Nuke countdown… 5 4 3 2….
Comparing individuals who are part of minority groups is usually a bit paternalistic and as a person of color I try to avoid it whenever possible. There are times, however, when comparisons are useful to illustrate a point. I remember watching Day of Our Lives, not long after learning about the cancellation of As The World Turns and watching Crystal Chappell at work in the reprised role of ‘Carly Manning Alamain’. I immediately started thinking about the reported deleted scene from the last episode of The Guiding Light, one in which Olivia gave Natalia a kiss on the cheek as Rafe boarded the bus on his way to basic training, and to begin his new life. It was cut – for some unknown reason… uh huh… As I thought about that deleted scene, I wondered if As The World Turns writers would follow The Guiding Light’s lead; specifically, are As The World Turns writers running out the clock on Nuke? Despite the numerous opportunities to make Otalia a full-fledged couple, like any other, Guiding Light writers waited until the last episodes to let fans know that the couple would, off screen, make it while building their new family. I suspect that Nuke is headed for the same fate.
Luke and Noah’s relationship started as a groundbreaking event in daytime – U.S. soaps first openly gay male couple. Unfortunately, there seems to have been more smoke for the couple on paper than anything that approximated fire onscreen. Onscreen, short of an occasional kiss and the implication that sex had occurred, it would have be pretty difficult for those who are sporadic viewers, or viewers flipping through channels, to not mistake Luke and Noah for siblings (right down to the scary proposition that Lily and Damian ‘adopt’ Noah, making Luke his lover’s legal brother). To think that Jerry Springer doesn’t even write for As the World Turns- at least not in his own name.
When I think about the difference between the way the One Life to Live writers approach the Kish (Kyle and Oliver Fish) relationship, I’m both in awe, and feel a bit of bitter disappointment about Nuke. The problems with the Kish storyline have nothing to do with character sexuality. The writers have potentially weakened the Kish dynamic by glossing over Kyle’s earlier blackmail of Natalie Buchanan and Jared Banks, and his willingness to torment a fragile Jessica Buchanan with the loss of yet another child. They’ve glossed over his involvement with Stacy in deceiving Rex and Gigi regarding Shane’s treatment and recovery. Of course, Stacy is still an evil bitch, and Kyle has been redeemed as a misguided and desperate pawn. The writers have glossed over the batshit crazy Kyle’s sister brought to screen and dropped any possible exploration of whether or not he’d been covering his involvement with her all this time. Right now it seems to be the case that he genuinely had nothing to do with her – but shouldn’t there be some lingering doubt?
It would have been quite an interesting dynamic to watch the above board, letter-of-the-law Oliver Fish reconcile his regard for law and his deep love for Kyle. (Yet another common thread with As The World Turns. I immediately began thinking of Carly Tenney and her “G Man” Jack Snyder.) I’d love to see a more nuanced relationship in which we’re rooting for Oliver’s happiness and wanting Kyle to be the right man for him, but never knowing if he should or would ever, be able to trust Kyle. Is Kyle with Oliver because he loves him, or is he with Oliver to fool everyone into thinking that he’s turned over a new leaf?
The role that should have gone to Kyle is now being played out by seemingly devious Nick – who listens at doorways and seems to always be involved in some underhanded plot. Oliver is still the good guy – trusting, hopeful, willing to believe in his love with Kyle and the bond he’s sure they share. I’ve been ambivalent about the rush job on Kish, for the reasons mentioned above, and yet still find myself rooting for them and wanting to kick Nick’s backside right out the door. If only there was some audience participation software that would have allowed me to give Roxy (and by extension One Life to Live writers) a high five when she observantly figured out that there’s something not quite right about Nick and that he could spell big trouble for Kish. The writers rarely allow our girl to be that observant!
What I appreciate most about the Kish/Nick storyline is that it’s a formula linked to a tried and true daytime staple. We’ve seen it a million times before, the lover on the outside wants in. An illness/injury/spat of amnesia leads the lover on the outside (Nick in this case) to use the condition to keep the unsuspecting target (Kyle) close. Only the target’s partner (Oliver) realizes what’s going on while the target repeatedly sides with the lover on the outside. Sooner or later Kyle and Oliver will end up fighting over Oliver’s not-so-insane jealously over Nick and mistrust of Nick and Kyle together. The distance between the young lovers will grow while Nick stands in the background smirking and plotting even further. Just when it seems that our young lovers will work their way back to one another, Nick will probably figure out that Stacy is pregnant with Oliver’s child and break the couple up ‘for good’, picking up the pieces and moving on with Kyle for as long as they last.
The writers have very quietly and cleverly done in months what years of pseudo-activism on As The World Turns has failed to do with Nuke. Carlivarti and crew have made it clear that Kish is just like everyone else, in all the ways that matter. When it was evident that As The World Turns writers would create a teen pregnancy storyline with Liberty, I’d hoped that Luke and Noah, with a little magical same-character-SORASing, would step in as the child’s adoptive parents. I wanted them to be a family, together, and to learn that it wasn’t as easy being in love as they’d thought, but fighting to remain committed to one another and growing stronger together.
Instead, it was one series of missteps after another for the couple. Nuke has yet to be integrated into the cast in a way that makes us identify with them as people. The writers have only allowed us to identify with them based on their sexuality. They are that – and so much more and it would be nice, before the show ends, for the writers to tell us who they are. Pessimistically, I hear the ticking of the clock, and suspect that the writers are more interested in running the clock down as we approach 2010. No family for Nuke, no lives related to their work or other accomplishments, not even a kiss on the cheek at the end, justa good bye, and what a pity that would be.