TV & Movies

Glamour, wealth and even murder? A new Dynasty adapts to a new era

Can a remake of the popular 1980’s soap opera be equally as good?

A very popular soap-opera from the 1980’s has resurfaced as a reboot. The premiere of the rebooted Dynasty was on October 11 2017, and my friends and I have been obsessed with the dramatic feel of the show. Just the first episode alone included an affair, a murderer, a mistress, a widow and of course, family drama with lots of secrets.

Before the show aired, I knew about the original Dynasty because of all the hype my family told me when I asked them about what they liked watching during the 80’s. They’ve described it as a show that glued them to the TV and captured the interest of people not only in the US but also in Europe where my family lived at the time. Everyone there was obsessed with the American soap-opera. So I already had high expectations for the new series.

Comparing the new series with the 1981 version shows how the different characters have been modernized to fit today’s societal standards. It’s important for shows today to present a diverse casting and explain important topics in our reality viewers can be aware of. Such as why going green can reduce climate change, or how it doesn’t matter who we love. I decided it would be a good choice to view an episode of the original so I can see the differences more clearly. The new writers and producers changed several of the characters to create a more ethical cast, and created characters who identify themselves as LGBTQ.

STEVEN CARRINGTON 1981 VS 2017

In the original show, Steven–played by Al Corey–was an ambitious man who both hated and wanted approval from his father. Both the original and reboot share that complex relationship. That said, he didn’t do much for the Carrington business. He mostly focused on what was going on at home. Unlike the reboot where his character instantly began fighting for a “greener” company.

In the reboot, Steven Carrington (James Mckay) has become a gay environmentalist character who stays up to date on trends in business and act with sassy flair. He wants to change the Carrington Oil Industry into a more “green” company. The role became an instant favourite in the show. The 2017 character shows how time has changed drastically and how as a society we’re much more aware of our planet–or at least try to be. This character has a great message to future viewers to show. He has a dedication towards the environment and wants to make good positive changes.

FALLON CARRINGTON 1981 VS 2017

The 1981 version of Fallon Carrington (Pamela Sue Martin) isn’t as powerful as the character in the reboot. She is equally as hard-headed and bold, but seems to be lacking the ambitious mind-set that Elizabeth Gillies has. I found her much more “fragile” and very feminine. This is alright for the time the original show was aired, but today a show like this is less likely to portray women controlled by men.

In the reboot Fallon Carrington is a hard-headed, ambitious, bold character who is planning to create her own company while competing head-to-head with her father, Blake. She was originally going to fight for the role of co-CEO until the newly-wedded wife Krystle, took her spot. Therefore she went on to create her own company. The 2017 actress Elizabeth Gillies, who plays the character, is a great example for women in the business industry today. She teaches them that they can do what men do but ten times better. This shows the time difference for women drastically, and proves how much society has changed their views about women throughout all work industries.

BLAKE CARRINGTON 1981 VS 2017

Blake Carrington–played by Grant Show–is the man who says that family is always business no matter the situation. He is a powerful character in the reboot as the owner of a respected well-earned oil company. He got married to Krystle, but jealousy occurs when Fallon–his daughter–finds out he offered the second best top position of the company to Krystle.

John Forsythe who played the character originally, is no different than the new one. Both men show what it means to be a powerful businessman and try to resolve family issues. Out of all the roles, this one is portrayed the least differently. I think the producers didn’t want to change this character because, to reach the same level of drama, they need to have this character dominant especially since the show surrounds itself around the family business.

KRYSTLE CARRINGTON 1981 VS 2017

The original character played by Linda Evans–is quite polar opposite to the reboot. Her character is very innocent and light-hearted. The only resemblance these characters share is they both had an affair with a guy named Matthew, and are disliked by their step-daughter.

In the reboot Krystle is a “black-sheep” character as described by her nephew. She is a character who persuades you without trying, and who is hiding dark secrets that only the butler knows. She took the role of co-CEO, a role that Fallon wanted. Nathalie Kelley portrays a seducing character with a sinful past. Compared to the 1981 version of this character, this type of female character in Hollywood-esque shows haven’t quite changed entirely. They still act innocent, but unlike the original, this character isn’t afraid to speak her mind. With that in mind, she is also much less conservative and more confident than the original.

JEFF COLBY 2017 VS 1981

Jeff Colby is one of those underdog characters that you assume isn’t important, but is actually an asset to the show. Sam Adegoke plays the Colby in the reboot as a perplexing character that captivates your attention in the very first episode. He’s the type of character that makes you second-think his actions and see if he is the culprit.

A rather complex character in the original, John James Anderson brings this character to life with a rather interesting twist. Like the reboot, you need to second-think his actions but his persona becomes much more powerful as the show goes on. In both the original and reboot, they’re both the enemies to Blake Carrington because of the competition they are in. No matter what era of television, always expect to see men fight head-to-head physically, or verbally.

JOSEPH ANDERS 1981 VS 2017

Lee Bergere who plays the original butler is much more stern and quite single-minded, but also relatable to the reboot. He believes he is also correct just because he has been around for many years, and unless he is corrected by his boss Blake Carrington, he won’t listen to anyone’s opinion. Both actors play this role quite perfectly for the timeline they are placed in.

Joseph Anders is your character who knows everything about everyone. He is a butler, but likes to take research of new people that enter the Carrington household, so if anyone wants to threaten them, he can blackmail back. Alan Dale, who plays this mysterious role in the reboot, brings this character to life with a posh personality and a well-mannered class. I thought this role seemed anachronistic today. Do wealthier people still have butlers? Still, this character brings a fair to the show even though this is a side-character. I’m interested in how he will be included as the show goes on.

MICHAEL CULHANE 2017 VS 1981

This character, who is the eyes and ears of the show, had an affair with the daughter of Blake Carrington. Robert Christopher Riley has this role on point. His loyalty and mysterious vibe is handy for all the dirty work that Fallon puts him up to. He is also very kind and considerate, and would take action if anyone were to threaten the family.

In the old series, I disliked was how Michael (Wayne Northrop) flirts with Fallon, and is quite provocative with his actions. He “lures in” Fallon and to me that felt uncomfortable to watch. He has a mischievous look and doesn’t seem trustworthy. This character has definitely improved morally since its’ original introduction. He isn’t so much of a creep, and is much more loyal. That said, as I found myself watching the reboot more, the loyalty washed away. But the transition was subtle and not awkwardly quick like the original.

SAMMY JO (1981) VS SAM FLORES (2017)

Heather Locklear–who originally plays this character–plays the love interest of Steven Carrington, and shares multiple common ground with Rafael. The actress portrays the women who came into Steven’s life and is madly in love with him. The reboot and original both share their sassy personalities and love for Steven.

In the reboot, the writers and producers completely revamped this character. Rafael de la Fuente–who plays Sam Flores, is a stylish “bad-boy” who knows how to fool people with his charm. Nonetheless, he is also selfish in some moments, and will rather save himself by lying rather than simply telling the truth. His role contributes to what possibly could be the most scandalous situation in this season. He is the nephew of Krystal, and knows dirt about her. Krystle’s past is slowly making an appearance and the only person who knows everything she did, is Sam. I think the revamped version of this character refreshes the show quite a lot. It didn’t completely copy all the original characters, and this way it was able to have it’s own originality in the reboot.

The differences between the characters aren’t the only differences the shows offer. The two versions of Dynasty themselves are completely different. The original is much slower and less intense than the new one. When I watched the first episode of the original, my very first reaction was how different the style of filming was. The cinematographers would hide behind trees to capture a car scene, they would zoom into the character’s faces for a dramatic effect, and they would capture a lot of nature clips as their transitions. In contrast, the reboot is much more cinematic. When a car scene occurs, they move forward towards the people inside the car, their transitions preview the place of the following scene, and they don’t zoom into character faces but rather add ominous music or foreshadowing.

It’s a good thing that the reboot has changed to fit our standards. I grew up with a different mentality than my parents generation. They grew up in a very white-washed culture, unlike myself where I grew up with a large diversity of culture and more acceptance of differences between people. The original Dynasty included almost no non-white actors. As I was watching it, I found myself cringing at the sexist comments they would make and the stereotypical actions of the female characters. Some of the actions made the females in the show very much like “damsels in distress.” Whereas today the show includes powerful women with an ambition to dominate the business world, and the men in the show appreciate that ambition and find it attractive. Not only has the reboot expressed the motivation for women to become just as powerful as men in the business world, but also shows much more acceptance of people who identify themselves as LGBTQ.

I think the reboot shows that as a society we are making big steps, especially in Hollywood. Even about ten years ago actors who were gay were portrayed very inaccurately and stereotypically in shows, and many were only men. Today–not only on Dynasty–producers and directors see that these portrayals reproduce the harmful stereotypes that we as a society are trying to move past. The reboot has made the show much more diverse as well. The show now includes people of colour and different ethnicities, and not only white people. Including people from different cultures makes the show more “relatable” to the diverse audience that is watching.

Dynasty has become a big hit within viewers of all ages, and has managed to capture much more than expected. This show has not disappointed me at all, and I guarantee you will find it interesting too.

Dynasty is on CW Wednesdays at 9/10 c and on Netflix on Thursdays.

Images are property of CW and Getty.

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