What They Watch: The TV Diaries of Dynasty Showrunner Sallie Patrick

Get to know the TV history of the mind behind the CW's Dynasty reboot, Sallie Patrick

By Lauren Piester Oct 20, 2017 12:00 PMTags
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Welcome to the official launch of E! News' newest weekly feature, What They Watch, a profile of those working in TV and their TV loves and habits both past and present. 

If you're a lover of primetime soaps, Sallie Patrick is probably a name you should know. 

Patrick served as producer and writer on ABC's Revenge, The CW's Life Unexpected, and CBS' short-lived Limitless (which was admittedly not exactly a soap, but was delightful nonetheless), but she's currently at the helm of The CW's reimagining of classic '80s drama Dynasty, which she developed alongside fellow TV geniuses Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage.

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Given its legendary source material, the show is inherently a major piece of the TV landscape, but Patrick is here to help make sure the series finds its place in 2017. By episode two, it's already pushing women into freshly dug graves, making it perfectly ripe for what Patrick considers to be a pretty good modern day pop culture prize: Becoming a meme. 

As the first subject of What They Watch, Patrick shares a few of her biggest TV influences from Fraggle Rock to Twin Peaks to Broad City and beyond.

Melissa Hebeler / E! Illustration

What was your relationship with TV growing up? What was the first show you remember watching? 
First show: if I'm being honest, probably The Great Space Coaster ("Get on board!"). But I was basically a born TV junkie, who inherited my love of soaps (daytime and primetime) from my grandmother and my love of SNL and genre from my father (The Twilight Zone was a fave). I was a child of the ‘80s who loved reruns from the '70s (All in the Family, Little House on the Prairie, Welcome Back Kotter). If my parents tried to limit my watching, they weren't successful… I was watching Johnny Carson when I was way too young to be awake that late.

What show or network would you say defined your childhood?
I remember very clearly when my dad first subscribed to HBO — Fraggle Rock was a gamechanger. And how fantastic that Shelley Duvall's follow up to The Shining was Faerie Tale Theatre. 

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What would you say is your coming of age show? Why did you connect to it and what TV character did you relate to the most?
Depends on which age we're talking about, but probably Angela Chase from My So Called Life and Audrey Horne from Twin Peaks. Both are outsider girls, coming of age themselves, trying to find out who they are while dealing with the stress of high school (and, in Audrey's case, a murder investigation... but that's nothing compared to high school).

Who is your dream TV BFF? 
I was prepared to answer for BF (Special Agent Dale Cooper), but BFF took some thinking. Can I have all four Golden Girls?

What show were all your friends/peers watching but you feel like you missed out on?
There wasn't much I hadn't seen growing up. More often, I'd be the awkward kid with no one to talk to about last night's Moonlighting or Quantum Leap. When I went off to college, that's when I missed a lot (to this day, I haven't seen an episode of Buffy).

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What show do you pretend to watch but actually never have?
Probably Buffy. I mean, I saw the movie… 

What show do you just really feel like you missed the boat on?
Game of Thrones—it premiered when I was slammed with work and raising two young kids. I've only just now started it. I told people at a party recently that I had only seen three, and they were like, three seasons? I meant three episodes. It was weirdly embarrassing. Like when Charlie Bucket's teacher asks him how many boxes of Wonka Bars he bought: "Two." Two hundred? "No, just two…" 


Which show turned you (or came closest to turning you) into the ultimate fangirl? Did you ever do anything crazy in honor of your favorite show?
Probably Twin Peaks. I may or may not have a mini-shrine in my office… and I've been Laura Palmer in a body bag for more than one Halloween.

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What's an episode of TV you wish you wrote?
Top three: "White Christmas" from Black Mirror, "The Suitcase" from Mad Men, and "Topsy" from Bob's Burgers. My tastes are eclectic, obviously…but all three episodes had a thesis or theme that resonated with me, the kind of television that inspires me to keep writing.

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Who was the first TV couple you shipped? 
Morticia and Gomez.

Has TV affected your taste in music or fashion in any significant way?
I can't imagine my '80s childhood without MTV. Recent shows influencing my taste, musical and otherwise: Atlanta and Broad City have both introduced me to new artists that I love. As for fashion, I dress like a writer...but I love watching for the clothes, especially period fashion (Downton AbbeyMad Men), to see how the designers blend old and new.

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How has TV affected your relationships? Do you have friends or connections with people because of any TV shows?
I used to watch 90210 in middle school while talking to my best friend on the phone (hi, Katharine). Which means we sat on the phone in silence watching the show and talked during commercial breaks. So weird. Do kids still do that? 

In every writers' room I've been in, the first 15-20 minutes of the day are spent discussing water cooler moments from last night's big shows. On Life Unexpected, it was Project Runway; on Revenge, it was Breaking Bad and Mad Men. Right now on Dynasty, it's Battle of the Network Stars and Game of Thrones.

When you choose projects now, do you think about the shows that have come before?
Sure, though trying to predict what will succeed (and what won't) is pointless. It used to be that 65% of new shows will fail—now it's something like 80% because there are more shows than ever (thanks to new platforms). The only thing you can do is find something you love, something that you can imagine investing hours and months and possibly years of your life into. When staffing on a show, I generally gravitate toward the writers I love—because you have to love their writing in order to emulate them and grow their show. And because my taste is pretty eclectic, I look for projects that allow for a range of stories and tones.

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The CW

How do you hope your current project fits into the history of TV? What do you want the legacy to be?
Well, my current project is a reboot of an original series: Dynasty, which was a huge part of 1980's history and TV culture. It's been an amazing opportunity to work on it, with Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage (of Gossip Girl and The O.C. fame). In developing the pilot, we talked a lot about the current television landscape, and what Dynasty should look like in 2017; we decided to reframe the series through Fallon Carrington and her stepmother, Cristal, as they vie for the literal dynasty. I hope our legacy will be one of those women succeeding this time around. Plus there are already some amazing memes, and we haven't even aired yet [as of this writing]. Memes are a pretty fine legacy in 2017...

Dynasty airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on the CW.