When the primetime soap opera Dynasty first launched in the 1980s, Blake Carrington (John Forsythe) was repelled by his gay son Steven — which set up a world of conflict between father and son for several seasons. But in the new iteration for The CW this fall, the new Blake (played by Grant Show) is not only accepting of his son (James Mackay from The Leftovers), but is about to welcome another young gay man into his family via new wife Cristal (Nathalie Kelley): Cristal’s nephew Sammy Joe, deliciously embodied in the original version by Heather Locklear, is now a young gay man played by Rafael de la Fuente (Empire).
“There is no rancor over that issue,” executive producer Josh Schwartz told reporters at the Television Critics Association’s press tour Wednesday in Beverly Hills, Calif. “Even in some of the more conservative pockets of the South, a lot of dynamics have evolved.”
“Steven is out and proud,” added executive producer Sallie Patrick. “It made sense to make Sammy Joe a gay man.”
But while Blake won’t clash with his son over his sexuality, they will butt heads over his career choices in the update, based in Atlanta. “While Blake can’t be homophobic in the same way [the original Blake was], he can have problems with Steven not being the way he can be,” Show said. “This Blake will be very dark but he fiercely loves his family, his dynasty, and his position.”
The producers also made some key changes to the original drama, which focused on two oil-rich families in Denver. The character of Jeff Colby, a white rich man who would go on to marry Blake’s daughter Fallon in the original, will now be depicted as a tech billionaire played by African-American actor Sam Adegoke (Switched at Birth). The new Fallon is played by Elizabeth Gillies (Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll).
“It’s not just that he’s African-American, but he’s new money,” explained Schwartz. “In the old version, the Carringtons were nouveau riche compared to the Colbys. We are flipping that dynamic. Jeff is a tech billionaire who honed what was going to make him a billionaire while he worked for Blake. That’s a point of resentment for Blake. So that allows us a lot more dynamic storytelling. We’re also trying to tell the story of Blake, Atlanta, the Carrington family. There is one foot in that old world boys club, the South. And then Blake is surrounded by this teeming, very modern, diverse exciting city. So we wanted Blake’s journey and Atlanta’s journey to mirror each other.”
The writers even changed the way Cristal, a character who is now from Latin America in this reboot, spells her name: Linda Evans went by Krystle in the old version.
“It’s a more modern version of what is happening in America,” Kelley, the actress who plays her, said. “I’m from Venezuela, which is a bold and intelligent choice [for the character]. To weave that into a narrative is exciting and important, especially given the geopolitics of Venezuela.”
Dynasty debuts at 9 p.m. ET Oct. 11 on The CW.