'Dynasty' Updates for the Modern Era With Less Homophobia, More Geopolitics

The producers behind the CW revival detailed how the classic primetime soap will change (and not change) for the present times.
Mark Hill/The CW

It wouldn't be Dynasty without a cat fight, but star Grant Snow promises "some sexual equality in the fighting" on the modern-day CW revival of the beloved primetime soap.

Returning to the small screen nearly 30 years after the ABC drama ended its nine-season run in 1989, the reboot hails from Gossip Girl duo Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage, and showrunner Sallie Patrick (Revenge). 

When producers first began mulling the idea of a reboot, they naturally met with series creators Esther and Richard Shapiro about just how to do that. "They talked a lot about family and the idea of whatever villainous things the characters in the show do that they never stop loving each other," Savage told reporters at the Television Critics Association summer press tour. That was "the central thing that held the show together for all those years."

Savage said they then examined "how to place the idea in the historical context of our day? What are the conversations people are having about politics, culture, climate change. ... There's so much going on, and we think the show can really be a part of the conversation."

Like the original, the new take follows two of America's wealthiest families, the Carringtons and the Colbys, as they feud for control over their fortune and their children. The drama will be told primarily through the perspectives of two women at odds: Fallon Carrington (Elizabeth Gillies), daughter of billionaire Blake Carrington (Show), and her soon-to-be stepmother, Cristal (Nathalie Kelley), a Hispanic woman marrying into this WASP family and America’s most powerful class. 

As many recall, Linda Evans portrayed Krystle in the original series, however the spelling of the name was changed because "it felt more organic to this Latino woman and her history," Kelley said. "This modern version represents a more current picture of what's happening in America, and the diversity of the cast really reflects that."

Kelley's character hails from Venezuela — something which will be discussed on the series. That's "another really bold and intelligent choice from them given what's happening there right now," she said. "It's really exciting and important to be talking about the geopolitics of Venezuela on a CW show."

The rivalry between Cristal and Fallon echoes that between Krystle and Alexis in the original series — something producers were aiming for. "This dynamic allows us to start hat kind of dynamic right away," Savage said, pointing to the success of the original feud.

While the competition between Cristal and Fallon will be a central part of the drama, the team behind the series said the rivalry will go beyond the surface. "They're not just vying for Blake's love as the father or the husband, but they want to run this business," Schwartz said.

"You have to ground those moments in character," Patrick added of the cat fights, which kick off right away in the pilot episode. "It was grounded in their emotions and who these women are and they just couldn’t hold back."

But can women still cat-fight in the modern era of feminism? Kelley thinks yes, and tried to draw a parallel to how women are currently fighting for equal pay and equal rights. "Why can't we also have the right to fight like men?" she said. "That's my feminist take on why we pull each other's hair out." 

As in the original series, another major source of tension comes courtesy of Blake and his son Steven. But this time, their clashes aren't over Stephen's homosexuality. Explained Snow, "2017 Blake can't be homophobic in the same way that 1983 Blake was, but he can have problems with his son not being the son that he wants him to be."

Added Schwartz: Steven is confidently gay. He's not trying to figure it out. He accepts him. There's no rancor over that issue. What they battle over is fracking and environmental causes. Even in more conservative pockets of the South, a lot of those dynamic are fraught."

Dynasty premieres Oct. 11 on The CW.