My friend Matt recently published an excellent primer on weddings in Romania (and Moldova), and it reminded me of one of the weirdest episodes of television ever broadcast in the United States.
Way back in 1985, at a time when Romanians were suffering from severe energy and food shortages in an effort to pay back IMF bankers, over in America, a soap opera about silly rich people was incredibly popular.
Hard as it is to believe nowadays, Dynasty was a huge cultural phenomenon, becoming the number one show in the country by the spring of 1985. And at the end of that season, there was a cliffhanger episode officially titled Royal Wedding that was better known to fans as the “Moldavian Wedding Massacre.”
I honestly don’t think it’s possible to understand the sheer ridiculousness of this episode unless you’ve already figured out how to assimilate a reality wherein a rich clan of people living in Denver, Colorado (!) constantly drop in on each other instead of calling ahead and other soap opera type nonsense.
Nevertheless, the highly-anticipated Dynasty season finale in 1985 saw Alexis go through with her marriage to “Prince Michael” of Moldavia, the son of “King Galen”. Although it was supposed to take place in Moldavia, the exterior grounds were clearly that of an English estate, filled with men dressed up in French guard outfits.
Furthermore, the entire ceremony was conducted in English. The “here comes the bride” song was played even though it is forbidden to use this in Orthodox (and Catholic) ceremonies, and the priest performed the ceremony in front of a Celtic cross.
If that’s not ridiculous enough for you, the wedding is interrupted by “Moldavian terrorists” who literally swing their way onto the grounds via a series of handles mounted on the roof. It truly is bonkers television.
Below you can see the “massacre” that an estimated 60 million people watched live when it was broadcast:
Americans spent the summer excitedly discussing the “Moldavian massacre” but were quite disappointed in autumn when it was revealed that only a couple of minor characters were killed. Dynasty never recovered, and it’s now lost in the archives of weird television.
Just as a reminder:
- Moldova has never had a king, ever.
- “Moldavia” is just the old way to spell Moldova (like “Rumania” for Romania).
- The “Moldavian” prince was played by a British actor.
- In 1985, both Moldova (the country) and Moldova (the region of Romania) had hardline Communist governments and no royal families.
- There have never have been any domestic terrorists in Moldova.
Honestly, my guess is that the writers of Dynasty wanted a “glamorous” European royal wedding and picked the name Moldavia out of a hat. They clearly knew nothing about Eastern Europe and didn’t care.
Nonetheless, it was a huge hit in the United States, one of the highest-rated (non-sports) episodes of television in all of history, meaning tens of millions of Americans got some seriously mixed-up ideas about Moldova.
Bonus points: “Prince Michael of Moldova” was played by an actor named Michael Praed, but Praed is his stage name. His real name is Michael Prince.
MOLDAVIAN WEDDING MASSACRE!