Ivana Trump's headline-grabbing declaration Monday suggesting she's the country's real first lady seemed to come out of nowhere.
But the dig she took at Melania Trump on “Good Morning America” rose straight out of a TV classic: the Alexis Colby playbook.
The unexpected first-wife power play served as an unintended promo for this week's reboot of "Dynasty," which debuts Wednesday on The CW. The timing underscored the bizarre melding of old-school TV melodrama and high-stakes reality that's permeated life in 2017 America.
Ivana Trump's strange brand of celebrity climbed with her husband's in the 1980s, just as "Dynasty," with its scheming Denver jet-set Colbys and Carringtons, emerged as the saucier and campier competition to "Dallas."
The former model and skier from Czechoslovakia cut a glamorous figure before emerging as an object of sympathy when her real estate developer husband publicly dumped her for the 14-years younger Marla Maples. The New York Post front page blaring, "Best Sex I Ever Had" – Maples' supposed praise for Donald Trump's prowess – splashed in 1990, a year after "Dynasty" left the airwaves.
At age 68, Ivana Trump is a comeback kid on a media continuum that's traveled from daytime soap operas to nighttime soaps to a reality television landscape filled with allegedly “real” housewives and one mogul who parlayed TV fame into the ultimate position of authority.
The mother of the President's three eldest children jumped back onto the timeline while publicizing her book "Raising Trump." Speaking on ABC's "GMA," Ivana Trump boasted of having a direct White House phone number. But she said she avoided calling so she wouldn't make Melania Trump jealous, adding: "I’m basically first Trump wife, OK? I’m first lady, OK?"
Melania Trump’s spokeswoman dismissed the comments as "self-serving noise" from an ex-wife – heightening the emerging feud storyline that recalls the Alexis-Krystle dynamic from the old “Dynasty” days.
The original version of the ABC drama ran from 1981 to 1989, coinciding with the presidency of Ronald Reagan, a former actor who headed the nation during some of the frostiest moments of the Cold War and touted tax cuts for the wealthy as a benefit for all.
It's too early to tell whether the new version of "Dynasty" will ride a similar zeitgeist wave.
But its main competition may be a real-life soap opera at a time when frivolous distractions from actual crises are the last thing the country needs.