Two More Soaps are Down/The Guessing Game

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 Most of you have heard or read, by now, that  U.S. soaps are one step closer to being a part of our American past.  I have been saying for some time that I wish that the powers that be (TPTB) at the networks would either fix daytime or kill it off, but that anything in between is unfair to fans, and a clear disrespect for the genre.  I am not celebrating the loss of All My Children and One Life To Live.  In fact, it saddens me for two reasons.  The first is that I believe that both shows were a damned sight better than General Hospital and were far more ‘history rich’ in their current forms than GH.  The second is that I believe that both shows could have lasted years longer if ABC had the courage to infuse the genre with new writers and executive producers/energetic writers and executive producers who would have respected the genre’s history, but not become bogged down in the repetitive storyline telling, and the lack of attention to detail that drove fans away.

AMC and OLTL were the ‘class acts’ of daytime, and to lose these two shows won’t  improve the chances of the remaining shows to survive by picking up their audiences.  The loss of these two shows will only serve to illuminate how much weaker the plots and plot devices of the remaining shows are.

The Young and the Restless:  The actress replacing Drucilla (whose name I’m not even motivated to look up) once gave an interview stating that most Drucilla fans were fans of the show first, not of the character.  Uh… ok.  She also stated that she wasn’t hired to create a character to replace Dru… and how’s that workin’ for ya?  Where is the character she plays now?  In Dru’s old storyline… pregnant, by one of the Winters brothers and she’s not exactly sure which.  Adam, who burned a fetus in a damned fireplace, never giving its mother the chance to grieve its loss is a romantic hero, involved with a woman whose child he stole.  Go. AWAY!

The Bold and the Beautiful Where to begin?  There are so many problems with this show that between it and DOOL, that either could be the next to go (yeah, even over GH)!  I wish Bell’s ‘bad girls’ weren’t so one-dimensional, like Steffy and her faux ‘good girl’ mother, Taylor- who is as much a daytime bitch as ever there was one.  Both Steffy and Taylor highlight the weakness of Bell’s writing for bad girl characters.  I miss the real bad girls, women with a method to their madness and whose actions were explained through their backstory (pain, unhappiness, abuse, abandonment). You always knew that their desperate actions were about fighting back in the only way they knew how and it left you hating them and loving them at the same time. Steffy is just a selfish, pampered, snotty little girl who thinks life owes it to her to give her whatever she wants – even after having such a privileged life and a father who sacrificed his happiness for hers.

Her constant attempt to draw a distinction between herself and the ‘human trash from the valley’ makes her as useless as her grandmother. Most soap bad girls didn’t offer the social class argument for their superiority and since social class is the only type of class Steffy has – any argument she makes in her favor is moot. She is everything she despises in others… the ultimate hypocrite.

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Steffy’s character lacks depth and a backstory gives definition to her character.

She’s just mean, nasty, and whiny-bitchy instead of fun bitchy. It’s this sort of anemic storytelling that’s killed so much of daytime and makes the genre unwatchable.

Days Of Our Lives Rape is NOT SEXY!  EJ? NOT SEXY! I don’t care how attractive EJ’s portrayer James Scott is.  JS is not EJ, and EJ is a rapist with no redeeming qualities.  His sole mission in life it to own and manipulate the woman he raped, to control her life and to continue to impregnate her through violence and/or deceit.   I gave up on this show a very long time ago.  DOOL, and EJ as a character, are better suited to a soap titled, “The Land that Time Forgot”.    The titled references a book, screenplay, and several movies.  Why not a soap?  Women are smarter, better educated, focused on informing themselves and their daughters and sons about sexual assault — yet, sexual assault is still the foundation for romance and ‘good times’ on Days of our Lives.  Not.  good.

General Hospital Need I say more?  Nice guys really DO finish last.  OLTL and AMC focused on family ties, the ups and downs of relationships, and in the end the mob boys and weak guest appearances win out.  Sorry, James Franco fans, I thought GH’s artist Franco sucked and that the actor treated the character as a caricature.  His vision of what a soap character was supposed to be left me cringing and I was shocked that TPTB backstage allowed it to happen.

Daytime writers and executives of the four remaining shows have to become more protective of the genre.  They have to remember daytime’s illustrious history and send the remaining four shows out as a bright flame, and not sending it up as a weak puff of smoke.  They owe the fans no less.

Oddly enough,  I was a daytime fan who, when this blog began as a column for  Darcy Fourier’s “The Soapscope” website, watched more daytime than primetime television.  My primetime viewership was nearly non-existent.   When I became disenchanted with daytime, I switched to primetime viewership almost exclusively.  Even still, I will miss soaps for lots of reasons, but primarily for their history in total.  I can’t say that  I will  soaps in their current incarnation, I hated and still hate most of what’s airing in daytime.  I will miss daytime for what it was, and for the missed opportunity to make it something great, again.  I’m not interesting in more daytime talk, more scripted reality, or more game shows and can’t imagine their appeal over even the worst of daytime dramas, much less the best of it.  To the Cast and Crew at All My Children and One Life to Live, thank you for the decades of memories.  You are irreplaceable and you will be missed.

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Daytime’s worst psychiatrist: Or why the BnB is a little like watching porn

You’re probably thinking of DAYS’ Marlena Evans.  In her defense we should remember that when Marlena was a venom-spewing cold-hearted, mean- spirited psych0, she was possessed by the devil.   The ‘Worst Psychiatrist’ award goes to someone who is supposed to be ‘healthy’, and has yet to show a reasonable example of good mental health.  For my money, The BnB’s Taylor Hayes tops the list of daytime’s professional mental health  malcontents.   While daytime demeans the work of almost all individuals in all professions, you’d think that daytime writers would be more careful about the portrayals of those in the helping professions.

Instead, police officers are ‘stupid’ and never catch real criminals – unless the guilty are  recurring characters or day players.   Nurses are typically women who are looking to move up the social ladder by latching on to a hot eligible physician, or his married  successful ‘businessman’ brother/father – all of whom are  usually womanizers (how very 1960s).  Mental Health professionals typically need more help than they’re capable of dispensing.

Which brings us back to Taylor Hayes.

It makes sense to me that the writers have penned the new Forrester Creations campaign ‘Hope for the Future’.   Near death experiences, actual death, Alzheimer’s, sexual assault, physical attack, lost love, miscarriages,  public humiliation, you name it and the Logans have experienced it.  Those experiences have made them stronger,and  they push forward after their greatest calamities, continuing to love life and rebuild from what’s left – seeking happiness along the way.  It’s why they resonate with fans in a way the writers haven’t been able to understand as they’ve tried to push them to the margins as the show’s bad girls, but not being able to take the audience along for the ride.  We see them for who they are and the term  ‘bad girls’ doesn’t describe them adequately.  It doesn’t describe them at all.

The Logan women are a lot like many of the viewers who’ve been knocked for a loop on occasion and have had to fight their way back up.  Many soap fans have had to bootstrap after losing someone they love, a home they cared for, children who weren’t theirs by blood- but by deed.  In real life, you do it without complaining about how horrible life is, or moaning that you’re a victim.  So, we have very little patience for people who do pretty stupid things and then whine that they were the victims of others.  We don’t like those who can’t take responsibility for their bullspittle, especially when they keep piling it higher and deeper – or when they fling it at others .

While the writers reveled in the ‘mean girls’ storyline this past year with Stephanie and Taylor plotting to destroy Brooke and Ridge’s happiness, viewers most likely remembered the ‘mean girls’ in their own lives who spent more time tearing others down rather than building themselves up.   These mean girls aren’t ‘pretty’ women frustrated by boredome.  They’re not ‘smart’.  They’re not even likable.  They’re just mean.   Every time Stephanie ‘mean girl’ Douglas, Taylor ‘mean girl’ Hayes, and now Steffy ‘mean girl’ Forrester-Marone starts attacking the Logans as ‘whores and sluts’ with no redeeming value, they remind us of who they are at their core.

The writers can try to tell us that they are women of good character, but the picture they paint through the characters’ actions tell a different story.  I find myself doing one of two things when they’re on, lately – turning the channel or muting the sound.  What can they say that tthey haven’t already said a million times before?  The writers aren’t even creative at coming up with new ways for this legion of doom and gloom to refer to the Logans as ‘cheap’.

Taylor is the worst of the ‘mean girls’ legion for the obvious reason.  She’s supposed to know better!  As a psychiatrist, she’s supposed to be the one who helps her children realize that their irrational fears  are no threat to them.  Her job as a mother, if nothing else, is to help  them become better  and happier people.  For Taylor to encourage Steffy’s asinine sniveling over the ‘Forresters vs. the Logans’ is a true travesty.   At one time, she considered herself  ‘another mother’ to Brooke’s children, and taunted Brooke with that view.  After having taken a huge  Oedipal leap into Rick’s arms, and into his bed, taylor has decided that Brooke’s children are ‘the enemy’ and that Brooke’s children are replacing her children at Forrester Creations and in Ridge’s heart.  She’s decided that it’s ok for her to encourage discord in the Logan-Forrester household by supporting Steffy’s delusions of entitlement and calls to hatred.  She’s doing exactly what Brooke’s accused her of doing, helping to spread poison to the next generation.  Stephanie Douglas couldn’t do it with her own children – who had no quarrel with the Logans, so she created a ‘proxy’ in taylor who helped pick up the call to arms.

If your son is a car bomber, your daughter slept with her ‘uncle’ and is now foolish enough to think that her ‘sweet sweet lovin’ will make a billionaire give back the family company he stole – if she could only get him away from his wife – you might not want to encourage  volatile levels of uncontrollable rage in your children.  You might remind them that while they’re screaming about being ‘outnumbered’, there are actually more Forresters than Logans and even then it doesn’t matter.  You might want to remind them that the children they’re railing against are as much part of the ‘Forrester clan’ as they are – given the fact that their biological father is not a biological Forrester – but  a biological Marone.  Ridge is a Forrester out of love, as are Brooke’s children.  You might want to remind your children that if they pull together as a family – they’re stronger, and more likely to kick Bill Spencer’s butt out of the company.  Rather than helping her children step outside of their self-pity and other- loathing, Taylor would rather encourage them to despise their own siblings.

This storyline has shown us why taylor will never be anything more than window dressing.   She’s a club the writers pull out of the closet to hit the Logans over the head with, and then put away.  The writers don’t care to give her depth, and that’s the real tragedy of the Bold and the Beautiful wasting the fan’s time with a gravely unbalanced show.  Given the fact that the BnB is the second highest rated show in daytime and the most watched soap in the world, I would expect more from the writing.  For  whatever reason the BnB’s dialogue writers have remained the weakest in the field for my money.  I don’t know if their hands are routinely tied by the head writer or if they’ve figured out that the BnB has survived almost purely on the shock value of its plots, and that the dialogue may not matter.

Whatever the issue, watching the BnB is like eating empty calories.  Sure, it’s a thrill at the moment, but when it’s over, you’re still hungry and a little less healthy for the trouble.  I’ve always maintained that the BnB should be the most watched soap in the U.S., as well.  It has all the elements: great production values, iconic actors and characters,  fabulous costuming whenever wardrobe is prevented from going too wild, and a neverending supply of lust filled story arcs.  Lust filled?  WAIT!  Forget the ’empty calories’ analogy.  Watching The Bold and The Beautiful is more like watching soft core porn.

I don’t watch porn, but I understand what it is.  Lots of sex, weak plots, incomplete dialogue that does little more than lead the characters to the path of lots of sex?  Why is that NOT like the BnB?

Rather than make the Logans  passive (which the writers treat the same as passive),  and willing to take all the crap the mean girls throw at them, why not allow them, and those who love them,  to respond with a truth meant to break the mean girl delusions?

Examples?

Steffy:  The Logans are taking over this place!  There’s no room for REAL Forresters.

Rick:  You mean Forresters  like Bridget, Felicia, Thorne, Kristen, their children and Me? Since our father is Eric Forrester and YOUR father  is a Marone?  What else do you have to say about REAL Forresters, Steffy?

*****

Stephanie:  You stole my husband you BITCH!

Brooke:  Sure, because you were happily married before I came along… unless you’ve forgotten that Eric was engaged to my mother after he left you, he dated a slew of Forrester models, and didn’t tell me he loved me until AFTER he was done with you for good – you hateful spiteful miserable self-deluding liar.

I didn’t steal your husband, you pushed him away with your hatred and he did the rest by refusing to allow you to draw him back in.  You blame me for losing him, but you haven’t explained why he turned to every other woman in L.A. BUT you when we were no longer together.  It’s time you stopped blaming me and started looking at why Eric has chosen everyone but you!

and then she walks away!

*****

Taylor:  RIDGE!  our children feel unloved.  They feel replaced and you’re not doing anything to make them feel better.

Ridge:  No taylor, YOU’RE not doing anything to make them feel better.  My relationship with our children hasn’t changed.  Why would you encourage them to believe that they have to fight to be loved?  What’s in it for YOU?  When will you put our children first?

*****

Steffy to Thomas:  If only I could get Bill away from Katie.  I could get him to give the company back.

Hope (who overhears them):  That trust fund you freely spend?  My mother and father’s hard work put that money in your account.  My mother made this company the success it was when she ran it, one of the most successful fashion houses in the history of the business.   She’s forgotten more about this business than you’ll ever  know, Steffy.

The next time you even think of calling my mother a whore, think about the fact that the only contribution you have to offer the company requires you to get on your back to do it.

And SCENE!

Wouldn’ t it be grand to have the mean girl characters get back the hell they give back to others?  We instead get BnB porn:

Steffy to Brooke:  You’re a whore.

Ridge to Brooke:  She made you feel bad?  (Disrobes her) let me make you feel better.

Taylor to Rick:  I’ve lost my child.  I had to give him away.

Rick to Taylor (as he disrobes her):  Let me make it better.
See? No logical response.  No exchanged heated enough to burn the remote out of your hands making it impossible to change the channel.    Bad psychiatry and almost-porn.  If you like either, you’d LOVE the BnB.