In for a Penny, in for a Pound: Diversity in Daytime

Victoria, Rowell, the ex- Drucilla Winters. This image may be subject to copyright - all rights retained by the original owner

The SON commnunity has been having  a wonderful discussion about diversity stemming from Christel Khalil’s interview.   I thought I would post some ‘final thoughts’ (HA!) about the matter:

YnR writers aren’t writing ‘color blind’ storylines, in my opinion. I would love to believe that CK’s Lily is the perfect example of  ‘post racial’ storyline telling.  It would make sense if it were true of all storylines regarding all characters.  As it stands, only Lily is the ‘integrated character’… and for what reason?  To what end?  Not in the history of daytime has any non-minority character shared screen time almost exclusively with minority characters, to the exclusion of all other non-minority characters.  That’s not ‘integration’.  That’s not ‘color blind’ storytelling.  I think it’s a travesty and it sells the audience short to think we wouldn’t notice.

Bear with me as I do something I rarely do in this blog, at least, and that’s comment on my perceptions of an actor’s talent.   I find the writers pushing CK’s Lily to the exclusion of almost all other multicultural characters especially  troubling because, in my opinion, I find CK’s performances LIFELESS!  I honest to goodness don’t know how anyone avoids holding a mirror to her face to check for breathing whenever she’s not speaking.  Her inflections feel wrong in pretty much every scene and I think her acting choices leave A LOT to be desired.  I think CK’s Lily sucks the breath out of every scene she’s in.   Any male paired with her becomes the same walking sleeping pill she is.

Kristoff St. John probably whizzes away more talent after a stiff drink than CK will ever have – pardon the coarse expression. Victoria Rowell could sleepwalk and do a better job.  Yet, neither actor is around to do a darned thing, with the exception of KSJ’s far too infrequent appearances, because the writers seem to believe that their ‘diversity standard’ is set by Lily and that the diversity the Winters family once provided is no longer needed.

The Winters as a family was beloved and embraced by fans because they were authentic in representing the spectrum of life that most families have, including African-American family-  Bless Bill Bell for knowing that and giving us:

  • Neil, straight-laced high achieving all around good guy.   He is sometimes a little too impressed with the sound of his own voice and his own magnificence, but he means well.
  • Dru, reformed from her bad girl days, criminal record, rejected child acting out.  She was a screwed up child who became an extraordinary woman.  I could EASILY cut away three or more characters from YnR to have her back… EASILY.  She was worth every one of them PLUS!
  • Olivia, another high achieving privileged first born.  Olivia was  a bit of a judgmental prig and the thought that Liv and Neil would have eventually gotten together was enough to make me shudder.  They would have been daytime’s first African-American stuporcouple.
  • Malcolm, wild child, playboy/sexgod/work in progress and still a man with a good heart.  I never knew whether to root for him to be redeemed or for him to continue on in his naughty naughty ways!
  • Mamie, loving and devoted aunt, not a lot of money or education, but she’s gives all the right things. She takes in the unwanted, unloved Dru and helps her turn her life around.  When the writers focused on her relationship with Dru and Liv, she was the middle class version of ‘Auntie Mame‘.
  • Nate, a good guy who had a rough start in life but turned everything around.    Nate had ‘rootability’ from the beginning, in my book.  He had to be Dru’s hero, and I’m glad that he was.  Each of us probably knows a RL ‘Nate’, a man who took back his life and ‘made good’.
  • I’m still wishing for ‘Little Nate’s’ return.  I wonder what he would make of his family, now.
  • And now Devon rounds out the family (not sure if he was Bill Bell’s creation or not, but I’m glad he’s on board).   College student, survivor, a little screwed up, but he completes the family.

Nate Sr. has died, Malcolm is off in the world,  and I have no idea where Mamie is (forgot).  Devon and Neil are occasionally  seen.
Everyone else? Traded in and we’re left with  LILY.
What a slap!

Regarding MarkH’s insightful question of whether Dru’s presence made  Olivia’s introduction possible?  Was Olivia more acceptable because of Dru?

Dru wasn’t the ‘default standard’, for me. I loved the way the two sisters complemented one another. I wouldn’t have wanted EITHER woman, alone. Liv, the accomplished doctor, who was still a little too ‘sorority girl’ (along with Ashley – they were so sappy sweet together, I developed cavities when they were on screen together). Then there was Dru, the street kid.

Dru was never ‘good enough’ for her mother.  Her mother never wanted to have another child after the perfect LIV and didn’t so much as notice that her daughter couldn’t read.   Liv was the heir, Dru was the spare. It’s such a classic ‘family’ story (not just “African-American” story) and it was wonderful to see these two sisters play off of one another, genuinely loving one another but being divided by the strife their mother created.

Minorities/underrepresented groups so rarely get to have the balanced portrayals that non-minority groups do that we’re caught struggling with our feelings about the few characters who are supposed to represent us.  Drucilla alone feels like a cruel joke – daytime writers once again indulging their fantasies about who black women are. Olivia alone feels somewhat like a different kind of repudiation of culture (much like Lily). Bill Bell was master enough to appreciate that and I think he really understood that in both simple and complex ways that the current YnR writers are ignorant of, or seem to be.

OLTL writers ” got it” and provided balance with the ‘good sib’ and the ‘troubled sib’. It’s how they wrote: Nate and RJ Gannon, and Cristian and Antonio (as well as Vicki and Todd, and Natalie and Jessica).

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One thought on “In for a Penny, in for a Pound: Diversity in Daytime

  1. I have to say that I agree with your opinion of CK’s portrayal of Lily! I loved Davetta Sherwood in the role. She was one of the few recasts that I took to immediately. I thought she had great chemistry with Michael Graziadei’s Daniel and then CK came back it was gone. I tuned out for a very long time & haven’t been a regular viewer since.

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