The new Max series Deane’s Dynasty is a look at the glitzy life of Matthew and Lydia Deane, a celebrity power couple in Thailand who have been together for nearly two decades. Despite their well-appointed life and outspoken group of friends, the Deane’s prove a little dull in their everyday life, milking bland scenarios for drama where there isn’t really any to be had. Though the show might be a treat for fans of the couple, there’s no originality or hook to draw in a wider audience.
DEANE’S DYNASTY: STREAM IT OR SKIP IT?
Opening Shot: As aerial shots of Bangkok, Thailand flash on the screen, we meet Lydia and Matthew Deane. Lydia explains that she and husband Matthew have been together for seventeen years, married for seven, “but it feels like a hundred.”
The Gist: Lydia Deane is an actress and singer who has been working for decades in the entertainment industry. She and husband Matthew, who is also a singer and actor, have two kids, but Matthew, an only child, explains that he would love to have more. This is the first of many arguments the couple has throughout the series, and in the first episode, Lydia tries to convince Matthew to get a vasectomy, despite the fact that he thinks they’re not done having babies.
This “drama” between the leads of the show feels incredibly manufactured. When Matthew meets with a friend who had a vasectomy, he seems blown away when his friend tells him that men can still ejaculate after having the procedure. (He thinks your penis just “whistles” out a puff of air – a truly hilarious visual, but so very incorrect.) Matt explains that, in all honesty, he just doesn’t want to get the procedure, and that would be fine if he explained that to Lydia and they eventually resolved the issue like adults, but they do not, and ultimately Lydia offers an ultimatum: she won’t have sex with him until he gets snipped. For the duration of the episode, there’s a very scripted feeling to everything anyone says, like when Matt huffs, “Keep my balls out of your Goddamn mouth!” during a confessional, or jokes in the second episode that Lydia might fire him as her husband if he’s not careful, and this ultimatum feels like a contrivance that exists purely for our benefit.
The show also focuses on the lives of two of Lydia’s close friends, Aerin, who is not quite engaged to her boyfriend Ben (a clairvoyant told Ben not to marry Aerin, so rather than getting engaged and planting any seeds of doubt that they’re not right for each other, Aerin has decided they’ll just get married as soon as possible), and Ploy, a soap opera actress who is known for dating high profile men but is now with a woman. Though Aerin is in a supporting role, her personality and relationship are far more interesting than anything the Deane’s are up to.
What Shows Will It Remind You Of? Given their celebrity status, luxe lifestyle, and the fact that they’re fairly unfiltered, the Deanes certainly seem to want to keep up with the Kardashians, though the show also revolves around Lydia’s circle of famous actress friends, too, which feels like the show is The Kardashians combined with the Real Housewives franchise. Bling Empire also comes to mind.
Our Take: Lydia is an established R&B singer in Thailand, and the show serves essentially as a platform to launch her comeback after taking time off for kids and COVID, but I think she would have been better served if this show was strictly about her career and not so much about her personal life. Her conflicts with Matt feel phony (and everything Matt says comes off as scripted, which only makes their drama feel more fake), and it’s far more interesting to see this 35-year-old woman try to establish herself as a mature singer after success as a teen, especially from a technical standpoint: she fears that contracting COVID in 2020 may have affected her voice, and is shown working hard to rehearse and retrain her voice for live performances.
Of course, watching someone sing their scales also isn’t a very sustainable show to make either, so it makes sense that Deane’s Dynasty takes a holistic look at Lydia’s personal and professional lives, it’s just that the Deanes are kind of… boring. Sure, Lydia can be demanding and domineering (in episode two, she explains coldly that she fired her own brother after he missed a meeting with her in order to take his wife to the doctor), and sure, Matt’s need to keep procreating feels like a desperate attempt to declare his masculinity, but I also don’t really buy the fact that that’s who they really are, it all feels like characters they created to seem more interesting. Reality TV only works if, even in it’s most over-the-top moments you can suspend your disbelief and convince yourself that you’re watching someone’s real life. In this case, it’s not working.
Sex and Skin: Nothing yet, but in the “coming up this season” tease, someone does get their butt shaved. Something to look forward to?
Parting Shot: “It’s vasectomy, or no sex,” Lydia tells Matthew, issuing the ultimatum that she won’t have sex with him until he has the surgery she wants him to get. And then, in a split screen, husband and wife both say in unison, “I’m not backing down on this.” The episode ends on this cliffhanger – will Matthew get a vasectomy or not? – and I can’t believe this topic is being milked (ew) for more than one episode.
Performance Worth Watching: Lydia’s feisty friend Aerin, also an actress, is the fun, unpredictable one. She’s down to discuss anything, from freezing her eggs to her recent boob job, no subject is off limits.
Memorable Dialogue: “I can’t just be a mother. I am a singer. It’s what I do,” Lydia says in a confessional. While Matt tries to persuade her to keep having babies, she is definitely ready to jumpstart her career again now that their kids are getting bigger, and this is a sticking point for her.
Our Call: SKIP IT. A reality show about celebrities needs to rely on real-seeming drama or captivating personalities, and this one has neither.
Liz Kocan is a pop culture writer living in Massachusetts. Her biggest claim to fame is the time she won on the game show Chain Reaction.