The BnB’s Celluloid Closet…

ROUND THREE, people, ROUND THREE! This will probably be my last blog on this topic for a while, since I’ve neglected my GH, DAYS, and OLTL duties and have yet to reflect on my new love-hate relationship with all three shows.

One of the benefits of posting on soap message boards and blogging is that posting gives you the opportunity to think fully about fans’ reactions to storylines you may think of as basic storylines. Apparently not! In the last BnB blog I posted, I wrote that I’ve been surprised by two concepts 1 – that Stephanie Forrester and Taylor Hamilton Hayes are ‘too moral’ to become involved in a lesbian storyline. 2 – That Taylor and Stephanie are highly moral, at all. The comments below work if you believe that it’s objectively true that Stephanie and Taylor are ‘moral’.

As the debate continues on the official Bold and Beautiful board regarding the speculated possibility of a ‘Staylor’ storyline, I realize just how brilliant the writing for ATWT and GL has been! Before you burn me in effigy, let me qualify that statement – because it clearly requires qualification. The writers of both shows have done something that would not dared have been dreamed of just a couple of decades ago. They’ve established their respective couples (Nuke and Otalia) with at least one partner in the couple serving as their respective shows’ moral centers.

Luke and Noah resisted the temptation to bed-hop as so many others around them had. Noah’s father was a horror of a freak show and Luke’s parents have likely spent as much time sleeping with other people as they have sleeping with one another. Nuke came together not because they were running from anything else, but because they were running TO each other. They took their time getting there (too much time for some fans’ tastes, but they were worth the wait). Nuke brought a patience, kindness, and caring back to the show that had been missing for some time. They also brought back a sense of old-fashioned romance.

The same could be said of Otalia.WOWZA! Their long-awaited admissions of love for one another was nothing short of ‘supernova’ brilliant! The tone was right, the location was right -oddly enough at Gus’ graveside, Liv’s inability to stop herself from saying the words she’s worked so hard to avoid was gut-wrenching… if I wasn’t already sold on them as a couple, I would have been sold at that moment. I haven’t been as pleased with what followed, but more on that at another time. What immediately struck me was Liv’s comment to Nat that she knew that the fact that she loved her was a ‘sin’ in Nat’s religion, but that she couldn’t stop from loving her. Nat treated Liv’s concern about her religious ideas for what it was, no obstacle. (Not everyone interprets religious scriptures the same way; and not everyone believes that love is a sin). Ok, so you’ve seen the follow up eps by now and know that religion will be an issue for the couple in the future. ARGH! I told you that would happen so I’m not surprised, but ARGH is still the best reaction I’m capable of giving at this time.

As for the original point, I think it’s fascinating that Natalia has become the ‘new Maureen Bauer’. She’s the show’s mother hen who makes easy work of finding the good in everyone, who keeps an open door and open heart to everyone around her, and is a friend to anyone in need. I can’t help but believe that the writers will address the ‘religiosity’ aspect of the Otalia storyline, soon, removing the notion of Natalia as a ‘damned soul’ because of her feelings for Olivia.

I think that the way the writing team from each soap handled the matter of establishing their respective couple as part of the show’s moral core (if such a thing exists on a daytime show) was so subtle that I hadn’t thought of it as an overarching theme for the introduction of gay/lesbian couples in the contemporary daytime setting. It could certainly be considered an extension of the introduction of AMC’s Bianca Montgomery who, at almost every age, has served as the keeper of Pine Valley’s collective moral conscience. She became ‘Grandma Mona’s’ spiritual heir.

The Bold and The Beautiful’s Celluloid Closet

If you’ve never seen the documentary ‘The Celluloid Closet’, it’s a MUST VIEW. The documentary is based on Vito Russo’s book of the same name. Clearly Hollywood did a poor job of supporting diversity of any kind in its early history, but like many others, my self-invested interests kept me focused on the nonexistent racial diversity and problematic portrayals of women. This documentary opened my eyes to discrimination across the board, and how easily societal attitudes about sexual minorities have been both shaped and reinforced by the superficial images presented on screen. When I see resistance to the notion of a ‘Staylor’ pairing, there’s a part of me that wonders if the implicit and explicit messages about the ‘morality’ and ‘sexuality’ as polar opposites taps some unexpectedly uncomfortable space when it comes to two characters who’ve presented themselves as the show’s moral standard bearers.

The questions for me is, given how well the formula has worked on other shows, why WOULDN”T Stephanie and Taylor serve as the most likely couple – should the writers decide to introduce sexual diversity to the BnB audience? Wouldn’t this be yet another variation on the theme?

Opening Segment of ‘The Celluloid Closet:

If the ever noble Luke and Noah, spiritual Bianca, and religious Natalia have led the way in asking fans to reconsider their ideas of sexual minorities as ‘immoral’ wherever those feelings exist, wouldn’t it make perfect sense for Stephanie and Taylor to provide the avenue to opening the discussion for viewers on The Bold and the Beautiful? I don’t know how anyone BUT the incredibly skilled Susan Flannery and John McCook could lead this storyline forward (yes, John McCook, not Hunter Tylo). I can see JM’s Eric reacting to his wife, in her ‘golden years’ – as Steph gingerly calls them, deciding not to spend her remaining time supporting him but deciding to live her life with dignity and integrity and being the person she was meant to be.

A tearful and genuine final goodbye to the drama and turmoil she’s lived with Eric? They part as friends, parents, and long ago partners in success before she moves on with her life? And then in walks Taylor. It’s the only thing that makes sense to me. As they stand now, their friendship doesn’t make sense in light of the Stephanie’s extreme attitudes and behaviors regarding Taylor. In the same documentary, author Susie Bright discusses clues that suggest the possible same sex attraction of Mrs Danvers to the character ‘Rebecca’, in the film of the same name. Her comments are in relationship to the clip from the film, featured below (beginning 5:30 in):

“Rebecca” and Mrs. Danvers:

I’ve been asked why I haven’t thought of Stephanie and Brooke as potential partners or supported that notion.  Easy.  It doesn’t make sense!  If we follow the analogy all the way through, then clearly Stephanie is operating in the role of ‘Mrs. Danvers’ to Taylor’s “Rebecca’, with Brooke serving as “the second Mrs. De Winters”. No no, Brooke is no innocent, as is Joan Fontaine’s “the second Mrs. De Winters”, but Brooke truly loves Ridge (who serves as ‘Maxim’ in this analogy). She continues loving him despite never being able to win over the support of the controlling and overly protective Stephanie/Mrs. Danvers. Because of the unspoken love, and unbroken bond, Stephanie’s Danvers shares with Taylor’s ‘Rebecca” – one that not even death breaks, Brooke will always be on the outside. She will never overcome Steph’s/Danvers’ desire to maintain the MYTH of Taylor’s (Rebecca’s) perfection. Brooke will continue to be psychologically tortured by a false image of the perfect woman that Stephanie/Danvers created out of her own unexpressed desires, an image Stephanie/Danvers uses as a weapon against Brooke/2ndDW, though she knows the truth.

Brooke’s 2ndDW will never benefit from having Steph’s Mrs. Danvers spin her misdeeds into something magical and perfectly acceptable in order to hide those sins from those around her as Stephanie/Danvers has done for Taylor/Rebecca. Note how, in both the film and on the BnB, it was most important to maintain the notion of purity for those who were in the dark about Taylor/Rebecca’s true nature, most especially Ridge/Maxim. Steph’s only loyalty is to Taylor. Her passion and compassion are saved for Taylor. Her forgiveness is saved for Taylor. Why is it so unlikely that her truest love is reserved for Taylor? For those who think of Steph and Taylor as mere friends, I just don’t see it. I think the BnB has been writing from it’s own celluloid closet for these two characters for some time, unintentionally or not.

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One thought on “The BnB’s Celluloid Closet…

  1. You know, I don’t know if I disagree with the Taylor-Stephanie thing because they’re too MORAL. That’s a strong statement, since Stephanie has done many an unethical thing…and Taylor has moved into some slippery messed up territory since her return from the dead.

    I would say that before her second death, Taylor’s actions mostly seemed PRINCIPLED.

    But I do not think these two women would ever have even a hint of a relationship beyond their familial one…and I really don’t think the show means to convey that subtext. Stephanie has railed far too much about family in-breeding to do the same. I have never seen her as hypocritical.

    As for Taylor, I harken back to the days when her character made sense (before the second death). Taylor was then honest and straightforward. She was also a healthy psychiatrist. All of those elements would have led me to believe that if she felt any same sex stirrings, she would have acknowledged and acted on them.

    It would make 100% perfect sense to me if Stephanie was a lesbian, and if she finally — in this post Eric era — acknowledged that. But then she’d have to fess up that she likes the trampy girls (Brooke, Jackie)…and that would be the direction of her lust.

    I am glad this idea has inspired you so much though. Time for some fanfic!

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