What a week! Wildfires, hurricanes, death, destruction, economic collapse, and a never-ending pandemic. You've been through a lot there, pardner. Take an evening for yourself and watch a good ol' prime-time soap from the birthplace of passable entertainment, broadcast television. Ladies, gentlemen, survivors of 2020... you've earned a guilt-free viewing of the in-one-ear-out-the-other satirical drama Filthy Rich, debuting Monday on Fox after being delayed from spring because the world sucks. I watched three episodes and I didn't even hate it.
Filthy Rich is, to use the backhanded compliment du jour for these times, the "perfect escapist series to help you forget about the world," and it's so low stress, it requires only percentage points of your brain to enjoy. It's a Southern soap in the vein of Dirty Sexy Money, GCB, and Almost Family, following the family behind a New Orleans-based multi-billion-dollar Christian television network that's Oprah for bored, mostly white, Christian housewives. But the spicy stuff comes quickly when the patriarch, Eugene Monreaux (Gerald McRaney), is killed in a private jet crash with two floozies-for-hire onboard, leaving the family to deal with the ensuing crisis that follows when it's discovered he had three illegitimate children, who are now adults.
Kim Cattrall slinks about as Margaret (properly pronounced "marg-uh-ret" and not the city slickin' "marg-ret" way) Monreaux, and of course we first meet her as she's walking out of a burning Southern mansion in a red sequin dress while wearing a fur saying "rot in hell" to some unknown character trapped inside. It's an in media res that gives us a point of reference to the season finale, if the show gets that far, while we see how Margaret came to arson and maybe murder (?) from a storyline that begins four months earlier, when things were going great for Eugene and Margaret. That's what kind of show this is.
Margaret's family and associates include her "I'm not like them" daughter Rose (Aubrey Dollar), corporate douche son Eric (Corey Cott), family attorney Franklin (Steve Harris), snooty daughter-in-law Becky (Olivia Macklin), and the scene-stealing reverend Paul Luke Thomas (Aaron Lazar), who all find their roles upended by Eugene's death and the trio of new siblings from wedlock. Having not been in the orbit of their preaching father, the li'l bastards have grown up very unchristian; Ginger Sweet (Melia Kreiling) runs a fetish camgirl site out of Vegas, Antonio Rivera (Benjamin Levy Aguilar) is an MMA fighter and single father, and Jason (Mark L. Young) grows sticky-icky dope in Colorado. It's worth noting that Antonio and Jason are introduced shirtless, and we meet Ginger as she's doing the rounds at her video suite, watching scantily clad women dressed as milkmaids pouring milk down their cleavage for horny dudes online. That's what kind of show this is.
It's a ton of people to get to know right away, but Filthy Rich puts them in the right places immediately as Margaret tries to buy their silence, and Ginger, the entrepreneur, sniffs out a way to get more money and raise some brand awareness for her sinful site, leading to soapish sneers and squints between the two ladies, which serves as the series' main showdown. From there it's twists (both obvious and not-so-obvious), turns, some incest that might not be incest, people rising from the dead because obviously they're not dead, scripture quotes, scripture quotes as names for perfume, a Juliette Lewis cameo, baptisms to "Eye of the Tiger," and wet T-shirts. That's what kind of show this is.
And trust me, Filthy Rich -- one of the few "new" shows we'll be getting this fall because of coronavirus delays — is well aware of all that titillation. There's no pretense from creator Tate Taylor that this is much more than messy in-fighting in a dysfunctional family with power up for grabs, and it's all the better for it. The goal for the show is an admirable "hopefully three seasons," and it moves at a pace in which it might run out of stories and secrets by December.
But there is some wonderful social commentary in its satire, notably of the hypocrisy of Christians and Christian TV evangelists, who milk their flock to fund their private jets and luxurious lifestyles while living a life that goes against the good book. It's a show in which every character has secrets, and the characters who present themselves as the most pious are the filthiest. Hmm, on second thought, maybe this will remind you of the current filthy state of the world.
TV Guide rating: 2.5/5
Filthy Rich premieres Monday, Sept. 21 at 9/8c on Fox.