Carrington-Wynn Briar and take on her father’s company.
Anders warns Cristal that he did a background check on her and that he’s going to keep her in line by moving Sammy Joe into the mansion, which, um, I guess. He’s mostly being petty because she gets her outside wedding set to Bowie’s “Modern Love” and he really wanted a string quartet. Her beautiful date comes to a halt, however, when Claudia drives to the Carrington mansion to cause a scene. There was a truck explosion at Wynn Briar and apparently Matthew is dead. “It wasn’t an accident!” Claudia screams at Blake in front the entire wedding party. “You killed my husband!” As far as classic Dynasty cliffhangers go, it’s no Claudia throwing a fake baby off a roof, but it’s decent.
For Dynasty Fans Only:
The original series’ theme song is played on the piano by Steven in a home video.
Joan Collins’ Alexis Colby is mentioned but has yet to appear. In the original series, she showed up in the second season premiere to testify against Blake after he killed Steven’s boyfriend.
Michael Culhane is also from the original series and he’s now black in this one. In the original, he romances Fallon then leaves town when Blake finds out. He returns years later a millionaire and romances Blake’s second daughter, Amanda, who his wife Alexis kept a secret from him.
Monique Colby is the new series’ version of Monica Colby, who Jeff didn’t know was his sister until the spinoff The Colbys. Years later, Alexis revealed that Monica’s mother had an affair and she wasn’t Jeff’s sister. In the original series they also shared a brother, Miles, played by Maxwell Caufield from Grease 2.
Matthew dies in the original series too, but it’s in a plane crash. He returns from the dead years later to terrorize the Carringtons and get Krystle back from Blake. His wife Claudia eventually married Steven then Adam, the Carrington child stolen at birth.
Majordomo Anders is driven to suicide in the original series and his daughter Kirby ends up living in the mansion and marrying Jeff. His son Sean returns years later to marry Alexis and get revenge on the Carringtons…