Pilot Script Review of Filthy Rich
Filthy Rich is not just any pilot for FOX, it’s the first greenlight decision made by new FOX CEO of Entertainment Charlie Collier (previously at AMC). As a big fan of writer and director Tate Taylor’s work, he committed to a pilot order in the room, which isn’t something that happens frequently. FOX originally bought Filthy Rich last development season with a put pilot commitment. It did not go to pilot at that point (and Taylor went on to direct the movie Eve ), but both sides remained high on the project, leading to a pilot order this time around.
Based on a series that originally aired in New Zealand, this is a personal project for actor-turned filmmaker Taylor. The show is set in New Orleans, not far from where he grew up, and Taylor has said he relates to its themes of family, faith and ambition.
WRITTEN BY: Tate Taylor
DRAFT DATE: 1/21/18 (Last revision: 12/1/18)
PAGE COUNT: 60 pages
LOGLINE: When the wealthy CEO of the world’s largest Christian network dies in a plane crash, his wife and adult children are stunned to discover he has grown, illegitimate kids who are also in his will. When the steel azalea matriarch of the family, Margaret Monroe, tries to pay them to go away, these newly legitimized heirs have very different ideas and insist on not only staying in town but becoming part of the family empire.
SCRIPT SYNOPSIS: MARGARET MONROE (Mid 60s) is the host of a popular Christian lifestyle show and the matriarch of a billion dollar family business operated by her husband, EUGENE (60s) and her children, ERIC (32) and ROSE (30). When Eugene unexpectedly dies in a plane crash, his numerous infidelities come to light, along with three illegitimate adult children: GINGER (mid 20s), a fierce woman with business savvy, JASON (mid 20s), an attractive, loyal young man who runs a weed business at a ranch in Colorado, and ANTONIO (19), a tattooed, up-and-coming boxer and single dad. Their introduction into the Monroes’ lives stands to threaten the family’s reputation, as well as their business empire. In an attempt to fix the situation, Margaret makes a power play that upsets her son Eric: she publicly welcomes the three new Monroes into the family business. All family members, new and old, are forced to adjust to this strange, new family dynamic with the whole country watching.
COMMENTS: Fox has described Filthy Rich as a “larger-than-life Southern gothic dramedy,” but let’s be clear: this is first and foremost a big, juicy soap, although it does become a surprisingly emotional family drama by the end of the pilot. That said, I'm not totally convinced the script sells the show very well. There's a lot of exposition, and not much else. As promised, it is “larger-than-life,” which also means it’s totally unrealistic and that all the characters start as clichés, but it becomes more compelling as it goes along.
The pilot is very much centered around Margaret Monroe and Ginger Sweet (those names!) -- strong, sharp women from two different generations who will go to any lengths to protect their loved ones and get their due. While they're the show’s strongest assets, they also steal a good deal of thunder from the other characters. Rose, for example, feels a little bit left out. She’s got some good dialogue and a few fun moments, but she's a bit weak compared to the other women around her. Hopefully her kind-hearted nature will make her more interesting at some point down the road. Likewise, her brother Eric, married with two kids and Senior VP of Operations at the conservative Christian Sunshine Network, doesn't bring much to the table in the pilot. The new siblings are more intriguing, especially Jason, who we learn is not all that he would seem.
With Kim Cattrall as the leading lady, the rest of the cast will have to bring their A-game. Cattrall is a huge presence and her character is in line with strong matriarchs in soaps like Empire‘s Cookie or Dynasty‘s Alexis. It’s a perfect role for her. Margaret made me think of an older and more successful version of Desperate Housewives' Bree Van de Kamp. Obsessed with perfection and appearances, she has a lifestyle show aimed at showing women how to be perfect housewives, but we all know that she just needs a little push before we see her true colors. For now, it's clear that she's a hypocrite -- you never know when she’s sincere, especially when she reacts to the loss of her husband. A power couple like this is sure to have many secrets. By the way, Gerald McRaney who plays Eugene is a series regular even though he dies in the cold open, which means flashbacks are coming our way. Or maybe he’s not really dead -- this is a soap after all, and conveniently his body was never found, supposedly eaten by alligators.
Although the pilot is missing a good cliffhanger, there are plenty of good directions for the series to take, especially when the whole Monroe family teams up. There’s also a political and social flavor to the show, but it’s not really the focus of the pilot and it may never be.
FINAL RECOMMENDATION: With The CW's Dynasty and Fox's Empire both losing steam this year, Filthy Rich may be just what soap fans are looking for. It’s not exactly groundbreaking but its southern setting, its gender politics, its delicious matriarch and its immoral tendencies make it a good candidate to be Fox's next soap sensation.
OVERALL PROJECT SCORE:
[ ] PASS
[ ] CONSIDER
BEST FIT: Either paired with Empire or used as its midseason replacement