Pop Culture Intervention

‘Dynasty’: Then & Now — 5 Ways The Reboot Puts A Twist On The Original

The catfights are still there — but they are a little different.

Nearly 30 years ago, the original Dynasty came to a close on ABC after nine seasons and 220 episodes. Now, in the era known as the Golden Age of Television, the primetime soap opera returns on The CW with a reboot that both honors the predecessor but puts plenty of spins on it.


Dynasty was created to be competition for Dallas on CBS (which was already rebooted on TNT from 2012 to 2014) and gave us a show centered on the Carrington family, the family business, and the outside forces that constantly threaten these things (such as the Colbys). It's a new take on the beloved '80s show — though it moves the setting from Denver to Atlanta — but obviously puts a modern take on things with recognizable characters, storylines, and catfights plus a twist here or there.

Here are five highlights to help you tell the Dynasty from then and the Dynasty of now:

Treatment of sexual orientation.

One thing that made the original so groundbreaking — and controversial — was Steve Carrington (played first by Al Corley and later by Jack Coleman) being bisexual. Throughout the course of the series, Steve had relationships with people of both genders. It was a point of contention on the '80s series but with the reboot it's just a fact that everyone is well aware of. Steve is 100 percent open about his sexuality, everyone knows this about him (seeming to use it in their favor), and he is unashamed to even hook up in this week's pilot. This just goes to show how far LGBT characters have come throughout the years and is refreshing to not have the coming out trope for the millionth time. Now Steve can be the moral center of the Carrington family — which says a lot about them — playing down sexual preferences and playing up a love for clean energy (amid the family business of fracking). Side note: In a gender twist, producers made Sammy Joe — who was a female love interest for Steve back then (played by Heather Locklear) — a male love interest for Steve now (played by Rafael de la Fuente).

Full speed ahead.

In a pure analysis on what happens in the pilot of both series, the original is much slower in pace than the reboot. The 1981 pilot was told in three parts, all building up to the wedding of Blake Carrington (played by John Forsythe then and Grant Show now) and Krystle Grant Jennings/Cristal Flores (played by Linda Evans then and Nathalie Kelley now). The plot of the 2017 pilot is largely the same — all except that it takes place in one part. There's a lot of difference between three hours and one hour and this could set the precedent that the new version will move a lot quicker than the old version. In that case, will the new version go much farther than the old version or will it burn out faster? Either way, buckle up!

Treatment of race.

Perhaps the most obvious thing you'll notice about the new Dynasty is just how diverse it is compared to the old Dynasty. The '80s version was quite, well, White. There were few characters of color throughout its entire run while the 21st century version is diverse all around from the beginning. Cristal is played by a Latina actress compared to the blond Krystle of the original — meaning Sammy Joe, the niece/nephew of Krystle/Cristal, is also Latino. The Colby family — the direct competition to the Carringtons — is now a Black family. This injection of diversity is pretty seamless and feels natural, both in the different era and, potentially, the different location (from Denver to Atlanta).

Why do we catfight?

One of the more memorable aspects of the original Dynasty were the catfights — specifically those between Krystle and Alexis Carrington Colby (played by Joan Collins), who has yet to be introduced into the new Dynasty fold. These took place anywhere from Alexis' studio on the Carrington estate to the lilypond and were real ratings-grabbers back in the day, which is probably why we've already gotten our first in the CW reboot in the pilot. Fallon Carrington (played by Elizabeth Gillies now and Pamela Sue Martin back in the day) took on Cristal right before the wedding — but it was just a taste of the physical blows the women used to get into. Perhaps the most noteworthy difference here, though, is why these women are fighting. The '80s version sees Krystle and Alexis going toe to toe over Blake, which is a little antiquated and reductive of an idea for today. Now, in the first episode, we saw tensions reach a boiling point between Cristal and Fallon over a job, signifying that these two are career-focused and want to get ahead in business as opposed to getting ahead in love. Hopefully, we'll continue to see this continue to be a storyline we explore and that men can be a part of these women's lives but that they have other important things to fight over.

Technology changes everything.

This last one is pretty obvious, but there is a massive amount of development in terms of the technology available to the Dynasty characters now versus then. We can only imagine that Fallon and Steve will help push the envelope as the younger characters and that we'll see them on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat — after all, they are of that generation. That's not really explored in the pilot, but we do see mobile phones playing a big part in the 2017 version when Blake finds out Cristal had met Matthew Blaisdel (Nick Wechsler) thanks to a photo in a text message. Blake, with smartphones not having been invented back then, would have had a harder time finding that out about  Krystle's affair in the '80s version. Maybe some of the aforementioned catfights will unfold online, either on social media or on gossip sites? Also, Anders (played by Alan Dale) the butler sure did run a background check on Blake's new honey quickly, didn't he?

Cover image via Dynasty on The CW / Facebook


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