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A Silly Fox Soap Starring Susan Sarandon – The Hollywood Reporter

It’s more a public service than a spoiler to reveal that no matter how Fox is promoting the show, polarizing Oscar winner Susan Sarandon is truly not the primary star of the new musical soap opera Monarch.

Armed with this knowledge, everybody comes out ahead. Sarandon haters can tune into Monarch without fear of an excess of Susan Sarandon; Sarandon fans, the real winners here, can safely skip Monarch entirely.


The Bottom Line

Consistently off-key.

Airdate: Special Fox premiere Sunday, September 11, post-football. Tuesdays at 9 p.m. starting September 20.
Cast: Susan Sarandon, Trace Adkins, Beth Ditto, Anna Friel, Joshua Sasse, Martha Higareda, Emma Milani
Creator: Melissa London Hilfers

Although it obviously and rather desperately wants to be Empire only with country music, Monarch is actually just protracted mediocre karaoke. Any karaoke aficionado can tell you that mediocre karaoke is the worst karaoke of all. Bad karaoke is drunken, trashy fun. Great karaoke is entertaining and musical. Mediocre karaoke? It’s that movie with Gwyneth Paltrow and Huey Lewis. (Duets. It’s called Duets.) And Monarch wishes it was even that good.

Sarandon and Trace Adkins play Dottie and Albie Roman, the first couple of country music. With her health problems splashed across magazine covers, Dottie has begun to worry about her legacy, which I know because at least a quarter of the dialogue in the Melissa London Hilfers-scripted pilot is Dottie referring to her legacy.

Dottie and Albie’s three kids are the potential caretakers of that legacy, but all three have been pushed to the background or marginalized over the years because of Dottie’s voracious appetite for the spotlight. There’s Nicky (Anna Friel), who has always desperately craved stardom, but she’s all too aware that given that she’s in her 40s, her moment may have passed. There’s Gigi (Beth Ditto), whose weight and sexuality never lived up to her mother’s ideals, so she never pursued a career in music despite obvious talent. And finally there’s Luke (Joshua Sasse), whose business-focused approach to Monarch, the family’s record label, has caused him to butt heads with the distinctly anti-pinhead Albie.

In addition to her medical condition (revealed in the first 10 minutes of the pilot, so this is not a spoiler either), Dottie is harboring some big secrets, which may be related to the flash-forward segments that bookend every episode — scenes featuring a glowering Albie with a shotgun and the plastic-wrapped body of an unidentified person. Otherwise, the drama in Monarch is by-the-numbers soap stuff. Gigi and Nicky begin feuding stupidly about which of them will take over the aforementioned family legacy. Nicky’s got a philandering British hubby (Adam Croasdell, awful but mostly because of the writing), so she…

Read More: A Silly Fox Soap Starring Susan Sarandon – The Hollywood Reporter

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