Kim Cattrall and Tate Taylor on bringing shock, awe, and sex to religion in Filthy Rich
Shock. Awe. Delicious. Guilty.
Is this the latest hot food trend? No, it's how Tate Taylor (The Help, Ma) describes Filthy Rich, his new TV show that opens with the delectable sight of a vengeful Kim Cattrall striding from a burning house.
Premiering Sept. 21 on Fox, the soapy drama stars Cattrall as the matriarch of a family of Southern televangelists whose lives and faith are tested by the discovery of three illegitimate children. As seen in the exclusive clip below, things get complicated when it's revealed that their father's regret-fueled "drinky-poo will" was in place when he died in a sudden accident, forcing the family to share their excessive wealth with these previously unknown interlopers.
Though Filthy Rich is based on a New Zealand series of the same name, the title is about all they share. "I was really looking at how fractured we all were and wondering where we might all end up as a nation," Taylor says of his idea for the show. "When I create stories, I try to find the most interesting ways to have conflict first, like, 'What could be a fun, crazy way to have conflict?' And what better way than politics, sex, and religion?"
For Taylor, it was a chance to explore religion from a new angle, one that respects faith but pokes fun at hypocrisy. "Christianity has been hijacked, like many religions have been," he says. "They've been hijacked by extremists, which are often evangelical groups or very conservative, white, right-wing groups. I know lots of extremely moderate and very cool Christian men and women, who get it. This is their personal faith. They don't judge. They don't seem to have a voice out there."
While the show depicts a devoutly Christian family, Taylor stresses that it has something for everyone. "This is a workplace family drama," he says. "If people think they're coming to see a show about faith on a televangelism network, it's really not. It's not so much about religion as it is about this family dealing with everything that's coming at them."
That had major appeal for Cattrall, who stars as Margaret, a Southern belle with a dash of Tennessee Williams vulnerability. "This is a different take on religion as a business," she says. "It's the family business. They've grown it together from nothing. It's unveiling that, and not pointing a finger, but maybe poking a little bit."
Margaret is everything Cattrall looks for in a role: a woman who's complex, intelligent, and knows how to play the game. A grande dame of the (television) stage cut from the same cloth as Margo Channing who wields the weapons of simpering manipulation like Scarlett O'Hara. All with a hint of the prestige TV antihero for good measure. In short, it's the kind of role Cattrall feels like she's watched men play on television for years.
"It doesn't matter what age she is and her economic background," she says. "What makes her tick? How does that feel? And is that a new, fresh way to show something else about the feminine?
"She's the white Oprah of her world, and she's bigger than life," Cattrall adds. "I don't want to show up for a polemic, but I definitely want to show up to be entertained and enlightened about what it is to be a woman right now."
For Taylor, Margaret and her personal journey are a reflection of many of the Southern Christian women he knows in his own life. "They are having to evolve, to change with the times," he says. "The world changes, and you have to either adapt or become, as I say, a hater and dig into your mindset. It's fun to watch when people of all religions have to change and look what's in front of them."
Filthy Rich has had a circuitous journey to the small screen, with its initial production date bumped to accommodate Taylor's shooting schedule and its original premiere date moved from a spring 2020 release to its new slot. But in some ways, it's set them up to make a bigger splash than would normally be expected for a network show in our increasingly splintered viewing landscape. Because now it's one of a privileged few new fall network titles, thanks to coronavirus production shutdowns.
When it comes to that kind of kismet, Taylor chalks it up to a higher power. "I would just say this is the Lord's work," he says. Amen to that.
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