Fox’s Anti-Christian Drama Ends as It Began: ‘Offending Viewers of Faith en Masse’

December 2nd, 2020 2:36 AM

After a 10 episode run, Fox’s Filthy Rich is finally over. The show was canceled late last month due to low ratings. It seems viewers weren’t too keen on the offensive portrayal of Christians, week after week, centered around one televangelist family, the Monreauxs, with Margaret (Kim Cattrall) the matriarch running the show.

Minutes into the first episode, the philandering patriarch, Eugene Monreaux (Gerald McRaney), is believed to be dead following a plane crash. Eugene has not only fathered two children with Margaret, but three others each with a different woman, as she comes to find out. He’s also very much alive, unbeknownst to the family, with viewers believing this brush with death means he’ll make amends.

As tiring as the drama quickly became, it was all leading up to the finale, the November 30 episode “1 Corinthians 3:13.”

When Margaret asks upon their reunion, “Where the hell have you been?” Eugene claims, “God sent me on a spiritual quest, a crooked path that led me home.”

Once the major players are all in the same room, Eugene’s true colors are revealed. He is still the same, illustrated in part by fathering his daughter-in-law’s child:

Margaret: Was any of it ever love?

Eugene: Of course, it was. You were my jewel, but we... We were a love built on blood and treasure. 

Margaret: If you don't want our business, then why are you here? 

Eugene: I made amends to my sons. I opened Eric's eyes, and I saved him from a life of corruption. I saved Antonio's son from the clutches of a madman. I breathed life into Jason. But I have failed my girls. Now, I wanted to walk Rose down the aisle, but I'm too late. I tried to make a new life for Ginger, a life she thought she wanted, but she is more like you than either of you are willing to admit. And I realized there was only one thing that would satisfy her, my ownership stake in Monreaux Unlimited. 

Ginger: No, I didn't ask him, Margaret. I swear. 

Eugene: But it is what you wanted, darling, more than anything. And so now you will have to seek salvation on your own. It's your turn to be tested by God. 

Margaret: You're insane. 

Eugene: No, I am clear. God saved me so that I may do right by all six of my children. 

Margaret: Six? 

Ginger: Six? 

Becky: Eugene? You came back for us. 

Margaret: I was just a child.

Eugene: My child has led me home. 

Margaret: You are a monster. 

Eugene: No. I am just a humble sinner, a humble sinner born again.

Once Eugene leaves with his daughter-in-law, Becky (Olivia Macklin), and their infant daughter, Margaret orders everyone out and burns down the home rather than let Eugene return. The series ends, then, right where it began, with the Monreaux mansion on fire.

Eugene is not the only wicked man, far from it. A major theme is how terrible men who present themselves as good, Christian men really are. There are the "uncles" who want to stake their claim on the Monreaux’s Sunshine Network. At least one of them, who is running for governor, is a customer of pornographic websites run by Ginger. Margaret's son Eric also uses the site, and falls in love with one of the performers despite being married to Becky. In reality, Becky has also had a sexual relationship with Ginger, in addition to conceiving a child with Eugene. The child Eric thought he fathered, as Becky’s husband, is actually his baby sister.

What was creator Tate Taylor trying to get at here with this mess of morally abhorrent characters? It was “the real version” of the South, which “for all of its flaws, is complex, multidimensional and often contradictory,” as reported in a piece featuring Taylor. It’s fitting, then, that the last lines of the series would be “You let the old south burn” and “So something new can rise.” 

Yet the show was actually supposed to not be offensive:

While there’s a delicate balance to strike there, there’s universal confidence from the cast that the show manages to find it, exploring themes of greed and corruption in a religious context but without offending viewers of faith en masse.

“I don’t want to make fun of the South. I don’t want to make fun of faith,” said co-star Steve Harris, a Chicago native who was raised in both the Baptist and Catholic traditions. “That’s not what (the show is) about. You can actually delve into it, and the people who are really involved can laugh with you as opposed to having them think you’re laughing at them or think we’re making some sort of mockery of it.”

The show’s creators certainly missed the mark on not “offending viewers of faith en masse.” We’re glad it’s finally over.

The program had many repeat offender sponsors through the series. Ads this episode included L’Oreal with two ads;  Downy; Colgate with two ads; Kohl’s; Old Navy; Verizon with two ads; Discover, Pampers; Starbucks; and Humira.