Out on a limb with Otalia and The Guiding Light

As much as it pains me to say it, I may be done with Otalia.  I don’t know if that’s what the writers want and I’m just being a great big sucker for giving it to them.  Maybe I’m just tired of most of daytime and this current Otalia storyline is hitting my hot buttons.  Once Jessica Leccia returns from maternity leave and I see Otalia back onscreen together, it’s possible that all will be forgiven, and that I will be back to rooting for them.  For now?  Not so much.

GL writers seem to be completely unable to tell a compelling storyline.  Is  it the writers?  The executive producer blocking the way to good storyline telling?  The CBS Execs?  The way JessicaL’s Natalia was temporarily written out for maternity leave sucks – deeply sucks – sucks so bad that it makes ATWT’s writing out Carly Tenney to cover Maura West’s maternity leave look brilliant.  What does THAT tell you? Clearly, the problems with Natalia’s decision to abandon Olivia once she realizes she’s pregnant with Frank’s baby is indicative of the problems GL has been experiencing under Wheeler’s guidance.   First, who DIDN’T know that this would turn into another Susan/Ross/Carol (Friends) storyline?  Who DIDN’T know the writers would force an ‘eternal’ triangle and ‘forced family’ with Frank/Natalia/Olivia, rather than let Otalia just be happy together?  Second, this storyline takes me back to what I didn’t like about Natalia when she was first introduced.  She was introduced as a weak, whiny, mealy-mouthed character, desperate for love.  She stood in the shadows, afraid, insecure, making one bad decision after another that everyone around her had to pay for as she whined ‘poor me’.  Our Lady of Perpetual Pain.  Sheeeeee’s back!

I enjoyed the strength Natalia developed over time.  I loved that she’d started growing up and making decisions that improved her life and brought her happiness.   While I think all individuals should become the people they need to be BEFORE entering relationships, sometimes relationships can help change you for the better and that was the gift that Otalia gave one another.

Now?  Watching Olivia hit the road to track down the woman who dashed her hope for happiness and abandoned her just as Liv gained the strength to face the world made me despise Natalia, and the crap offered as entertainment to GL fans.   Listening to Liv cry, watching her scream out in vain for Natalia to come back made me realize that the writers used the Otalia relationship to weaken both characters.   Not only did the old Natalia return, she dragged Liv down to her level.

How lovely would it have been for Liv and Natalia to have been filmed BEFORE JL’s pregnancy to air while she was away?  How lovely it would have been for Liv and Nat to decide to leave town together, for a while.  Frank could be conflicted on what it means to now be a part of this family and want Natalia to take all the time she needed to clear her head.  He, Rafe,  and Liv could have occasionally made the trip to visit Natalia  – maybe with Rafe staying with Natalia to get use to the idea of his mother having another child and to help her and become reacquainted with her again.  Slowly, they would have accepted their lives as they are and become a modern American family.  Taping the scenes ahead of time would have meant no lost scenes for Otalia, or ending this madness with Frank on the outside/no on the inside/no on the outside/whatever. We could have finally had an end to the angry Rafe-monster… but the concept of lost time is one the GL writers and EP are all too familiar with.

More is the pity because now I say… BRING ON DORIS AND OLIVIA!  Who’s afraid of the big bad Wolfe?  Natalia should be!

Ratings and why CBS should reconsider

Despite the suckage that is GL these days, I STILL think the wrong thing to do is cancel this  show!

Courtesy of Soap Opera Network:

Ratings for the week June 22-26, 2009

HH
1. Y&R 3.5/11 (+.1/-.1)
2. B&B 2.3/7 (same/-.2)
3. DAYS 2.1/6 (+.1/+.2)
4. OLTL 1.8/6 (same/-.2) <—— ties low (Last time: 1.8/6 for June 15-19, 2009)
5. AMC 1.7/5 (-.1/-.2) <——– new low (Previous low: 1.8/6 for June 15-19, 2009)
5. GH 1.7/5 (-.1/-.4) <——— new low (Previous low: 1.8/5 for June 15-19, 2009)
7. ATWT 1.6/5 (same/-.3) <—— ties low (Last time: 1.6/5 for June 15-19, 2009)
8. GL 1.4/4 (+.1/-.1)

ABC soaps are falling like a ROCK! It’s not as if GL is doing so poorly in the ratings, in comparison.

FIRE WHEELER.

HIRE better writers. Several of the current writers would do just fine but new leadership is definitely needed and Ms. Wheeler just doesn’t do it for me.

Maybe there’s a way to get ATWT and GL on soapnet (long shot I know). Lifetime might not be interested in producing GL, but would the network be open to airing syndicated eps if CBS continued to produce and air the show?  Could there be a partnership that eased the financial burden for CBS?

Ride this thing out and let GL stick around with the rest of daytime.  I only say that because I’m still sure that ATWT and GL still have room for improvement, in the right hands.

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And so it begins: Otalia/Nuke

Sit down. I have to tell you something and it may be shocking to some of you… most especially those of you who are new to daytime. You’re probably not aware of this, ATWT’s Luke Snyder is gay. GAY, I tell you! NO SERIOUSLY! I’m not making this stuff up! Don’t feel foolish if you don’t already know. It’s been hard to figure out because the writers so rarely allow anyone on screen to mention it. It’s one of the show’s best kept secrets. I mean, they only bring the issue up… pretty much EVERY FREAKIN TIME the guy is on screen. Apparently, the fact that he’s in love with another man and that they’ve had a long term relationship is NOT enough of a clue. I’m starting to think that the writers believe we’re a maze-dull lot, not capable of thinking our way out of a paper bag. That could be true, or they could be projecting. Ouch?

I’ve been longing for a storyline that involves my guy, Luke; a storyline that’s just about him – as a young man moving into the adult world, like Casey, and Allison, and pretty much anyone else before him. As things are shaping up it doesn’t seem to be the case that it’s ever going to happen. Each new storyline is a little bit like the last, with a slight twist.

I want MORE.

I want a storyline in which characters don’t even whisper Luke’s sexuality, or give knowing glances. Let me be clear, I make no pretenses of being an advocate of any sort for gays and lesbians. As a straight woman woman of color, I can only tell you what I prefer in storylines, not whether or not these are the storylines the LGBT community want to have told about Luke and Noah (or even GL’s Liv and Natalia – but more on that, later). I can only tell you that I would be loathe to tune into a daytime program that was still airing storylines about civil rights or if the character of color was still battling rampant racism and trying to adjust to life among those in ‘White America’ as the theme in each and every storyline.. We’re beyond that.

Are we beyond that point in relationship to stories about sexual orientation? Maybe the recent focus on gay and lesbian characters in daytime requires paying more attention to issues of coming out and discrimination of all sorts. I don’t know, but in light of shows like “L word”, “Queer as Folk”, and even “Degrassi: The Next Generation”, it would appear that stories that are multifaceted are equally likely to receive positive fan feedback than three or four years of ‘coming out’ storylines with the exact same characters.

Instead of feeding stereotypes, build a cultural context around them that makes stereotyping irrelevant and anachronistic. Leave stereotyping as a thing of the past, as it should be, and focus on those characters who have moved beyond them.

As a person of color, I understand the need for highlighting activism and focusing on the eternal struggle for human rights, but if that’s the route the writers want to take, then have Luke and Noah take on the marriage issue. It pisses me off, ROYALLY, that ATWT writers have no trouble with storylines about lust and sex and now a half-wit marriage for Liberty and Parker, but can’t figure out what to do with Noah and Luke… color me stunned.

What I see in Luke’s storyline (there’s so little focus on Noah on ATWT – I sometimes forget the poor dear is there) is some of what I see in GL’s Otalia, but to a lesser degree. I’m beginning to get the feeling that the writers on GL are starting to stall the storyline. For several reasons.

1. The most generous explanation is that Jessica Leccia (“Natalia”) is pregnant in real life. She and husband, Brian Malloy, are expecting their first child. The writers may want to wait until after the actress returns from maternity leave to delve more heavily into the Otalia romance.

I can envision a scenario in which, just before Leccia gives birth in real life, Natalia realizes that she has to tell Liv how she feels and then goes away for a while to ‘clear her head’ and come back ready for a relationship. (Or she goes away to clear her head, first, and comes back ready to take her relationship with Liv to the next level).

Given how many times writers have worked around real life pregnancies in other storylines, Leccia’s pregnancy shouldn’t be an issue. Maybe it’s not, I dunno.

2. I began to feel a bit queasy about the issue of Doris Wolfe. What the hell was the point in that? Doris has a ‘coming out’ of her own to deal with – out of the blue? Is there NO creativity in daytime? I can count on one hand how many characters have been openly gay from the start. Everyone else, regardless of age, or life experience, has been closeted. Fuel to the fire? Does every show have to create a closeted ‘anti-gay’ jerk and/or villan character? (Brian, ATWT; Daniel Coulson, self-hating closeted gay male on OLTL… <sigh>)

Now that Doris is one step closer to coming out, will there be a Doris/Liv/Natalia triangle? Will the deliciously ruthless side of Doris appeal to the deliciously ruthless side of Olivia Spencer? Will Doris plot and plan and ruin the Otalia relationship to give herself time to swoop in and claim Liv for herself while Nat ‘hems’ and ‘haws’ about whether or not she should be in love with another woman?

Geez, the more I think about it, the more I like it. Remember the ability Roger Thorpe had to corrupt good women and make them his wicked partner in crime? How about Alan Spaulding and Blake Mahler? Could we have Doris Wolfe and Olivia Spencer rocking Springfield while Natalia is the ‘angel sitting on Liv’s shoulder’, trying to woo her back from the dark side? OH, now THAT could be interesting.

OR

3. Is Doris’ coming out more significant than that? Is it a sign that, despite published reports elsewhere, the writers are reconsidering Otalia? As Josh and Liv flirted, throwing out sexual innuendo so hot my television screen fogged (uh, don’t know how that happened), I had to wonder why that scene was necessary, no matter how terribly sexually exciting! Haven’t we already seen Liv trying to prove her bonafides by hitting on a group of hot young studs, at the SAME BAR? That was only a few weeks back, maybe a month or so. What’s THIS about?

Then the follow up with Doris, in which Liv suddenly starts questioning whether or not she could love a woman, because she STILL loves the power she has over men and the attraction to them. More running away? At this stage of the game?

Maybe it’s nothing, and maybe it’s everything. If the writers think that throwing Otalia to the wolves (get it?) will go unnoticed, they’re wrong. If they think Doris’ offscreen adventures will matter enough for fans and that the ‘closeted adventures of Doris Wolfe’ will replace the Otalia connection, they’re wrong. If they think throwing a Doris/Olivia/Natalia storyline together will get the attention of fans, they’re… ok, they’re not wrong about that as far as I’m concerned. I’d watch, and cheer Nat on all the way!

Again, if those two plot points mean nothing, no biggie. My only point is that I won’t accept a cheap imitation. Ok, and I have a second point: I’m watching you, GL writers, with both eyes!