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Fox's Filthy Rich is the kind of big, silly primetime soap that TV needs right now

  • There’s nothing especially original about this setup to the Kim Cattrall-led drama about a mega-rich Southern family who made their money with a Christian television network, says Judy Berman. "Filthy Rich was, in fact, adapted from a 2016 New Zealand series of the same name," she says. "It also shares a subject—a big, rich, competitive, hypocritical televangelist dynasty—with Danny McBride’s recent HBO comedy The Righteous Gemstones, though the two shows have very different tones. And its central dynamic, which places Cattrall’s wealthy, manipulative, beautifully preserved mama bear in eternal conflict with Kreiling’s sexy, scrappy young upstart, comes straight out of the Soap Opera 101 textbook. But unlike Gemstones, which too often feels stuck in the Moral Majority ’80s, the show evokes a contemporary evangelical landscape riven by right-wing extremism, whose relatively moderate, well-established leaders are at least superficially concerned with inclusion. The Monreauxes’ trusted lawyer Franklin (Friday Night Lights and The Practice vet Steve Harris) and Sunshine’s stalwart director Norah (Deneen Tyler of American Crime) are Black. Margaret tries to put a happy face on her husband’s infidelity by citing Antonio, condescendingly, as an example of 'the healing power of a blended family.' There’s even something like substance at the core of her struggle with Ginger, whose livelihood—along with her mere existence—is a constant reminder of Eugene’s adultery."


    • Filthy Rich wastes Kim Cattrall and its overly dramatic plot twists can be easily spotted a mile away: "Filthy Rich is the first project from Ma and The Girl On The Train director Tate Taylor, who previously explored aspects of his native South as the director and writer of The Help (he grew up with Help author Kathryn Stockett)," says Gwen Ihnat. "With Filthy Rich, he may have been trying to translate the New Zealand source material into a Southern gothic soap opera in the Tennessee Williams vein, but he actually wound up revisiting some of The Help’s worst tendencies. The few people of color in Filthy Rich are cast as, yes, the help, with two-time Emmy-nominee Steve Harris as Margaret’s right-hand man, and Daneen Taylor as a Sunshine Network director. Even Antonio quickly gets hired as part of Margaret’s security detail. Cattrall, though, tries to rise above it all. The Scruples alum has clearly studied her Joan Collins (and probably her Geraldine Page), ably filling the center of the series as a woman who appears to be a caring maternal type, but is also coldly calculating and duplicitous. It’s unfortunate that Cattrall isn’t given better material to work with; despite her frequently faltering drawl, she’s committed to pushing this sudsy drama over the top."
    • This hour of frivolous escapism feels positively heavenly: "It’s a sublime moment of camp and a wonderful showcase for Cattrall, who has a grand old time as Filthy Rich’s head Bible-thumper in charge," says Kristen Baldwin. "Her Margaret is a jewelry-draped diva with velvet-glove charm that disguises an iron will and a stormy temper. In her lowest moment, sneaking a cigarette after learning of Euguene’s multiple indiscretions, Margaret still has the good sense to wear a rubber dishwashing glove over her impeccably manicured hand."
    • Kim Cattrall is never really given the opportunity to dig in: "As Margaret Monreaux, the matriarch of a wealthy televangelist family in the American South, Cattrall plays both an iffy Louisiana accent and a sustained note of smooth, assured competence," says Daniel D'Addario. "Despite all manner of family difficulties, Margaret remains both on top of the situation and unruffled to a degree that cuts off all we know Cattrall can do. Like Scarlett O’Hara, Margaret seems possessed of the belief that she’ll never go hungry again, but what a viewer really craves from a show called Filthy Rich is to see its leading lady chow down on the scenery."
    • Showrunner Tate Taylor says Aaron Lazar's superstar preacher Paul Luke Thomas character's resemblance to real-life TV minister Joel Osteen is “purely coincidental": However, Taylor recalls: “When he auditioned, I went, ‘Are you kidding me right now?’ The good Lord was sending us gifts from heaven.”
    • Cattrall says she turned to Sex and the City costume designer Patricia Field for Filthy Rich inspiration: "I called a dear friend of mine, Pat Field, and she said to me something that was really helpful, which was, 'You're not making a documentary,'" Cattrall tells EW. "Because I kept looking at these specific evangelical women. And she said, 'This (show) is heightened, and this character can bear it.'"
    • Cattrall also prepared for Filthy Rich by reading three Margaret Thatcher biographies: “There was something about her leadership and always wanting to do the right thing and working so hard and being earnest that I felt was helpful,” Cattrall tells the Los Angeles Times of the late British prime minister. It was equally important for her to master her character’s Louisiana drawl. “Actors, when they usually do a Southern accent, it’s kind of all over the map,” says Cattrall. “But this is a very specific Louisiana sound. I really wanted that to be real and work for the show and work for the character.”

    TOPICS: Filthy Rich, FOX, Kim Cattrall, Tate Taylor