My Facebook memories keep reminding me that this is the time of year I would be writing my column revealing my choices for the top five best new fall shows. It’s my very favorite column of the year.
But this is 2020 and everything is different. Just ask FOX, which will kick off its fall season with a show originally scheduled to debut in the Spring, but wisely held to provide the network new material until production could ramp up again. FOX labels “Filthy Rich” as a Southern Gothic family drama, which is just a fancy way to say soap opera. And since I love a juicy primetime soap, I had some hope for the show. But “Filthy” doesn’t quite squeeze out enough juice for me and its tired central premise straight out of the 1980s could end up alienating a large group of TV viewers.
Gerald McRaney and Kim Cattrall star as Eugene and Margaret Monreaux, the creators of a successful Christian TV network empire. Margaret is the face of the network, which also features their children, Eric (Corey Cott) and Rose (Aubrey Dollar); Eric’s wife, Becky (Olivia Macklin); and Becky’s dad, the charismatic Reverend Paul Luke Thomas (Aaron Lazar). Just after the network launches its new shopping club, Eugene dies in a plane crash, and his family discovers he fathered three other children and wrote them in his will. Margaret must find a way to deal with these three new threats to her empire, as well as the rising ambitions of her son and daughter-in-law, while trying to maintain her wholesome image.
Full disclosure, I am not really a fan of Cattrall — especially with a Southern accent — but she’s well cast here. The real gem is Melia Kreiling as Ginger Sweet, one of Eugene’s illegitimate children, who immediately challenges Margaret. All three children have interesting secrets, so you’ll find yourself caring way more about them than the core Monreaux family. And even in just a small dose, McRaney is always a welcome sight.
The problem here is that the main premise of the show, which we saw more than once in real life during the 1980s, comes off as stale. Mega TV networks are a thing of the past and having one as the show’s foundation instantly dates it. And using religion in a slimy way always makes me squirm and will no doubt keep some people away from the show entirely.
If Cattrall, who is also a producer, is counting on “Filthy” recharging her career, I think she may want to put her faith in something else.
“Filthy Rich” premiered Monday, Sept. 21, on FOX.