Dynasty

TV review by
Jenny Nixon, Common Sense Media
Dynasty TV Poster Image
Over-the-top soap opera packed with champagne and fighting.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

"Greed is good" may as well be on the family crest.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Let's be real: These people are awful ... but so fun to watch.

Violence

There are fistfights, kidnappings, fights where women wrestle (usually over a man), oil rig explosions, car crashes, terrorist plots -- but the bad special effects and cheesy acting keep the violence from being truly disturbing.

Sex

Expect to see revealing outfits, soft-focus make-out sessions, and implied intercourse (though there is no nudity, and bedspreads or sheets usually cover everything up). The character Steven Carrington was one of the earliest gay main characters on television -- though his sexuality is apparently fluid, as he is shown having relationships with men and women throughout Dynasty's nine-season run.

Language

"Damn," "hell," "bastard," and "bitch" are all used. The patriarch of the family accuses his closeted son of "faggotry."

Consumerism

Designer clothing, expensive champagne, fancy cars, huge jewels -- this show is all about excess!

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Lots and lots of champagne and cocktails in every episode. There's smoking, too: cigars, cigarettes, and joints.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Dynasty is a classic soap opera from the 1980s about two feuding oil baron families in Denver, Colorado. The show has no redeeming moral value and is basically an excuse to watch filthy rich people behaving badly. The dialogue, acting, and plots are beyond cheesy: Over nine seasons there were at least three kidnappings, a half-dozen explosions, various surgeries, a military coup at a wedding, countless divorces and secret children ... even an alien abduction! Content-wise, the sex and violence are tame by today's standards, but still present. Many of the attitudes on display, especially toward issues of gender, sexuality, and race, are as outdated as the flamboyant fashions.

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What's the story?

Dynasty, produced by TV legend Aaron Spelling, is a long-running primetime soap focused on the dazzlingly opulent exploits of Denver's oil tycoons and the women who love them. Power-hungry businessman Blake Carrington (John Forsythe) and his naive new wife, Krystle (Linda Evans), deal with all manner of dramas, from conniving ex-wives (Joan Collins as Alexis Carrington Colby) and former lovers to headstrong daughters and resentful sons. Each episode seems to bring a new tragedy or scandal for the Carringtons, whether it's a business rival plotting a devious scheme or an illegitimate half-sister showing up out of the blue. The show is melodramatic to say the least, with some hilariously implausible storylines, and it was one of the forerunners of the "cliffhanger episode."

Is it any good?

Though not without a certain retro charm, the first season is an oft-painful slog through dull storylines set in oil fields -- but the show finds its footing in season two, with the arrival of Joan Collins as Alexis Carrington Colby, the prototypical soap opera vixen and villainess supreme. The ongoing rivalry between Collins' character and Linda Evans' Krystle became the show's hallmark, and the actresses spent season after season clashing with one another over men, miscarriages, and mansions. Though the two spent plenty of time verbally sparring, their spats had a habit of turning physical as well, with the characters wrestling and slapping one another in beauty salons, muddy puddles, and lily ponds.

Dynasty is a guilty pleasure for sure. It can be amusing to watch these unabashedly selfish characters flounce around in decadent settings, trying to seduce one another or ruin each other's lives (sometimes both). The fashions and hairstyles are simultaneously fabulous and incredibly dated. While not exactly purposefully comedic, the show succeeds because it embraces its campy nature and doesn't take itself too seriously. Probably best suited for older teens who can see the show for what it is: the television equivalent to junk food.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how family members treat each other on Dynasty. Are sons and daughters treated differently by their parents? Could any of the characters on Dynasty be considered good parents? Why or why not?

  • Do you think Dynasty is an accurate representation of what it takes to run a successful business? What would happen if a real-life businessperson were to use some of the tactics pictured on the show?

TV details

For kids who love melodrama

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