Why is it that the best ‘soap’ moments don’t come from daytime soaps at all? If you got goosebumps reading the subject header, you remember the infamous scene from ‘Lace’ in which celebrated wild child, Lili, confronts Pagan, Maxine, and Judy. The latter three have been best friends since their days at boarding school, so much so that they hid a pregnancy – refusing to tell which of the three was pregnant. Together they placed the child for adoption. Lili is that child. While adopted by a lovely couple, Lili’s childhood was miserable following their untimely death. She was forced to ‘survive’ in the most unlikely of ways. Though now incredibly wealthy and successful, Lili is equally angry at the three for having abandoned her (they believed she was killed in the war along with her adoptive parents). Lili sets each of the three women up to lose everything they hold dear, unless they answer the long-held hair raising question… one of entertainment’s soapiest moments is found 1:28 into the video:
You really want to know which ‘bitch’ is it, don’t you? Fine… here you go:
Where is the same level of camp/drama/intrigue in daytime? Where is the lovely but infuriating clever ingenue who steals your heart, but makes you lose your cool all at the same time? She is not alone in being missing in action in the soap genre. Daytime is woefully short in offering two types of characters that have typically driven soaps in the past:
1. Empowered women. The empowered woman’s motto is, ‘If they screw with you, pay them back tenfold’. The empowered woman in daytime is unapologetic for being smart and in control of her own destiny. She does not suffer fools gladly. She knows what she wants and she’s not afraid to go after it. Her strength is a true strength, and not psychotic and controlling behaviors reinterpreted as strength – as with bat crap crazy BnB’s Stephanie Forrester and GH’s Helena Cassadine.
She’s equipped to stand her ground in the boardroom, in her romantic relationships, and in all other aspects of her empowered life. Take, for example, OLTL’s Rachel Gannon. She’s a second generation empowered woman (as far as we know). Daughter of the legendary ass-kicking Nora Gannon Buchanan, Rachel fought a drug habit, served time in prison, is now a drug treatment counselor, and a woman slowly falling in love with a good man – the damned sexy and cuddly Shaun Evans .. who has a rich, powerful, sleaze for a brother. You can see where this is going, can’t you? Hang on a minute.
Empowered women still exist, they’re just often revamped to play ‘weak’ and ‘whiny’ women who have to beg forgiveness when they’re mistreated by the men in their lives, or by others. If they’re not completely destroyed, they’re placed on the backburner once daytime writers decide that they’ve had enough with all the ‘grit’ and ‘courage’ and they replace her with knuckle-drooling counterpart – weak women whose claim to fame is compliance and acquiescence – deference to the mindless soap male. It’s why I’m sure that in short order, Rachel Gannon will fall for the sleazy brother, Dr. Gregory Evans. She’ll want to ‘save’ him from himself, and she’ll hurt sweetheart Shaun in the process.
The dialogue that follows? “We didn’t mean to hurt you!” … “It just happened”….” If I could take it all back”… and then the years of affairs, maltreatment, excuses, and bitter triangles in which she’ll have to fight off Greg’s other ‘great love’ begins… for you dear soap fans, not for me. As I’ve taken the BnB off my playlist, the OLTL is soon to follow should the storyline play out as it seems. What is it with OLTL and the siblings/shared lovers storylines? Layla/Cristian/Evangeline – Bo/Nora/Clint – Stacy/Rex/Gigi, and now, most likely, Shaun/Rachel/Gregory.
2. The Vixen. Unlike the empowered woman, she fights from a position of fear, anger, and insecurity. Her motto is ‘Get them before they get you’. She’s more likely to wreak havoc and create hell in the lives around her and not because she’s necessarily evil, but more so because she doesn’t know any other way of existing. DAYS’ Melanie comes closest to a real live ‘bad girl’ in the mold of the daytime classic over-the-top troubled vixens, but I need more.
Remember GH’s Lucy Coe when she was first introduced? Oh.Dear.Soapgod. Who could have seen that one coming? That Lucy was involved with bad boy Kevin was a given… it was clear that the mousy librarian was protecting him. That the ‘mousy’ librarian wasn’t mousy at all, but a studded collar short from being a dominatrix? SAY WHAT? No one I knew who watched soaps then had ever seen anything like it. Sadly, I suspect we’ll never see anything as off the wall wonderful as Lucy Coe again, not in daytime (OH, and SHAME ON YOU, GH. In a recent interview, Lynn Herring (Lucy Coe) reveals that she made it clear to TPTB that she was open to reprising the role… they weren’t interested. GH’s loss is As The World Turns’ gain.
I’d hoped that OLTL’s Stacy would become Lucy-esque, she had such potential – but the writers took it one step twenty steps too far. Not only did Stacy drug and try to seduce Rex Balsom, the object of her obsession, her sister’s fiance, and father of her only nephew (pretty tame for daytime vixens, however), she went as far as allowing her sister, Gigi, to believe that she would allow Gigi’s son, Shane, die unless her sister turned Rex over to her. That’s pretty psychotic for a daytime vixen. If there was ever anything to root for as far as Stacy was concerned, that storyline killed it. Had the writers had Stacy fake being the donor, with Roxy and Kyle’s help as she was already doing, Stacy as a vixen could have survived. She could have then played off of Rex’s gratitude to slowly seduce him away as Gigi was heavily focused on Shane’s recovery. The writers could have set a trusting Gigi up to ask Rex to play ‘nurse maid’ to her recovering sister. Allowing a mother to believe that you would let her son die, for a roll in the hay? Bad. When the child’s mother is your own sister? EVIL.
Without it’s heroic empowered women and mischief making vixens, daytime has me tuning elsewhere for interesting characters (real or fictional).