‘Monarch’ Review: A Soapy Show With Big Hair and Even Bigger Drama  

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Melodrama and country crooning ain’t everybody’s cup of sweet tea, but in Monarch, the new drama on Fox, you can expect big portions of both the size of Texas. When you think of country music, Nashville and Texas naturally come to mind, but surprisingly, Monarch film locations are in Hall County, Georgia. But that’s a whole ‘nother story. 

Get ready for big hair, big boots, and even bigger personalities in Season 1 of Monarch on Fox. Centered around a powerful country music dynasty, Monarch is the country version of Empire or the soapy counterpart to Yellowstone but instead of the biggest ranch, they’ve got the biggest record company.  

You can bet your gold-plated belt buckle there’s gonna be cheating, lying, and betrayal as a few Jolenes poach some married men. Fightin’ words are yelled and yodeled, shootouts are aplenty, and somebody’s gonna pay in the end. That’s the burning question at the end of every episode – who’s in for a hangin’?  

Season 1 of Monarch has more cliffhangers than Texas tumbleweeds. Focused on a country music dynasty at a turning point, it’s easy to get corralled into a ring of fire, starring Susan Sarandon as Dottie Cantrall Roman, the country music star and family matriarch, and country singer Trace Adkins as her husband Albie. 

In the pilot episode, the flash-forward scenes create an irresistible murder mystery right out of the ranch gates. Despite clunky dialogue, implausible storylines, and even more outlandish characters, the edge-of-your-saddle intrigue makes it addictive from the start.  

With a mysterious fire and bodies buried in Episode 1, we can’t help crooning from the hilltops in simple country music terms – That flaxen-haired Jolene better watch her back, especially when she’s boot-scooting in the barn with a married man. (Paging Albie Roman).  

Not to give away any spoilers, but somebody in the Roman family is sweatin’ like a sinner in church. It’s hard to say whodunnit in the first few episodes, making Monarch a binge-able treat with more than enough toppings to keep you coming back for more. 

Oscar-winner Susan Sarandon looks like the star of the show, but she hands over the bedazzled crown to her offspring after the first episode. Known for her left-leaning activism, Sarandon appears in flashbacks here and there, so the show isn’t likely to fan the flames of any right-wing political rage. Besides, after the bodies are buried and the blackmailers paid off, it’s really all about the music. 

And this ain’t your average country karaoke. Trace Adkins is a country music legend in his own right, and he delivers heartfelt crooning with a rustic and gruff yet soulful, classic style, like heirloom mahogany and love-worn leather.  

Beth Ditto, another country singer, stars as Gigi, the younger sister fighting over the spotlight with her big sis Nicky Roman. She slips into leather fringe, puts on silver-toed boots, and walks all over the patriarchy as the sassy troublemaker.   

The major plotlines seem to be taken straight from the tabloids, and it’s a fun ride for fans of melodrama. In between the blackmailing and backstabbing, viewers get a mighty big serving of musical performances of covers that are so catchy, they’ll get stuck in your head like beard hairs in a buttermilk biscuit. 

The covers of country music’s greatest hits are all wrapped up like a country-fried pageant queen, and then presented in a razzle-dazzle bow of leather, sequins, and wigs. She works hard for her money y’all, so you better treat her…(well, you know how it goes).  

Nicky Roman, played by Anna Friel, seems nervous on stage and shaking in her boots. But for Trace Adkins and Susan Sarandon, this ain’t their first rodeo and they’re going out with guns a blazin.’ 

Watch ‘Monarch’ on Fox with Vidgo, Tuesdays at 9/8c and on demand.  

Check out more entertainment reviews on the Vidgo blog The Stream including ‘Alaska Daily’ and ‘Welcome to Wrexham.’  

Vidgo features the best in sports, entertainment, news, and Latino programming with 150+ channels and thousands of movies and shows on demand 

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