Celebrating The 40th Anniversary Of 'Dynasty,' A Trailblazer For Queer Representation Offering scenes of unforgettable camp and introducing one of the first out gay characters to mass audiences, the primetime TV series Dynasty achieved iconic status, especially among LGBTQ+ audiences.

Celebrating The 40th Anniversary Of 'Dynasty,' A Trailblazer For Queer Representation

Celebrating The 40th Anniversary Of 'Dynasty,' A Trailblazer For Queer Representation

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Offering scenes of unforgettable camp and introducing one of the first out gay characters to mass audiences, the primetime TV series Dynasty achieved iconic status, especially among LGBTQ+ audiences.

(SOUNDBITE OF "DYNASTY" THEME SONG)

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

If you were around in the 1980s, this TV theme might stir up some memories - memories of Blake, Krystle, Alexis and the whole Carrington family, the main characters of the TV show "Dynasty," which turns 40 this year. Between introducing one of the first out gay characters to mass audiences and offering up scenes of unforgettable camp, the hit prime-time series quickly became iconic TV, especially among LGBTQ+ audiences. For Pride Month, Chloe Veltman of member station KQED visited the stately home south of San Francisco where the show's earliest episodes were filmed. She was joined by a "Dynasty" superfan. Here's that story.

CHLOE VELTMAN, BYLINE: Pride Month is in full bloom at Filoli mansion, as I stand underneath the canopy of fluttering rainbow flags waiting for the arrival of San Francisco drag royalty.

D'ARCY DROLLINGER: I'm here to check on my house.

VELTMAN: That's performer, club owner and "Dynasty" fan D'Arcy Drollinger. Wearing red patent stilettos and a voluminous black wig, the drag artist is decked out as one of her favorite TV characters, Alexis Carrington Colby.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "DYNASTY")

JOAN COLLINS: (As Alexis Carrington Colby) So take this junk and your blond tramp, and get out of my home.

VELTMAN: The character of archvillainess Alexis Colby, played by Joan Collins in the original series, didn't appear until Season 2. By that time, production had moved from Filoli to a soundstage in Hollywood. But that doesn't stop Drollinger channeling Alexis from acting like she owns the place, as we launch into a "Dynasty"-themed tour after regular visiting hours.

DROLLINGER: Well, they've kept up things quite nicely, actually. But there were some riffraff here earlier. Who are these people in my house?

VELTMAN: Surprisingly, for someone who produced a drag show inspired by "Dynasty," this is Drollinger's first visit to Filoli. She's awed by the estate's opulence...

DROLLINGER: Breathtaking.

VELTMAN: ...And the "Dynasty" connections we hear about from Filoli tour guide Willa Brock, like the massive chandeliered ballroom...

WILLA BROCK: In this room, a pretty pivotal scene happened, which is when Blake and Krystle got married.

VELTMAN: ...The dining room, presided over by an oil painting featuring a dead hare suspended from one of its hind legs...

BROCK: In the first couple episodes, they have a pretty strained family dinner in here.

VELTMAN: ...And the library, with its oak-paneled walls and shelves laden with antique books.

BROCK: In "Dynasty," this was Blake Carrington's office.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "DYNASTY")

JOHN FORSYTHE: (As Blake Carrington) I'm offering you a chance to straighten yourself out.

VELTMAN: Brock tells us, the Filoli library was the site in 1981 of this iconic scene between patriarch Blake Carrington and Steven, his misunderstood son.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "DYNASTY")

JACK COLEMAN: (As Steven Carrington) Straighten myself out - I'm not sure I know what that means.

VELTMAN: Drollinger says this is one of the first appearances of an openly gay central character in a prime-time TV drama. Up to that point, gay characters were either in the closet or played for laughs.

DROLLINGER: Even looking later on, when gay characters were in television shows like "Melrose Place," they didn't have as much character development as Steven did.

VELTMAN: There was a precedent for Steven Carrington. The rival prime-time soap "Dallas" featured a dramatic gay character for two episodes in 1979 - Kit Mainwaring.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "DALLAS")

MARK WHEELER: (As Kit Mainwaring) I'm a homosexual, Bobby.

VELTMAN: But J. Reid Miller, a Haverford College philosophy professor who studies queer representations in culture, says Steven Carrington wasn't just out. He was also integral to the series.

J REID MILLER: And there for the long haul - you can't just get rid of him after a couple episodes. You can't write him out of the storyline because he's part of the family.

VELTMAN: Yet most fans agree Steven Carrington is by no means the gayest thing about "Dynasty."

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "DYNASTY")

COLLINS: (As Alexis Carrington) If the champagne is too burned for your taste, Ms. Deborah (ph), don't drink it.

DROLLINGER: Alexis Carrington is the highest camp on television, the juiciest character and the most drag.

VELTMAN: Drollinger says the 2017 reboot of "Dynasty" didn't come close to matching the original's over-the-top magic. She adds, if Joan Collins ever comes to town, she'd love to buy her a bottle of champagne. She promises it won't be burnt.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE CITY OF PRAGUE PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA'S "DYNASTY")

VELTMAN: For NPR News, I'm Chloe Veltman in San Francisco.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE CITY OF PRAGUE PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA'S "DYNASTY")

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