Guilty Pleasure: Dynasty (1981)

The 1980s were the “Greed is Good” Decade, where big money and the rich people that spent it fabulously were the national obsession. In 1981, when television network ABC gave tv writer/ producers Esther and Richard Shapiro the green light to create a primetime soap opera, the duo wanted to bravely go where soaps had never gone before.  What the duo created was DYNASTY (1981), a glitzy (and often campy) hit that would go on top the ratings for much of its 1981-1989 run.

The saga of the Carrington and Colby families, two wealthy, Denver-based oil magnates came to epitomize this over-the-top era. During those nine seasons, not only was the usual betrayal, murder and scheming that soaps are known for front and center. What really set DYNASTY apart from the pack were storylines dealing with themes that included homosexuality, incest, interracial siblings and lots and lots of sequins! The clothes were so fabulous that the show’s costume designer, Nolan Miller, became a household name himself.  Veteran actor John Forsythe played oilman Blake Carrington and blonde beauty Linda Evans his beloved (and perpetually beleaguered) second wife, Krystle.

Though DYNASTY started off as somewhat of an inferior clone to DALLAS (the CBS network’s hit predecessor) what gave this show a major jolt of adrenaline was the second season arrival of Joan Collins, as Blake’s scheming ex-wife Alexis. It is fair to say that Collins, a sultry British brunette once dubbed “the poor man’s Elizabeth Taylor” became, at the ripe age of 48, the prototype of what we now call a  “MILF”. Never before had an “older” woman been portrayed as both voraciously sexual AND cunning. Alexis would go on to seduce countless men, marry a (considerably younger) one, engage in countless legendary catfights with Krystle and give Blake a serious run for his money in the boardroom by assuming control of rival oil company ColbyCo. Basically, Collins stole the whole damn show!

It is fair to say that Collins, a sultry British brunette once dubbed “the poor man’s Elizabeth Taylor” became, at the ripe age of 48, the prototype of what we now call a  “MILF”

The show’s creators originally planned to push the envelope with the character of Steven Carrington, Blake’s hunky gay son, portrayed first by actor Al Corley and then by Jack Coleman. Corley allegedly departed the series after the second season because he felt he had been promised his character’s homosexuality would be more pivotal to storylines and that the writers ultimately failed to deliver.

The CW Network bravely/foolishly decided to give this show a reboot in 2017 with a new cast of actors taking over the same characters depicted in the original.  Try as they might, they won’t be able to perfectly capture the zeitgeist of the times quite like the iconic original.

ABOUT OUR CONTRIBUTOR:
Greg Lewis is a pop culture and entertainment vulture. As a freelance writer living in LA, he’ll never run out of material, even if he runs out of Xanax.