Bold and Beautiful – Why I turned in my Brooke Fan card (for now)

BnB BBlogo1I was a Brooke fan from the day the show aired in 1987!  Before the explosion of the internet and social media, many of us met on whatever internet/AOL space we could find to discuss the show and to flash our newly minted “Brookie Cards”.  I found the group of BnB/Brooke fans to be fun, lively, and people whose passion for the wild half hour ride of this groundbreaking soap was, at times, even more enjoyable than the show.  Brooke was a rare soap heroine, in my book.   In some ways she was unique and incomparable.  In other ways she was a combination of two of my favorite daytime heroines.

Rachel Davis Cory (Another World)

Soap writers have loved the working woman’s daughter who clawed her way to fame and fortune, often through manipulated marriages to the town’s wealthy and eligible (more often ineligible) scions.  Was Another World’s Rachel Davis Cory a soap heroine?  Yes. Eventually.  Fans of the show may remember that Rachel was the hairdresser/cook/working woman Ada Davis’ daughter.  She was a poor girl who dreamed of being rich, not so much of marrying her true love.  To that end she pursued the very married Steven Frame and tormented his wife, Alice, with her pregnancy, given Alice’s difficulty having children of her own.  It was bold and vicious, and behavior that led to Rachel learning quite a few life lessons before becoming part of one of soaps’ greatest love stories: Rachel and Mac Cory.

Reva Shayne Lewis (The Guiding Light)

Who could forget the self-proclaimed  “slut of Springfield”  Reva Shayne?

Reva was no slut. The purpose of that proclamation was to alert the world, most especially the ever-judgmental, equally loving, Josh Lewis that she knew just how the world saw her – when the world looked through her, not at her.  Reva loved hard, played hard, and made a lot of mistakes. She alternated between being a bad girl and a good woman and I don’t think the audience could have loved her more – at least not those of us who loved her as she was.  By the time she’d finally married her Joshua, and in the moments they were happy, Reva’s life was good.  She never wanted his money or power.  Those things were always substitutes for the man himself during the times when Joshua set her aside for a new love, or when she set him aside out of petty jealousy or anger.

Brooke Logan Forrester

I have always seen Brooke as a remarkable combination of these two women.  She was no slut, not even the “slut from the valley” that Stephanie labeled her to be.  That was the jaundiced view of her from a woman (Stephanie) whose unseemly rage had decades of back story and tragedy we would learn of, decades later. Stephanie looked through Brooke, never at her, in those early years. Brooke was the working class dreamer, who fell in love with the idea of Stephanie’s son, Ridge, and then later fell for the man himself.  Brooke was no power/money hungry girl who dreamed of fame and fortune at any cost – a la Rachel Davis Cory.

The irony is that as Stephanie sat around in leisure – dreaming up conspiracies designed  to rob her family of its wealth, Brooke paid her own way.  She continued her education as a chemist.  She worked, rather than let Ridge buy her a car or pay her tuition.  She was her own woman.  She was the working woman’s daughter who never made apologies for having dirt under her nails from hard work.  She was PROUD of who her people were and the life her family created.  Her mother ran her own catering business and her father-figure brother helped support the family as an attorney.

Brooke had Rachel’s drive to be something better, without taking Rachel’s dark road.  She had Reva’s ability to make the world take notice, without the anger and bitterness of being “the help’s daughter” that at times swallowed Reva whole, making her want to prove to everyone that she was better than they’d given her credit for and smarter than any of them ever were.

Where did it all go wrong?

BreaconWhere I get off the Brookie path is with the transition of Brooke for strong woman with a fragile heart underneath to a nearly erotomanic moppet! Brooke’s love for Ridge was something I understood.  Reciprocating when Eric reached out to her was something I understood.  She was young, alone, and being tormented by a woman whose hatred for Brooke and her mother, Beth (who was coincidentally Eric’s former fiancee), became stronger than the love Stephanie had for any other person, Eric included.  Stephanie’s irrational hatred of Brooke was intensely epic.

By the time Brooke got together with Thorne, I became a bit weary, but held on for dear life.  One innocent kiss from Thorne became an explosive awakening of hurt feelings and the possibility of healing them through Thorne’s kind embraces.  I couldn’t believe I’d found myself in the position of doing so, but I was cheering on Brooke and Thorne’s happiness – feeling alternately sorry for and angry at Macy for faulting Brooke, alone, when Thorne left her.  It didn’t matter, right?  Brooke and Thorne would prove everyone wrong and be together for years. YEARS, I tell ya;!  The soapgods have a sense of humor, I see.

Then came Deacon and I still held on.  I held to my Brooke love, but let go of the show, waiting for the hot messiness of “Breacon” to be over.   Sitting by the fire place, imbibing a glass of cognac, bourbon, Colt 45, or Schlitz Malt Liquor, I can’t remember, and it was done.  Brooke was in love.  I remember thinking that one glass of liquor and a kiss from her reprobate son-in-law shouldn’t have made it possible for Brooke to betray the daughter to whom she’d given birth and lovingly nurtured.   Had it been one event, or it had even taken place prior to Deacon meeting Bridget, I could almost understand it as typical soap camp. This was something more.  It was dark.  The tragedy played out all over again with Nick Marone – equally pathetic reprobate son-in-law who traded Bridget’s love for lust with her mother.

I know, yes, soap daughters have betrayed their mothers (and soap sons have betrayed their fathers) – typically out of anger (see GL’s Blake Thorpe Marler. for example).  Rarely will soaps have mothers cross that line and hurt their daughters or fathers their sons.  That level of betrayal ends with serious consequences for many a parent dearest (DAYS – Addie Horton, who intentionally betrayed daughter Julie by stealing away and marrying  Julie’s true love [and part-con man] Doug Williams.  Doug and Julie were supposed to run away together for a Portofino honeymoon, but mama Addie ended up on the honeymoon, instead -having intentionally placed her happiness over her daughter’s.  Addie and Doug become pregnant with Hope Williams Brady – a character created by the great man William J. Bell.  How does it end?  Surviving cancer during her pregnancy, Addie is killed in an accident shortly after Hope’s birth).

The worst sin a soap character can commit, for me as a viewer, is not and act of sin but the act of lacking depth in character.  We see that in a parent’s betrayal of a child.  What would make a parent do something so vile, other than sheer depravity?  What would cause a parent to betray a child?  Brooke repeatedly betrayed Bridget before, and all the way through, her pregnancy with BnB’s Hope – all while wringing her hands and claiming that the affair was based on true love  with con-man Deacon Sharpe.  It happened again with Bridget and Nick.  There was the “accidental” betrayal of Hope with the “sex up a wall” with Brooke and Oliver.  Now?  Brooke and her psychologically weak brother-in-law call themselves in love after a balloon ride.  No depth, no understanding, nothing left but the plot device – and to me, that is truly disappointing.  Brooke has been playing out the Addie/Doug/Julie storyline over and over again, as if at some point the writers think that viewers will either become immune to the betrayal and deal with it, or as if the superficial betrayal will somehow become something magical.  Currently, in place of Bridget, we have Katie – the sister Brooke raised as if Katie were her own.  It is sadly no better.

Brooke not only betrayed Katie, but refused to take responsibility for it, or to have Bill take responsibility and faulted Katie for their actions.  Note that neither Brooke nor Bill were so confident that what they’d done was right that they celebrated and told her about it.  They continued to hide their actions – suggesting that something was truly heinous about their affair.  They didn’t openly fight to be together.  They hid and lied.  When history repeats itself as often as it does here, viewers have to wonder if a character, as envisioned by the writers, is capable of growth.

BnB KaRi Valentine3

That is sadly the place I find myself.  I could never hate Brooke for who she was.  I just don’t love Brooke for who she is, now.

I may, one day, become a Brooke fan, again.  I do know that it won’t happen because of a pairing for the character with a hot male lead.  Those parings are often too messy, too sloppy, and they have turned Brooke from the wide-eyed innocent girl who fell in love with a dream, to a woman who has her eyes wide-shut so that she can avoid looking at the destruction in her path, destruction of the women who have loved her and trusted her most.  I don’t care about the conflict she’s had with Macy, Taylor, or anyone else.  That’s just the path soap romances take – the battle for love.  There is a line to avoid crossing, and I see BnB writers as having crossed it one too many times..  Katherine Kelly Lang is a remarkable actress who breathes life into Brooke with as much vigor as is possible for an actress to give.  What she can’t do is give Brooke a “soul”.  That trick is left to the writers and as I view it, BnB writers are determined to deny Brooke that.  I am determined to not cheer on her continued destruction.

If Brooke becomes the loving matriarch of the Logan-Forrester clans she was meant to become – battling back threats while keeping her family in tact, I’m with her.  If her only contribution is one more messy affair, and one more after that?  Been there, done that, burned the t-shirt.  I will mourn this once great character and find interest in whatever else the BnB has to offer.