National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month

April is National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.  Watching soaps today, alone,  would make you question, 1 –  whether writers were aware of the  significance of this month, 2 – if they would care if they were aware of it.  According to RAINN, every 2 minutes someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted.   Click the RAINN symbol to learn more about SAAP month, and to find events taking place in your local area. Today, on almost every soap left on air, a woman was nearly sexually assaulted, emotionally assaulted, or physically assaulted – almost none for the sake of furthering a discussion about sexual and other violent assaults.  Almost all for the sake of ‘entertainment’.  Check the ratings, writers, we – your primarily female audience, are not amused or entertained by such storylines.

1.  Days of Our lives. I’ve thought of EJ as a coward for quite a long time.  Today’s episode just made things a heck of a lot worse.  If your father is a murderous psychopath and you’re quickly following in his footsteps, then it makes sense that you don’t care to protect your partner in crime from your father’s tyrannical wrath.   It makes you appear to be less human, as well.   Too busy trying to cover his own arse, EJ has made no moves to stop others from thinking of Anna as a vile kidnapper who tormented a  young infant girl for months after she’d already lost the only mother she’d ever known.    If you were watching today’s episode, you witnessed Stefano Dimera, EJ’s father, physically assault his former daughter-in-law, his deceased son’s wife.  Tony might have killed Stefano for slapping his wife.

The excuse is supposed to be, I’m sure, that Stefano had no idea that Anna wasn’t alone in kidnapping his granddaughter when he slapped her.   My response?  WHO CARES!?!?!  She as alone, half dressed and defenseless against him and the goons he brought with him.  That scene was heartbreaking from beginning to end.   It was in fact EJ, the child’s father, who concocted the scheme and convinced Anna to become his partner in crime.  It was his son EJ, who got the ‘bright’ idea to cover the child’s clothing in blood and make everyone think the infant had been murdered.  Will Stefano slap him across the face?  Will he have his son dragged off with threats of death?  Is that behavior reserved only for women ‘who have it coming’?

While EJ sat home, basking in the glow of being complimented for being a ‘great dad’, Anna was being slapped around, manhandled by Stefano’s goons, and had to plead for her life, as Stefano promised her that she would not be alive  much longer.  DAYS has done a lot of things right, but  this was dead wrong and made it clear how parasitic the Dimera men’s relationships with women are.  EJ professes love, two children later, to the woman he raped at gunpoint, and while he sat with her  trying to convince her he was a new man, Anna faced violence and certain death.

2.  The Bold and the Beautiful. I watched the last 10 minutes of the show, today – apparently ten minutes too many!  It was a continuation of Donna Logan Forrester being treated as if she was disposable by her husband, Eric Forrester.  This follows an earlier discussion in which he screamed at her in front of his ex wife and his former sister-in-law (both of whom have attacked Donna physically and verbally).  Earlier he’d faulted Donna for never being on his side – a full-throated lie.  He’s clearly ‘finished’ with Donna and finds excuses to scream and yell at her, including faulting Donna  for her brother-in-law’s partnership with his WILLING ex-wife, who helped weaken his company before Bill Spencer bought it out from from under him.  Eric accepts no responsibility for being a lousy businessperson.  He also gives Donna ZERO credit for being willing to deceive her own sister to help him get his company back.  He screams at her, demeans her, and then she returns home to beg for his forgiveness for not being tolerant enough of his needs.  If she was a friend of mine in a marriage like that, I would be advising her on thinking about how to get out of it, or at least  how to protect herself from a man like Eric Forrester.

3.  One Life to Live. Schuyler Joplin has been just about as perfect a man as one can be in daytime.  He’s thoughtful, loving, kind, and patient… which means that when he had to be torn down to prop the show’s resident snooze producing couple – the writers took the lowest possible  route to try to make him unlikable to fans.  His soap day started with him being  a loving father who only wanted the best for his child.  He finds out the child he’s been loving isn’t his and just a few hours later he’s holding Gigi Morasco hostage at gunpoint, trying to force her to undress so  they can have sex and he could prove to her that they still have a special relationship.  He doesn’t want to be alone.

Pretty.Damned.Pathetic.

Soaps use to write rape storylines to  sway fans’ sympathy in the direction of ‘bad girls who needed redeeming’.  Now they use rape as a way of trying to sway fans’ ire at male characters they want to get rid of — most of the time.  Sometimes they decide that the rapist isn’t all that bad and try to redeem him or try to get the audience to accept his attempt to get his victim to fall in love with him.  It’s that sort of  clumsy and careless storytelling that makes soap fans ashamed of the genre.

4.  General Hospital. Kristina, after ignoring Ethan’s pleas to not allow the entire town, most especially her murderous mob father, believe that he’d beaten her up- as he was innocent – was beaten again today by her boyfriend, Kiefer.  I’d watched DAYS’ Anna being slapped around, DAYS’ Sami talking about her lovelife with her rapist,  OLTL’s Gigi held at gunpoint and potentially raped, BnB’s Donna beg forgiveness for being treated poorly, and then Kristina.  I am emotionally drained and most especially because it’s clear that daytime writers still don’t get it.

As usual, the storyline hasn’t been about this poor teenage girl who is being harmed, it’s about the adults around her – her mother who took the time to run down her attacker with her car while on the way to the hospital to get help for Kristina, her angry mob boss father, Ethan -the wrongfully accused… but very little about the survivor.

I’m hoping we’ll see more of Kristina, in therapy to learn that it’s not her fault she’s been attacked, or that we’ll get to see her confront Kiefer and make him realize how badly he’s hurt her.  As I’ve written about before, it would be best to see HIM in therapy – helping him figure out why he’s so violent towards  women.

Soaps do a lot with the ‘assault’ part, nothing much with the  ‘prevention’.   Were women victims of assault and violence on the other two soaps?  Probably, I’m just glad I missed it – I’ve had more than my fill in just a single day.  It’s depressing.

Nobody Does It Better: Look and Learn

It’s not often that I actually praise a soap in its entirety.  OLTL is good, and I enjoy more of the show than I dislike of it… but it’s not GREAT.  Which soap is, in my opinion?  Hands down,  Days of Our Lives has to be the best overall soap in daytime!  It’s such a great soap that the things I hate about it are the things you’re SUPPOSED to hate about a soap or about the show’s characters.   What makes DAYS such a great soap?  Two words:  consistency and BALANCE!

What can drive you crazy about some soaps (YnR, BnB, and GH) is that they lack balance.  On the Bell soaps especially, the soap winds blow in only one direction.  Either most characters are happy, or they’re all miserable.  Bell soaps are tragic drama… minus the drama.  Can you think of a week in which BnB spoilers didn’t suggests that a ‘couple would be torn apart’?  Can you think of  a week, on the BnB especially, in which characters weren’t uttering dialogue that is deeply inconsistent from the week before?  How does Thorne Forrester shift from being tired of always being thought of as a last place loser in his family, to applauding having his ex-sister-in-law/former fiancee becoming a quarter owner in his FAMILY’S company?  The YnR?  Between the cancer storyline, the switched identities, Ashley having yet another breakdown, and the dead-for-live baby swap, watching the YnR could counteract the strongest prescribed anti-depressant.  GH?  There’s hope for the show… just very little of it.  GH may as well have been taped in a dark studio, with night vision cameras.   Given how heavy the show is, the change in lighting couldn’t possibly hurt.  For these three soaps, it’s the same stuff, different day.

One Life to Live,  All My Children and As The World Turns are shows that have balance, but lack consistency.  The storylines change too quickly and by the time you become use to the direction of a storyline, it changes gear – in some  cases that’s a good thing.  I don’t know how many more months of Dorian knuckling under to Mitch Lawrence’s demands I could stand.  Another week of JPL’s ‘Rex’ trying to emote as a ‘troubled and angry’ man and I really would have needed stitches from laughing.  What was the point of introducing Allison Perkins?  On ATWT, the ‘spare tissue’ pregnancy Janet suggested and was then shot down almost immediately?  EH!  (and who doesn’t already know that Janet will end up pregnant, anyway?)  There’s a lot going on with the three shows above, but it’s almost as if the writers are overwhelmed and aren’t keeping track of who said what, and when.

While DAYS held on far too long to the ‘Sydnapping’ storyline, overall, the fact that the show has been consistent and balanced allowed fans, like myself, who were tired of the storyline to focus on something else.  Knowing, last month, that the storyline would continue a while longer, I began tuning it out and focusing on other big onscreen news.  I don’t know what it is about ‘Daniel’ and ‘Melanie’, but I think it’s sheer genius to pair them together as father and daughter (and yes, I’ve been reminded that she once flirted with him when neither knew they were related).  Something about his presence in her life finishes Mel’s character profile out nicely.  She’s been two characters in one during her tenure at DAYS. There is the manipulating and selfish Mel, and then there is the vulnerable and melancholy Mel.  In some ways he softens Mel, but she does the same for him.  Shawn Christian (as Daniel) hit his stride perfectly in the hospital visitation  scenes, after finding out that Melanie was his child.  His eyes were soft and a bit weepy, his tone of voice was relaxed, and it was easy to believe that he was in awe of the young woman in front of him, one he’d only recently found carried his genes in her DNA.  That he was the doctor who operated on her and saved her life made the scene all the more meaningful.  Melanie  looked vulnerable and frail and in need of someone to protect her.  He looked ready for the job. Priceless.

And if it must be mentioned…

The kidnapping storyline is done, sorta’.  Anna will finally wise up and realize that EJ is capable of using and abusing anyone, until he no longer needs them, and she’s included in that number.  When he’s done with you, you’re on  your own.  Too bad for EJ  (but great for fans) that Anna isn’t a willing victim.  For those of you who don’t know (spoiler alert, stop reading here… I warned ya’!), it’s Anna who will make sure that Nicole is freed of all charges and allowed to resume her life in Salem.  Ej, you schmuck!  You had it coming.  So the question is, with Nicole’s return, how does EJ get busted for the kidnapping of his infant daughter?

1.  Rafe, hottie hot hot, to the rescue?  Rafe figures it all out and makes sure Sami knows what a low life EJ is?  Sami tends to forget that fact of life when she allows EJ to play on her desperation.

2.  Nicole is redeemed, to a degree, by joining forces with Brady and they bring the news to Sami and Rafe?  Sorry Arianne Hernandez, with Nicole’s return, I’m hoping your DAYS are numbered… Phillip will probably be free soon – give him a call.

3.  A dark horse candidate emerges.  Stefano learns from Anna – who is by now hiding out in a bunker and out of Dimera reach, about EJ’s dastardly plan.  He realizes that his son was willing to hurt him in among the worst ways possible and decides to deal with EJ his own way…by throwing him to the wolves!

I’m partial to the third option.  I’d love to see Stefano strip Ej of his money and power.  DAYS’ writers have been relatively creative in their storytelling.  What could they do with a powerless EJ, who no longer has the ability to manipulate and/or offend the women of Salem?  The writers could continue to move EJ on to the next storyline but in the end  what good would it do if Ej isn’t completely deconstructed and rebuilt?  He’s currently an (evil) freakshow!  What would life look like from the other side, a man without resources at the mercy of the power brokers?  Nothing could give him greater insight into what his negative influence has been over others  than having him fend for himself against the next ‘Ej Dimera’.  His deconstruction could also lead him to find real love for the first time, a woman he doesn’t have to force to have sex with him.

Other DAYS questions:

Can Chloe and Daniel survive his strong-willed adult daughter?  Chloe isn’t too much older than Melanie and she may not think his penchant for younger women is so cute now that she can’t date him (and excuse me… EWWWW!)   At some point, Melanie will most likely forgive Carly for allowing Lawrence to give her away and leave her at the mercy of her adoptive father.  When she does, will she want to see her parents together and fulfill a childhood fantasy of having a mother and father who love her and are part of a complete and  loving family?

Will the writers break up Phillip and Melanie for Nathan and Melanie, or will Melanie begin to realize that she does love Phillip.  I’m on Team Nathan, but I do think it would be a more interesting storyline to have Phillip be a ‘good guy’ who genuinely loves Mel and wants to save his marriage to her without resorting to going to his ‘dark place’ to make it happen.  The best triangles keep you rooting for everyone involved.

With Hope defending Bo and asserting that he is (professionally) an ethical man, will Bo begin to realize that he may be professionally ethical but that he’s lacking personally?  For most of their adult lives, Hope has been defending their marriage against each of Bo’s new ‘great loves’ and any children that are born or resurface as a result.    He has yet to have to do the same because she has centered her life around him.  Is there some point in his life when he realizes that he’s taken more from his marriage than he’s ever given to Hope?

I could do this all day with Days of Our Lives.  Each storyline offered is one that poetnitally generates an entirely new group of storylines.  Days writers thank you for the use of both veterans balanced against the introduction of newbies.  My only criticism… Abe… Lexie… MORE please!   DAYS is the only show consistently posting large gains in viewership over the year before.  Daytime writers… watch… learn… emulate!

DAYS: Mickey Horton/EJ DiMera, emphasis on DiMera

Before discussing the EJ issue, I’d like to them to say:

Good bye, Mickey Horton

(and I hope John Clarke is happy with Mickey’s send off).

Suzanne Rogers, you help to give the show it’s heart.  I hope you’ll stay with us for whatever time is left for the daytime serial.

Thank you, Days writers, for the decades of love and compassion you allowed Mickey and Maggie to bring to screen and share with the rest of us.

Click HERE for a link to a Mickey Horton Tribute site.

On to EJ DiMera, Emphasis on DiMera

Anyone reading this blog for longer than a week knows that I pretty much despise EJ DiMera.  He’s among the lowest form of soap life around, in my book.  Having said that, I LOVE the twist in the kidnapping story.  So EJ was Anna’s accomplice?  It just make sense, even if I didn’t see it coming!  Very clever DAYS writers.  So many writers claim they’re writing mysteries that will shock and amaze fans.   You actually pulled it off.   There’s a lot of good potentially coming out of this storyline.  There are also some problems with EJ’s actions beyond the fact that he’s a kidnapper.  Let me  start with the things that concern me before I tell you what I love about this plot.

The big concerns (EJ/Ejami fans, you may want to skip this):

EJ  threatened poor Faye Walker (Nicole’s mother).

He manhandled Ari Hernandez (Rafe’s sister).  He far to abusive with women.  Only a coward behaves with women the way he does.

He’s fought with Rafe.

He accused Sami of being a bad mother.

He framed Kate and his father for kidnapping.

He had Nicole physically harmed and then jailed for something she didn’t do.

He raised hell with the Salem PD and anyone else who would listen.

All of the above would be classic deflection and brilliant scheming AND make me  fall completely in love with the villain responsible for such evil machinations if it weren’t for one small factor.  EJ was merely victimizing Sami all over again!  How many times  does this man get to victimize her before the writers have her finally cut ties with him?  Isn’t it time to conduct new DNA tests and sever the blood ties Sami’s children currently have with EJ?  Shouldn’t Johnny be Lucas’ child?  The writers could certainly find a way to make Sydney ANYONE but EJ’s kid.  Geez, folks!  Nothing good comes from keeping Sami in the same room with EJ for longer than a minute.  She’s trapped by circumstance.  She shares children with a loon who manipulates her and hurts her repeatedly, for his own amusement.  EJ is sadly sadistic.

So what’s the outcome?  He forces Sami to marry him (or rather has Anna do it) before Sydney can be returned?   He gets her into bed, again?  Has he ever been able to do that without a weapon or without manipulating her?  Is he going to torment Sami until she snaps and then he takes custody of all of her children?  He sets Rafe up to be murdered when Rafe tries to recover Sydney? EJ swoops in to save Sydney in order to impress Sami?  It’s possible that his series of actions are all about undermining Rafe as a partner, as much as they are about punishing Sami, or manipulating her into relying on him.

I don’t want to see them together as a couple – she’s still the woman he raped.  The fact that the writers tried to bury her rape and have her ‘get over it’ to try to force the audience into buying this lackluster couple bears no weight with me.   In fact, the kidnapping storyline strengthens my resolve that Sami should NEVER be with him – their relationship has never been based on anything other than her victimization.  Ej enjoys Sami’s pain far  too much.  It’s too late to undo the damage done in forcing Sami and EJ together.

What I like

This storyline is a shot in the arm to the long drawn out kidnapping fiasco.  Without Ari Zuker’s (Nicole’s) participation in this storyline, it had become little more than an expensively produced sleeping pill… until now!

I’m actually curious about what happens next. It would be great if the writers allowed Sami to be the person to put the pieces of Sydney’s kidnapping together.   I’d love for her to get Sydney back and recognize the scent of EJ’s cologne on the child’s toys and clothing.  Maybe she remembers the sound of a toy in the background during a call from EJ.   She could then set a trap for him, one that leads to his arrest and punishment (whatever that means on this show).  Let it be the beginning of Sami cleansing herself of the hell EJ’s brought into her life.   For all of EJ’s anger at Nicole, his  actions are far worse than hers in my book.  Nicole gave him the chance to know the child Sami planned to give away (still wrong).  EJ has taken a child Sami held in her arms, one she loves, just to torment her.  He is one heartless bastard (which in daytime can be a good thing;  where good = interesting).

We know that most soap characters will never do jail time no matter how heinous the crime  unless the actors portraying them need release time or are leaving their shows for good.  I’m guessing that this storyline was designed to lead to a huge custody battle between Sami and EJ, rather than EJ wearing a matching orange jumper with Nicole.  His desperation to save his rights as a father could lead him to him rely on his father’s help, despite the fact that he may not want to. Will the reunited DiMera men lead a brand new reign of terror in Salem?  That leaves Kate in a pretty strange predicament.  Either Kate would join them – or she would at least allow them to believe she was joining them and secretly work against them if Phillip – through Stephanie, decided to help Sami.  In a war of any kind against the DiMeras,  I could see Victor supporting Phillip  and joining ‘Team Sami”.  He wouldn’t join them because he cares – that’s not who our Victor is.  He’d do it to help get the upper hand on the DiMeras in business by keeping them distracted in the courtroom.  The  Kiriakis-DiMera feud could continue for generations, but don’t worry soap fans.  DAYS will last long enough for you to watch it all unfold.  With  SORASing, great great grandchildren on both sides will be joining the Kiriakis and DiMera matriarchs and patriarchs, in heading into the fray by next Spring!

Too much?  You could be right, and if you are, the writers’ focus could (and should) just as easily be in reconstituting the Brady clan.  A custody battle would be a perfect opportunity to bring the Bradys back together and strengthen the family bond.   Sami has been too passive for far too long when it comes to EJ.  It’s time to unleash the real Sami Brady and watch her lead her family in protecting her children.  Watch out, EJ!  Sami shot the last man who violated her, right in his zipper.  You could be next, and you’re a repeat offender!

EJ vs. JS

While I have no love for EJ, James Scott is a powerful actor who brings so much to DAYS.  I wish the writers would hang up their ratings killing  ‘EJami’ obsession and let this character flourish without the baggage of that storyline.  They can never undo what’s happened between Sami and Ej, so why not let EJ feel true remorse and move on with his life?

His rivalry with Phillip was fun, before it became muderous.  Revive the rivalry.  Let these sons of privilege have a (somewhat) honest but brutal corporate battle.  Doesn’t Victor have a niece who wants to come to town and help run the family business?  EJ is too easily use to being around women he can dominate – he gets that from his father.  What happens if he meets a woman who isn’t afraid of him, who doesn’t think he’s ‘just dreamy’, and who’s capable of serving his backside on a silver platter?  When he’s truly realized the horrors of his past actions with women and is finally redeemed and ready to move forward,  he and Victor’s niece could be a part of a modern Romeo and Juliet storyline – minus the tragedy.  I’d like to see JS transform EJ into a truly viable romantic lead at some point in the future,  though  I’d love for EJ’s life to be about more than the women in it and what he does to them.  Scott  has the ability to play a far more complex character than he’s been allowed to play.  As a DAYS fan, I feel cheated that he’s limited to the role he’s currently playing.