If you look up “guilty pleasure” in the dictionary, you’re likely to find a picture of Kim Cattrall glamorously burning a Southern mansion to the ground, then walking away ever so slowly while whispering, “Rot in hell.”
Coincidentally, that’s also how we meet her character in Monday’s premiere of the new Fox drama Filthy Rich. The woman formerly known as Samantha Jones has been born again as Margaret Monreaux, a millionaire televangelist with a genuinely good heart — and a bit of a forked tongue. Case in point: When she discovers that her late husband fathered a trio of children with three different women, she declares, “I’ve dealt with a lot of bastards to get where I am. These three will be no different.” (Funny, we’re not familiar with that Bible verse.)
Speaking of Margaret’s unholy empire, the premiere also introduces us to her staff, including superstar preacher Paul Luke Thomas (played by Aaron Lazar). Filthy Rich executive producer Tate Taylor promises TVLine that Lazar’s uncanny resemblance to real-life TV minister Joel Osteen is “purely coincidental.” That said, Taylor recalls, “When he auditioned, I went, ‘Are you kidding me right now?’ The good Lord was sending us gifts from heaven.”
Generally speaking, Taylor says, “The show is not pro-Christian, and it’s not anti-Christian. It’s pro-whatever is good for you. I grew up in the Deep South with my grandparents in South Carolina. Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker were on TV all the time. It’s part of our fabric down here, so I just wrote what I knew.”
Things get even more complicated for Margaret when those so-called bastards — Ginger, the owner of an adult webcam service; Antonio, a single father and aspiring boxer; and Jason, a Colorado weed farmer — finally arrive. Partially because there’s way too much sexual tension between them and Margaret’s other children, a subtle theme that quickly becomes too much to overlook.
“I filmed it with all degrees of suggestion so I would have a few options,” Taylor admits of the premiere’s slightly incestuous moments, from Ginger’s suggestive comment in the boardroom to Jason and Rose’s unnerving kiss. “It’s kind of fun when Rose is having that wine and flirting with him. It’s almost cringeworthy, but hopefully it’s more cute. When we showed that scene to the first audience, they were like, ‘Oooh, s–t!'”
Margaret’s first instinct is to buy the trio’s silence, but Ginger — whose mother was romantically involved with Margaret’s husband Eugene for a full year — can tell that she and her new half-siblings are being shortchanged. So she decides to go public via a press conference, only to be thwarted by Margaret, who gets ahead of the story by personally introducing her new family members to the world.
Then comes the biggest twist of all: In the final moments of the episode, we learn that Eugene survived his plane crash. Taylor won’t reveal what Eugene’s future holds, but he does remind TVLine that “this show is about faith and lack thereof, and about finding your peace. It can be tumultuous. We’re going to see that his journey is going to be all over the place, because we’re human and we continue to make mistakes and follow poor instincts. It’s a triumphant journey, but it’s not without its huge mess-ups. And surprises.”
Also worth discussing…
* Potential familial connection aside, was Jason and Rose’s kiss one of the most uncomfortable lip locks you’ve seen on TV? Maybe ever?
* Speaking of Jason, he’s clearly not the real deal, since we saw him collect a spit sample from another guy in a hospital bed, which makes us feel a little better about his kiss with Rose. But only a little. The question now is… Who’s Eugene’s real son? And does he also have abs?
* Isn’t Margaret’s son Eric just the absolute worst? I’m already hoping it’s him in that big burning house.
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