ABC’s “Grand Hotel” is not going to win any Emmys. It’s not groundbreaking drama. It’s a glamorous, melodramatic, sometimes funny and often just plain frothy soap opera. I liked the pilot, and I’m looking forward to watching the series this summer.
Look, TV can be great; I’m all about award-winning dramas and documentaries and news and clever comedies.
But sometimes you just want to be entertained. To sit back on the couch and watch larger-than-life, impossibly attractive people who live in gorgeous places and are caught up in romance, scandal and murder. And “Grand Hotel” (Monday, 9 p.m., ABC/Ch. 4) is well stocked in all of that.
Once upon a time, there were a lot of TV shows like this — “Dallas,” “Dynasty,” “Knots Landing,” “Falcon Crest,” “Melrose Place,” “Beverly Hills, 90210,” “Desperate Housewives,” “The O.C.” and more. Not so much today, except for Fox’s “Empire” (which has been unwatchable for four of its five seasons) and The CW’s “Dynasty” reboot (which is sometimes just freakin’ hilarious).
So there's certainly room for a summertime prime-time soap.
“One of the intentions with the show was to make you feel like you were going on vacation,” said executive producer Brian Tanen. “We are having incredibly troubled times right now, and this show feels like a tonic. It feels like an escape to the beach at the most beautiful hotel you’ve ever been at.”
“Grand Hotel” is based on a Spanish TV series; executive producer Eva Longoria — best known as one of the stars of “Desperate Housewives” — optioned that show and Tanen updated it. The original was set in the early 20th century; this one takes place in the present day.
Various plot lines swirl around the fabulous Grand Hotel, the last privately owned hotel in Miami Beach. But the place is in financial trouble, so family patriarch Santiago Mendoza (Demián Bichir) has made a deal to sell — which upsets his adult daughter, Alicia (Denyse Tontz), and son Javi (Bryan Craig). But Santiago’s second wife, Gigi (Roselyn Sanchez), encourages the sale.
Did I mention that Alicia and Javi don’t much like their stepmother or her adult, fraternal twin daughters from a previous marriage, Yoli (Justina Adorno) and Carolina (Feliz Ramirez)?
It’s not just about that fractured family, however. There’s a definite upstairs-downstairs element to it, with interaction (and even romance) between the wealthy people who own the hotel and the people who work for them. And I love that the upstairs people in “Grand Hotel” are Hispanic.
(Nine of the 11 primary cast members are people of color.)
Downstairs, there’s a maid, Ingrid (Anne Winters), who might be pregnant by one of the upstairs men; a mysterious hotel manager, Mateo (Shalim Ortiz); a longtime hotel employee who’s worked her way up the ladder, Mrs. P (Wendy Raquel Robinson) and her son Jason (Chris Warren), who’s a waiter. There’s also a new waiter, Danny (Lincoln Younes), who is not who he says he is — and he’s determined to find out what happened to a young woman employee who disappeared during a hurricane.
Longoria shows up in flashbacks as Santiago’s first wife. (And she wants you to know that if she looks bigger than you remember her being in “Desperate Housewives,” “I’d just had my baby.”)
I’m not telling you that “Grand Hotel” is going to make you any smarter or challenge you in any way. But if you just sit back, relax and don’t take it too seriously, it will entertain you.
Isn’t that what television is supposed to do?