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How The CW's Dynasty Reboot Pays Homage to the Original While Joining the 21st Century

The cast weighs in on how Dynasty walks the line

Sadie Gennis

The CW's reboot of Dynasty isn't sticking strictly to the guidelines set by the original '80s phenomenon, but that doesn't mean fans of the Joan Collins and Linda Evans classic primetime soap won't find things they recognize (although how many CW viewers also watched the original Dynasty remains to be seen).

The series takes the foundation of Dynasty -- wealthy patriarch Blake marries younger woman Krystle (rechristened "Cristal" in the reboot), who clashes with his daughter Fallon -- and modernizes it, much like how the CW updated Melrose Place and 90210a few years back, while still paying careful homage to the original series. "We've contemporized it but we've also maintained the integrity of the original, so it's very important to us," Elizabeth Gillies, who plays Fallon Carrington, tells TV Guide. "I think we're nailing it."

One of the main ways the CW has brought Dynasty into 2017 is by by transforming the show into a diverse ensemble -- something the original was sorely lacking despite featuring one of the first out gay characters on TV with Steven Carrington. In the updated version, Steven (James Mackay) gets a serious male love interest in Sammy Jo (a role originally played by Heather Locklear, but is now played by Rafael de La Fuente). The show also cast black actor Sam Adegoke in the role of previously white character Jeff Colby and turned Cristal from Blake's white secretary into an ambitious Latina businesswoman who "hustled her way out of [Venezuela]," star Nathalie Kelley explains.

Dynasty Boss Talks Undoing the Homophobic Legacy of the Original Series

"We still wanted her to be the moral compass of the show, to really lead with her heart and to be sweet and kind and warm," says Kelley. "But in the modern version, she's a modern woman and modern women are nuanced and have secrets and in Cristal's case she has a lot."

Elizabeth Gillies and Nathalie Kelley, Dynasty
Mark Hill/THE CW

But while the CW's Dynasty has pushed these characters into the modern era, they still haven't forgotten their roots, filling the show with as much over-the-top drama, torrid affairs and catfights as you can imagine.

"The fights were such a big part of the original show and we know that people are tuning in to see them," says Kelley, whose character Cristal gets into an epic catfight with Fallon in the season premiere. "A challenge every episode is, how can we make this explosive dynamic between these two women interesting every episode? And so I will say that from what I've read so far, the fights are very creative."

Watch The Trailer for The CW's Dynasty

"However, our fights are grounded in the scene," adds Gillies. "So whenever we -- not that violence is ever the answer -- but whenever I go to attack Cristal or she is [attacking me], it comes from a real place."

Although the fights will be just as big in the CW's reboot, what the characters fight about will be a bit different. For example, Steven Carrington won't be defined by the issues his sexuality caused between his family, but by his strong belief in green energy -- a liberal stance which goes against his father's fracking business. "[The original Dynasty] was such a long time ago, the issues that America has are different than they were back then," says Grant Show, who plays Blake. "So I don't think we have to worry about imitating them, but we can still confront issues in the same way that they did."

In fact, Show already has a pitch for how the CW's Dynasty can do just that. "Blake has a half-sister that shows up," he explains. "In the original she was black and that was a real problem for Blake and his family. I'd like to see her show up somehow. I don't think black-white would really be all that shocking, but there must be some other way that he could have a half-sibling that shows up and really floors him."

Meanwhile, Kelley and Gillies are hoping that beyond just including characters from the original series, the new Dynasty will see the actual stars appear. "Well, I'm biased towards Linda Evans in terms of a cameo on the show," Kelley admits. "But I think we're all hoping that Joan Collins wants to grace us with her presence."

Dynasty premieres Wednesday at 9/8c on the CW.

(Full disclosure: TV Guide is owned by CBS, one of the CW's parent companies.)