Television’s latest series remake comes courtesy of The CW. Dynasty is a contemporary reimagining of the '80s soap opera infused with diversity and themes of social justice. The 2017 version — which still follows the rich people problems of the Carrington family and their energy empire — includes queer relationships and way more people of colour. And as of the first episode at least, it has even excluded a problematic trope from the show’s narrative: that of the gold digger.
At the head of the Carrington family is patriarch Blake (Grant Show). His wife left when his children were younger. But they’re all grown up now, and his daughter Fallon (Elizabeth Gillies) is trying to one-up her father by becoming his competition. Meanwhile, his son Steven (James Mackay), a gay, bleeding heart liberal, wants nothing to do with the family business because he’s more interested in doing good for the world. There a host of other, less-wealthy characters who are sleeping with the three millionaires. But as it stands, if any of them have ill intentions towards the Carringtons, they aren’t financially motivated.
Cristal Flores (Nathalie Kelley) is engaged to Blake (they marry at the end of the pilot). She was head of PR at his company before being promoted to COO. This has created some serious tension between her and Fallon, who wanted the position for herself. Fallon’s issues with Cristal also stem from her own mommy issues and not wanting to see another woman try to step into that role. Cristal’s nephew Sammy Jo (Rafael de la Fuente) slept with Steven without knowing who he was or how much he was worth. He stole money out of Steven’s pocket because he was in a “tight spot” and took advantage of the opportunity presented to him, not as part of some master plan to embezzle funds.
By keeping the scheming women and femmes at bay, Dynasty has unintentionally gone even further with it’s new progressive angle. Gold diggers are almost always portrayed as conniving women who use their sexuality to get in good with wealthy men for financial gains. It’s an outdated trope that suggests that women fall outside the parameters of respectability when they seek financial stability and social mobility in their relationships. This is contradictory because marriage is simultaneously championed to women as a guarantor of those things. It also ignores the contributions of women as full human beings, capable of anything other than being eye candy and reaping the benefits of being beautiful. We are moving way past that.
Furthermore, the gold digger trope implies that wealthy people are always innocent targets, preyed upon by working and middle class people. This is what Kelley implied when she told R29 that her character is simply making decisions that anyone would have made in her position. I get a twisted sense of satisfaction from the fact that the closest thing Dynasty has to a gold digger so far is ironically Fallon. She is already wealthy by inheritance and her own role in the family business. Nevertheless, she is willing to cross her own dad for infamy and money. I can’t wait to see how this turns out. I love rich people problems.