Bringing back “Dynasty,” one of the most iconic ‘80s primetime soap operas, nearly 30 years after it went off the air would naturally require some updates. The CW has tackled the challenge head-on in ways that makes the cast far more diverse than in the original.
Executive producer Josh Schwartz (“The O.C.,” “Gossip Girl”) felt that the time was right for a return to the Carrington family. “We are definitely living in an age of dynasties,” he said at the Television Critics Association press tour panel on Wednesday. Pointing to the Trumps, the Clintons, the Kardashians, and the Murdochs, he noted, “That was something that really got us excited to do the show.”
Fellow executive producer Sallie Patrick also noted that the division and power plays within these dynastic families and on the show is “a metaphor for this country now.”
On the show, Blake Carrington (Grant Show) has issues keeping his family members in line: His son Steven (James Mackay) disagrees with him on environmental policy, his daughter Fallon (Elizabeth Gillies) is angling for the COO position of their Atlanta-based company, Carrington Atlantic, and his young, soon-to-be bride Cristal Flores (Nathalie Kelley) is clashing with Fallon and appears to have a dark past. Throw in romantic intrigues with the chauffeur, rival family the Colbys, and a mysterious man who is connected with Cristal, and that’s just a taste of the drama coming this season.
Here’s a look at four ways that “Dynasty” has been updated to better reflect modern America:
The Rival Colby Family Is Black
Since the series is set in Atlanta, it only makes sense that one of the wealthiest families is African American. In the pilot, Fallon attempts to betray her father, who had gone behind her back, by using rival Jeff Colby (Sam Adegoke). Wakeem Hollis will play Monique Colby.
Krystle Carrington Is Now Latina and Spells Her Name “Cristal”
Kelley, who’s Peruvian-Australian, said, “It was a bold and daring choice to make Cristal from Venezuela considering what’s happening [in that country] right now. The geopolitics of Venezuela on The CW… the spelling of her name reflects this new modern version of the character.”
Steven Carrington’s Homosexuality Isn’t an Issue
On the original series, Blake Carrington was absolutely revolted by his son’s sexuality, and as a result, the series trotted out some incredibly offensive and homophobic lines. Schwartz said, “The relationship between Blake and Steven is not about [Steven’s] sexuality. Steven is confidently gay, and Blake accepts him.” Instead, the father and son butt heads over frakking and environmental causes.
Sammy Jo Is Now a Gay Latina Man
Although original “Dynasty” fans will miss Heather Locklear’s scheming version of Sammy Jo, the updated version played by Rafael de la Fuente has a duplicitous nature as well. Executive producer Stephanie Savage credited Patrick for the gender-bending casting choice. “With Steven Carrington out and proud, it makes sense for Sammy Jo to be a man,” she said. In the original series, Steven married Sammy Jo despite his sexuality. And since Sammy Jo is related to Cristal, it makes sense to update his ethnicity as well.
All changes aside, fans of the original series are already curious who could possibly do the role of Alexis justice after Joan Collins’ over-the-top diva portrayal. While the producers would not reveal casting, Patrick hinted when the show would finally introduce the rabble-rouser. “We’re taking our delicious time, and it will happen sometime this season… We’re building up the spirit of Alexis.”
“Dynasty” premieres on Wednesday, Oct. 11 at 9 p.m. ET on The CW. Watch a trailer for The CW’s “Dynasty” below: