Primetime soap Monarch debuted on Fox September 11. At a Television Critics Association press conference, the team behind the country music sudser shared their insights on the premiere episode, per Variety.
In the very first episode, Dottie Roman (Susan Sarandon) discovers she has cancer. With the help of her daughter Nicky (Anna Friel), Dottie apparently dies by suicide, swallowing a bottle's worth of pills.
This moment was surely shocking for viewers. EP Jon Heldman reflected:
Susan’s a part of the show. She hovers over everyone. She influences everything. She comes in and out of the show. So she will appear in multiple episodes, and we have some great stuff planned for her… So she is a looming presence, both on screen and off on ‘Monarch’ in Season 1.
Showrunner Melissa London Hilfers noted:
It shows the kind of bold storytelling that we’re doing. You never know what to expect and what’s going to happen next, and there are shocking things that happen. That being said, once she really got to set, I really regretted it. We never wanted to say goodbye!
Michael Thorn, president of entertainment for Fox Entertainment, added:
It was always designed that the matriarch of the family was going to die at the end of the pilot. But it was also always designed that the matriarch would then come back in several of the episodes throughout the first season in flashback. There’s two things happening in the series. The first one is, as you know, there’s the succession story of who will inherit the crown of country music after Dottie Roman passes away. But the other part of it, which plays out, in part, in the flashback, is Trace Adkins’ character says, the Roman legacy is really built on lies.