Leave the Light On!

Love. Drama. Trauma. Marriage. Domestic Violence. Divorce. Death. Birth. Coming of age. Coming Out. Adultery. Commitment. Deception. Lies. Truth. Alcoholism. Drug Use. Mental Illness. Recovery. Religion. Acceptance. Forgiveness. Compassion. Passion.

From the safety and comfort of our homes, Daytime Television has been as instrumental in allowing viewers to explore the above topics, and many more, as any other genre. Sometimes with keen accuracy, other times with an eye on entertainment more than education. We’ve learned from, laughed at, and sometimes recoiled in horror because of, the actions of our favorite daytime characters. We’ve done so for 72 years with The Guiding Light, first on radio, and then for more than fifty years on television. Despite whatever it is CBS’ top brass thinks GL’s current ratings tell them about the show, I think they’re wrong. This is a show that’s finally hit its stride. It’s learned to connect with the audience in a way it hasn’t years. Now is not the time to walk away from this great and historic show.

This obviously isn’t another blog about HOW GL should end. This is a blog about WHY GL should be allowed to continue on and why CBS Daytime Execs should be fighting for this show. The writers have finally reached a winning formula:

1 – Reconnecting with romance. Sadly, daytime television worked a bit too hard at turning itself into a caricature; giving its critics too much of what they thought the genre was about in the first place- indiscriminate sex and hyped melodrama, and too little of what daytime really is (Click here to read more from Patrick Erwin’s blog for surprising reactions to GL’s cancellation). Just as long term fans are reconnecting with GL, the writers have had long term characters reconnect with one another. Longtime sweethearts, lovers, and friends, Phillip and Beth Spaulding are rebuilding their lives and their love one moment at a time. I loved Phillip asking Beth if she was always as funny as she is now. I loved Beth telling Phillip that Lillian (her mother) wasn’t the only one who still loved him, she did too. I love that they are as shy and cautious now as they were when they were teens falling in love for the first time.

The writers also gave us Reva in quite an unexpected predicament, protecting her newborn child from Edmund Winslow. She did exactly what long term fans would expect her to do, she turned to Josh for help. He has always been someone she could rely on — if you allow yourself to forget and forgive the dreaded Cassie years. Why is it all scenes between Reva and Josh creates warm fuzzies for me? Between Reva and Josh’s and Beth and Phillip’s reconnection, adding Remy and Christina, Olivia and Natalia, and Bill and Lizzie, what’s not to love about GL? Now all the writers need to do is need to do is rebuild the Bauer and Lewis clans as they’re begun doing with the Spaulding clan.

2 – The ultimate good guy returns. Otalia turned out to be an unexpectedly great storyline for Frank Dicopoulos! From the moment “Frank Cooper” gave his big speech to Buzz about how everyone gets to find happiness but him, to the moment he consoled Nat for leaving him at the altar, this guy has been on a ROLL and THE ROLE (the role of a lifetime). I think, and I’m not sure I’m ready to admit to this, that I teared up a bit as Frank gave his big speech:

Frank: What’s, what’s going on with you? You seem a little tense. Oh, my God! You lost the rings, didn’t you?

Buzz: No, Frank. It’s Natalia.

Frank: What about her?

Buzz: A tux? She’s a simple person. Simple tastes. A tux. She’d want a tux. You should know better.

Frank: Excuse me. If you have something to say, say it.

Buzz: Frank, how much do you love this woman?

Frank: What kind of question is that? I love her with all of my heart.

Buzz: Do you love her enough to let her go?

Frank: Are you serious? Why would I ever give up on Natalia?

Buzz: Frank, I think Natalia is fantastic. I think you’re a fantastic, believe me, a fantastic couple, but she is a woman that likes to please other people, do things for them. And I think maybe she wants to be the perfect woman for you, to be… have the perfect family that Rafe needs, you as a father…

Frank: Okay, okay, hold on one second. I want those things, too.

Buzz: I just… I think you’re rushing into this.

Frank: Why are you doing this? Don’t you think that this family is entitled to have something good happen to it for a change?

Buzz: Are you sure you’re marrying her… she’s marrying you for the right reasons, you know?

Frank: She loves me.

Buzz: Well, maybe she thinks it’s because she owes you, Frank.

Frank: What are you saying? That no woman could love me for me just being me? Is that what you’re saying?

Buzz: Oh, Frank, I never said that.

Frank: No, no. You don’t have to. You believed Coop could find love, didn’t you?

Buzz: That’s different.

Frank: And what about Harley? Harley, meeting a guy every few years, whatever, you danced at all of her weddings.

Buzz: Oh, come on, please.

Frank: And Marina, Marina, my God, my own daughter, she dated her way right through the most-wanted list until she met Mallet. And you. You found Lillian, and then you screwed that up. But I guess– no, no, no I guess you guys can have all of that, right?

Buzz: Frank, you’re twisting my words now.

Frank: No, I’m not twisting your words. Frank Cooper, I guess Frank Cooper is just going to be a cop who is never going to have a partner for the rest of his life, is he? He’s the guy who is a third wheel at a couples’ table. Right? A guy who’s never busy on Valentine’s Day.

Buzz: Frank.

Frank: He’s that guy, isn’t he, Pop?

Buzz: Frank, Frank, I want you to have the love you deserve.

Frank: Well, I found it, Pop! And I love her. And guess what I’m going to do? I’m going to go to the church, and I’m going to put on this tuxedo right here, and I’m going to get my shot, my shot at true love.

Buzz: Frank, wait.

Frank: That’s what I’m going to do.

Buzz: Frank, wait. Wait. Frank, wait. Look! All right? What kind of woman doesn’t want to see her wedding rings? She didn’t want to see the wedding rings.

Frank: You just couldn’t be happy for me?

I wish the writers hadn’t let it go as far as they did, but reflecting on Frank’s scenes from this past week it may be the case that the storyline had to play out the way it has. Frank stood clueless before Natalia and Olivia and my heart broke for him! He wanted nothing more than to reassure Natalia that he was there for her, to help her get through whatever help she needed. Clearly he had no idea that he didn’t really stand a chance in working things out with her.

The best triangles are those where there are NO bad guys – and this one is it! Buzz warned Frankie that Natalia was a woman with a huge heart who spent her time trying to please other people. That’s what we’ve seen from her since she arrived in Springfield – that though it hurt her to be with Gus, especially since he was married and continued walking away from her after their trysts, she gave herself to him any way. She did it because it made HIM happy, but it left her feeling ashamed and alone after. Rather than defining herself based on the men in her life, Natalia is learning who SHE is, what SHE wants. Though I believe she loves Frank, in a strictly platonic way, and that she wants to see him happy – Natalia can’t marry Frank. She loves someone else. She can’t help that.

Triangles in the past have been obvious and predictable. Not so with the Frank/Otalia storyline. Job well done, writers!

3. A greater appreciation for the importance of good casting! This is no small task folks. The casting director who landed Zack Conroy for the role of James Spaulding deserves an extra paycheck! He’s so perfect for this role that I’d forgotten that he was cast as the drug-dropping Leo on As The World Turns. For such a young actor, Conroy does a great job of doing what it takes to fill the screen and make his character an already larger-than-life soul. Conroy gives James a gritty realness. I easily buy him as the pampered scion of a billionaire family.

His morals are as free and easy as that of ‘granddad’ Alan, but he has Phillip’s wit and Beth’s compassion. Brilliant, just brilliant. The writers have struck the perfect tone with the character, and Conroy has done a surprisingly masterful job with the rest of it.

A return to romance, a new focus on long loved core families, great casting, and wonderfully consistent storylines. It just doesn’t feel possible, to me, that this show is over. I was reading comments posted at the NYTimes Arts blog regarding GL’s ‘demise’ when this letter caught and held my attention:

I have the wooden-case radio that sat atop the refrigerator in my grandmother’s kitchen, where I listened with her to “The Guiding Light,” “Stella Dallas,” and many more. When I was older I’d watch with my mom in the summer, when school was out. Another generational link is going.

It may sound silly that anyone cares about a daytime show going off the air, but it’s more than the show. It’s the show, our memories, another lost (generational link) and cultural tie, It’s yet another piece of original American history that’s been commodified, sold off, and left to become part of our ‘past’. Well, not if this soap fan can help it! I’d like to see the Guiding Light continue on. If reports of GL potentially finding a home with the Lifetime Network are true, YES! I’m thrilled beyond measure. If not, please help use the links below and join GL fans in working to get CBS Network Execs to ‘Leave the Light On’: Save the Guiding Light

Keep our Light On

The BnB’s Celluloid Closet…

ROUND THREE, people, ROUND THREE! This will probably be my last blog on this topic for a while, since I’ve neglected my GH, DAYS, and OLTL duties and have yet to reflect on my new love-hate relationship with all three shows.

One of the benefits of posting on soap message boards and blogging is that posting gives you the opportunity to think fully about fans’ reactions to storylines you may think of as basic storylines. Apparently not! In the last BnB blog I posted, I wrote that I’ve been surprised by two concepts 1 – that Stephanie Forrester and Taylor Hamilton Hayes are ‘too moral’ to become involved in a lesbian storyline. 2 – That Taylor and Stephanie are highly moral, at all. The comments below work if you believe that it’s objectively true that Stephanie and Taylor are ‘moral’.

As the debate continues on the official Bold and Beautiful board regarding the speculated possibility of a ‘Staylor’ storyline, I realize just how brilliant the writing for ATWT and GL has been! Before you burn me in effigy, let me qualify that statement – because it clearly requires qualification. The writers of both shows have done something that would not dared have been dreamed of just a couple of decades ago. They’ve established their respective couples (Nuke and Otalia) with at least one partner in the couple serving as their respective shows’ moral centers.

Luke and Noah resisted the temptation to bed-hop as so many others around them had. Noah’s father was a horror of a freak show and Luke’s parents have likely spent as much time sleeping with other people as they have sleeping with one another. Nuke came together not because they were running from anything else, but because they were running TO each other. They took their time getting there (too much time for some fans’ tastes, but they were worth the wait). Nuke brought a patience, kindness, and caring back to the show that had been missing for some time. They also brought back a sense of old-fashioned romance.

The same could be said of Otalia.WOWZA! Their long-awaited admissions of love for one another was nothing short of ‘supernova’ brilliant! The tone was right, the location was right -oddly enough at Gus’ graveside, Liv’s inability to stop herself from saying the words she’s worked so hard to avoid was gut-wrenching… if I wasn’t already sold on them as a couple, I would have been sold at that moment. I haven’t been as pleased with what followed, but more on that at another time. What immediately struck me was Liv’s comment to Nat that she knew that the fact that she loved her was a ‘sin’ in Nat’s religion, but that she couldn’t stop from loving her. Nat treated Liv’s concern about her religious ideas for what it was, no obstacle. (Not everyone interprets religious scriptures the same way; and not everyone believes that love is a sin). Ok, so you’ve seen the follow up eps by now and know that religion will be an issue for the couple in the future. ARGH! I told you that would happen so I’m not surprised, but ARGH is still the best reaction I’m capable of giving at this time.

As for the original point, I think it’s fascinating that Natalia has become the ‘new Maureen Bauer’. She’s the show’s mother hen who makes easy work of finding the good in everyone, who keeps an open door and open heart to everyone around her, and is a friend to anyone in need. I can’t help but believe that the writers will address the ‘religiosity’ aspect of the Otalia storyline, soon, removing the notion of Natalia as a ‘damned soul’ because of her feelings for Olivia.

I think that the way the writing team from each soap handled the matter of establishing their respective couple as part of the show’s moral core (if such a thing exists on a daytime show) was so subtle that I hadn’t thought of it as an overarching theme for the introduction of gay/lesbian couples in the contemporary daytime setting. It could certainly be considered an extension of the introduction of AMC’s Bianca Montgomery who, at almost every age, has served as the keeper of Pine Valley’s collective moral conscience. She became ‘Grandma Mona’s’ spiritual heir.

The Bold and The Beautiful’s Celluloid Closet

If you’ve never seen the documentary ‘The Celluloid Closet’, it’s a MUST VIEW. The documentary is based on Vito Russo’s book of the same name. Clearly Hollywood did a poor job of supporting diversity of any kind in its early history, but like many others, my self-invested interests kept me focused on the nonexistent racial diversity and problematic portrayals of women. This documentary opened my eyes to discrimination across the board, and how easily societal attitudes about sexual minorities have been both shaped and reinforced by the superficial images presented on screen. When I see resistance to the notion of a ‘Staylor’ pairing, there’s a part of me that wonders if the implicit and explicit messages about the ‘morality’ and ‘sexuality’ as polar opposites taps some unexpectedly uncomfortable space when it comes to two characters who’ve presented themselves as the show’s moral standard bearers.

The questions for me is, given how well the formula has worked on other shows, why WOULDN”T Stephanie and Taylor serve as the most likely couple – should the writers decide to introduce sexual diversity to the BnB audience? Wouldn’t this be yet another variation on the theme?

Opening Segment of ‘The Celluloid Closet:

If the ever noble Luke and Noah, spiritual Bianca, and religious Natalia have led the way in asking fans to reconsider their ideas of sexual minorities as ‘immoral’ wherever those feelings exist, wouldn’t it make perfect sense for Stephanie and Taylor to provide the avenue to opening the discussion for viewers on The Bold and the Beautiful? I don’t know how anyone BUT the incredibly skilled Susan Flannery and John McCook could lead this storyline forward (yes, John McCook, not Hunter Tylo). I can see JM’s Eric reacting to his wife, in her ‘golden years’ – as Steph gingerly calls them, deciding not to spend her remaining time supporting him but deciding to live her life with dignity and integrity and being the person she was meant to be.

A tearful and genuine final goodbye to the drama and turmoil she’s lived with Eric? They part as friends, parents, and long ago partners in success before she moves on with her life? And then in walks Taylor. It’s the only thing that makes sense to me. As they stand now, their friendship doesn’t make sense in light of the Stephanie’s extreme attitudes and behaviors regarding Taylor. In the same documentary, author Susie Bright discusses clues that suggest the possible same sex attraction of Mrs Danvers to the character ‘Rebecca’, in the film of the same name. Her comments are in relationship to the clip from the film, featured below (beginning 5:30 in):

“Rebecca” and Mrs. Danvers:

I’ve been asked why I haven’t thought of Stephanie and Brooke as potential partners or supported that notion.  Easy.  It doesn’t make sense!  If we follow the analogy all the way through, then clearly Stephanie is operating in the role of ‘Mrs. Danvers’ to Taylor’s “Rebecca’, with Brooke serving as “the second Mrs. De Winters”. No no, Brooke is no innocent, as is Joan Fontaine’s “the second Mrs. De Winters”, but Brooke truly loves Ridge (who serves as ‘Maxim’ in this analogy). She continues loving him despite never being able to win over the support of the controlling and overly protective Stephanie/Mrs. Danvers. Because of the unspoken love, and unbroken bond, Stephanie’s Danvers shares with Taylor’s ‘Rebecca” – one that not even death breaks, Brooke will always be on the outside. She will never overcome Steph’s/Danvers’ desire to maintain the MYTH of Taylor’s (Rebecca’s) perfection. Brooke will continue to be psychologically tortured by a false image of the perfect woman that Stephanie/Danvers created out of her own unexpressed desires, an image Stephanie/Danvers uses as a weapon against Brooke/2ndDW, though she knows the truth.

Brooke’s 2ndDW will never benefit from having Steph’s Mrs. Danvers spin her misdeeds into something magical and perfectly acceptable in order to hide those sins from those around her as Stephanie/Danvers has done for Taylor/Rebecca. Note how, in both the film and on the BnB, it was most important to maintain the notion of purity for those who were in the dark about Taylor/Rebecca’s true nature, most especially Ridge/Maxim. Steph’s only loyalty is to Taylor. Her passion and compassion are saved for Taylor. Her forgiveness is saved for Taylor. Why is it so unlikely that her truest love is reserved for Taylor? For those who think of Steph and Taylor as mere friends, I just don’t see it. I think the BnB has been writing from it’s own celluloid closet for these two characters for some time, unintentionally or not.

Sexual Fluidity: The Otalia/Staylor Debate continues?

Trust me when I tell you that for those of you who’ve posted, who’ve emailed, and who’ve shared your personal stories, I’ve been LISTENING!  I’ve also been learning.  Before I get started, I’d like to recommend the following title for anyone might find this book worth the read (click the image to read an excerpt from Amazon.com):

The Editorial Review reads as follows:

Many women experience a fluid sexual desire that is responsive to a person rather then a specific gender, argues Diamond n this fascinating and certain to be controversial study. Diamond, associate professor of psychology and gender studies at the University of Utah, is best when detailing, with vivid examples, how scientific studies of sexual desire and behavior have focused on the experience of men, for whom the heterosexual/homosexual divide seems mostly fixed. Diamond says traditional labels for sexual desire are inadequate; for some women even bisexual does not truly express the protean nature of their sexuality. Diamond details in accessible and nuanced language her own study of 100 young women (by her own admission not fully representative) over a period of 10 years. She says that she is calling for an expanded understanding of same-sex sexuality that could radically affect both LGBT activists who hold that sexual identity is fixed and antigay groups who believe sexuality is chosen. Sexual fluidity involves a mix of internal and external factors, but is not, Diamond emphasizes, a matter of conscious choice, and she speculates that a younger generation that views sexuality as personal rather than political might embrace this less rigid view. (Feb.)

If you’re a  SON poster, there is a lot of new content, here, but some of this blog entry was posted as a response at the SON site.  Stick around and add your thoughts!

I’ve been surprised by the reaction of some Bold and Beautiful fans  when I suggested the possiblity of a “Staylor” (Stephanie and Taylor) relationship similar to the Otalia (Olivia and Natalia) relationship on the Bold and the Beautiful.  Some BnB fans have responded to my suggestion by stating that  Stephanie and Taylor are too ‘moral’ to get together and ‘have sex’.   There is a difference between sex and a relationship no matter how much daytime writers blur those lines for the sake of plot device.   I suggested a relationship, not a one night stand.  If sex happens, it happens, if not?  EH!   

The suggestion was considered ‘disgusted’, ‘perverted’ and ‘immoral’, by some.  Color me surprised!  The Guiding Light has received TREMENDOUS positive feedback for it’s delicate and sensitive handling of the Otalia relationship.  It’s hard for me to believe that fans of any show could still have that reaction to such a proposed storyline.

It was suggested (both openly and in private) that I had to be a lesbian in order to  even suggest support for the notion of a Staylor pairing.  I’ve heard that same argument made in different ways.  As a person of color, whose family survived the pre-civil rights American South, I’ve heard that argument phrased as anyone who supported civil rights had to be an ‘n-lover’ (I refuse to type the word in full).  The reality is that when you support people for who they are, and realize that your OWN experiences aren’t the only experiences that count, it just makes you human.  PERIOD.

The suggestion is not a storyline about the sexuality of the viewers, the writers, the actors, or society at large (other than the fact that according to Diamond’s work, such a storyline is VERY MUCH consistent with reality)… it’s about shared humanity… it’s about reality, overall… in other words?  SNAP OUT OF IT!

The idea that ANY soap character is ‘too moral’ to be involved in a same sex realtionship leaves me asking which soap you watch!  It can’t be anything currently on air.  Loving someone who is same sex?  No biggie.  Sleeping with your husband’s brothers his former father- and brother-in-law and his new half brother, in addition to: lying about your adulterous behavior, following that with becoming a bigamist, and taking advantage of mentally frail individuals for the sake of your own gain (among other soap sins)?  Yeah, THAT’S what I call immoral!

I’ve never understood the idea of Taylor as ‘moral’. I know she speaks in moral tones, but her actions have always said otherwise, which is why I think she and Steph are so PERFECTLY matched, they are the same on that score.  Not every pairing is made up of  ‘sunshine-and-light’ partners.  Some of the best pairing in daytime have been dark ones: Alan Spaulding and Blake Mahler, for example.  Taylor’s actions, even before her latest back-from-the-dead stunt, were not too much different from those around  her. Taylor was always better able to hide her behavior and present a ‘moral’ face to those who didn’t know any better – namely RIDGE.

She lied to Brooke about sleeping with Ridge when Ridge and Brooke were together.
She lied to Ridge about Brooke sleeping with Grant when she knew the truth.
She lied to the Forresters about having known Grant (when the implication was that she was sleeping with Grant while married to Blake Hayes).
She used crazy-as-a-fox Blake Hayes to make Ridge jealous when Ridge was focused on Brooke.  She slept with Blake, tossed him aside, and then sleeping with Ridge immediately after.
She lied to Stephanie (and everyone else) about having actually slept with James.
She convinced Brooke to stay with Eric to give Rick time to ‘adjust’ to their divorce and then went after Ridge.
She tried to use Brooke’s children to get close to them so that Ridge leave Brooke when she came back the first time she came back from the dead.
She and Stephanie were wickedly ugly about Brooke behind her back, snooping through her office, Taylor cackling while Steph referred to Brooke as a ‘hooker making money for it’s john’.
Add her role in the Venice scheme, the fact that she diagnosed Thorne and Brooke as mentally ill only AFTER Ridge told her to stop supporting them, and that she had young Rick lie about her relationship with Eric (something she’s still keeping from Stephanie).
That’s my short list, LOL!

I’ve always found Taylor to be a very ugly soul and the more she cackled about her ‘moral’ behavior. the more of a hypocrite she’s become.

Stpehanie and Taylor are kindred. They feel beaten up by the world despite the fact that they’ve created their own misery. They have such a hatred for the world around them and it would be GREAT if they got together and actually found happiness.

For me, Steph is love-to-hate. Taylor is just there, BLAH. Together? They could actually be interesting. I think a relationship with these two would be amazingly transformational for the characters and allow the writers to open them up in a way they never have.  Just as Otalia has come together and each made the other better, the same could happen with Staylor.  Taylor would fit the ‘Natalia’ role, to some degree, taking Stephanie in, helping her mend her broken heart, and giving her a ‘safe’ place to land.  Steph would fit the ‘Olivia’ role, insecure, frightening, controlling, angry, scheming against the world… together they could find peace.

We’ve never come close to having either character find peace.  Taylor has always been the anti-Brooke plot device – angry and feeling tossed aside. The BnB writers started to open Stephanie up with the abuse reveal storyline, and then shut it down almost as quickly as they started it. 

Time will tell where this unofficial couple goes!

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!

Aging Daytime Style

I remember when the great Michael Zaslow had to make the heartbreaking announcement that he’d been diagnosed with ALS.  A daytime exec who deserves to remain nameless, in my book  justified the firing of Zas from The Guiding Light by commenting how vibrant a man Roger Thorpe (the character Zas turned into daytime phenomenon) has always been.  It was further stated that Roger Thorpe should not become a ‘wizened’ old man.  It was probably one of the cruelest blows struck against the daytime legend and the fans who adored him.

I thought about that comment, yesterday, while watching GL’s Buzz Cooper(played by Emmy winner Justin Deas) and Alan Spaulding (played by Emmy nominated Ron Raines).  The lifelong onscreen enemies were locked in yet another battle, this one an actual fistfight, until Alan began having a heart attack.  Buzz just minutes later, also began having a heart attack. 

I couldn’t make up my mind if the scene was meant to make Buzz and Alan  realize how silly and pedantic the ‘war’ between the powerful and upper income Spauldings, namely Alan, and the middle income/working-class Coopers has been.  More likely than not, the scenes were supposed to be funny.  For me, they weren’t.  If it was a joke, it fell flat.

This feels, to me, like the work of GL’s   “Team B” (if there are two writing teams heading this show).  “Team A” seemed to resolve the issue of Remy and Christina’s marriage of convenience.  They weren’t ready for a full commitment, but they were growing closer.  “Team B” trotted out the same old conversation about the “faux marriage” concerns from months ago.  It’s the first time in a long time I actually yawned during an episode of GL.

“Team A” gave us Phillip’s glorious return, a return that started dragging the Guiding Light out of the ratings basement and signaled to fans that there is still a lot of life left in this show.  “Team B” managed to take two of the show’s most vibrant and alluring men and created ‘wizened’ creatures out of them.  David and Goliath storylines don’t work when even David is diminished in stature.  (To be sure, I’m not stating that anyone who has had a heart attack is ‘wizened’ or weak, I’m commenting on how GL writers used the illness to illict a laugh, but only succeeded in making Buzz and Alan seem weaker, somehow).

I still love the new GL, I just love it more when “Team A” takes control.  I’m hoping that “Team B” is up only to give “Team A” time to recharge its batteries and give us more of the great storylines they’d started telling just several weeks ago. 

I will give “Team B”  this much credit:  I enjoyed the scenes between Beth and Phillip – not an easy feat since Beth is at the bottom of the list of characters that I couldn’t care less about.  Phillip sees a new Beth.  She’s not the same frightened “little  woman” in need of constant rescue, as she’d always been in the past.  It was one of the most annoying aspects of her relationship with Coop – that she needed the 20 something year old Coop to ‘rescue’ her from big bad Alan.  “Team B” established Beth as the rescuer, this time.  Phillip needs her.  She may just end up being his caretaker.

Happy Valentine’s Day! Soap couple moments I love

Days Of Our Lives

There’s something about EJ and Nicole that allows them to bring out the best in one another.  He’s STILL  a manipulative power-mad monster; his Dimera genes don’t leave him much choice.  What I love is the fact that he’s not power-mad and controlling with Nicole.  Unlike characters like Phillip Kiriakis, who dumps on any woman who dares to love him – in order to prove he’s worthy of his perpetually angry papa’s love, EJ is willing and able to put his love for Nicole first.   EJ is not afraid to stand up to his father and protect the woman he adores.

Every other woman he’s been with brings out the lowlife in him.  Nicole brings out the loving husband and father who feels secure and who can trust the woman he’s with to build a future and grow his family with… which makes it a shame that Nicole is lying to him about his daughter’s maternity.  While he hasn’t been able to tame the manipulative side of her, he at least brings out the humanity in her.  This time, she’s lies for someone else’s benefit, not JUST her own.

Guiding Light

Beth and Phillip are the best of what daytime soap couples are meant to be, even if they aren’t together – yet.  Seeing his face, all Beth had to do was touch him – the love of her life, the man she thought died and left her behind.  Is there doubt in anyone’s mind that she’s been written as a character in free fall because Phillip wasn’t there to catch her?  Every romance was an attempt to recapture the love she shared with him. All have failed.   What made Phillip and Beth great is not that she was always a stereotypic damsel in distress, in need of a knight in shining armor to save her.  Indeed, Beth has been Phillip’s rescuer for as much as he’s saved her.

How fitting that he returned to save, for now, the newest replacement soul mate she’s involved with – another relationship gone horribly wrong.  Coop’s blood on Phillip’s red hoodie, blood that ended up on Beth’s wedding gown through contact with Phillip… Coop has symbolically become yet another casualty in Beth and Phillip’s epic saga.  His return had to signal Coop’s end.  There was no other way.

 When Phillip helped Beth step out of her blood soaked wedding gown, and wrapped a robe around her, something in me welled up.  Beth stood there, half undone but unafraid. There was no shame. There was no angst. Just love and trust and comfort.  It’s been a long time since we’ve been treated to a scene like that ANYWHERE in daytime.  They don’t need words to communicate.  They just need to be together.

General Hospital

I wish I could say that the money TPTB spent on yet another helicopter… to airlift even MORE ‘stranded’ PC citizens had a positive effect on me, but it did not.  All I could think about is how GH writers are now ripping off their own  disaster moves… Hotel fire, Port Chuckles citizens running to the rooftop to make it to the waiting helicopter, not enough room for everyone to go at one time, some will have to wait…been there, done that. Some of the same citizens are involved in this one too.  What?  No PTSD?  No flashbacks to the hotel fire?  (If there were, I missed them, I tuned out most of the yawn inspiring poison gas disaster).

The couple scene that warmed my heart most happened with a couple that shared little to no screen time through most of this catastrophe.  While Patrick yelled orders, telling Sam and others to get to the rooftop and let him worry about who needed to get out next, my heart melted.  So strong, so brave, so much the man a great love made him.  Could you imagine the Patrick Drake who first came to town being so selfless?   THAT Patrick would have been trying to figure out how to get out to save his precious gift for the world.   He’d have been throwing elbows on his way up the stairs toward the helicopter (wondering about the poor heartbroken women who wouldn’t survive if he didn’t make it out of there).  Ok, Patrick was never THAT callous, but he was pretty damned close.

Love has transformed him.  THIS Patrick worried about his family.  THIS Patrick could think of the families of all of the others who wanted them back home that day.  While he was saving others, Robin was bonding with Emma – and praying that they would all be back together again.  Each in their own way recommitted to their loving family.

By the way, given the annual disaster event (or what seems like an annual disaster event), why does anyone in that town ever leave home? Why haven’t they all moved elsewhere?

All My Children

Reese touching Bianca’s cheek as she cried at the altar would have warmed by heart… IF Reese weren’t just kissing Zach a short while before that.  What do I love most about Reese?  How much she makes the audience appreciate what real women Maggie and Lena were!  Bianca’s two greatest loves, and TPTB wasted a Binks wedding on Reese. 

Rather than suffer through another eye-boink between Reese and Zach, I would have loved to have had either Maggie or Lena wiping Binks’ tears away.  Those tears would have meant something, then.

One Life to Live

Tea with?  ANYONE.  I love Tea’s chemistry with everyone she’s with, and sadly even with Todd.  It doesn’t seem likely the writers will ever go anywhere with the two… they’re past lovers who’ve developed a sibling relationship (icky as that sounds – it’s the reverse of a BnB lovestory where past siblings become future lovers once they learn they’re no longer related by blood).

Since we most likely won’t get Tea and Todd, I’m still lovin’ the Rex/Gigi relationship.  I’m not fully sold, but I love the friendship/lover vibe the two have.  Wes and Marty are equally, if not more, interesting -but for all the wrong reasons.  They’re  a trainwreck in the making!  Wes doesn’t know Marty all the well, but he’s got her number.  He’s figured out that not only is she using him to get to Todd, but to get to McBain, as well, and he’s not having it! 

Now, if only Wes would learn enough about Marty’s history to ask her how she can afford to keep drinking when she’s supposed to have Lupus.   Has Marty gone into classic soap remission?  Is it just that the writers have forgotten about Marty’s illness?  Outside of the drinking, Marty and Wes have it going on… if only it would go on a while longer… we’ll see.

GL’s Fearsome Foursome back together?

SOD is reporting the return of Mindy Lewis, as played by fan favorite Krista Tesreau.  YES!  GL fans good fortune just keeps growing!  It’s great to have Melinda Sue Lewis back, but to have her played by the actress originating the role is such a perfect sign of appreciation of GL fans and the fans love for GL history. In an era when veteran actors and characters are let go to make room for the cheaper pretty-but-pointless, this is a HUGE move on the part of GL’s powers that be!

Speaking of history, it will be interesting to see how the writers have Mindy react to the very changed Beth. Friendship between the two women was slow in coming.  Melinda Sue was always convinced that Beth was far from the deer-in-headlights she pretended to be.   She was always faulted for the conflict between the  two (rightfully so), and has generally been viewed as the ‘bad girl’.  Though she was wrong at the time, maybe she’ll be credited for her ability to predict the future Beth Spaulding. 

In the not-so-brief time that she’s been away, Beth Spaulding has become a new person – both figuratively and literally!  Will Mindy gloat about the ‘new Beth’s’ penchant for disaster and self-destruction or  will their friendship pick up where it left off?  Will Mindy be quick to rub Phillip’s nose in the fact that Beth was sleeping with his father and his best friend when he could have used her support most?  What will her relationship with Rick be?  Does her arrival mean more  screen time for Billy and Vanessa?  Will she play good sister against Dinah’s ‘bad sister’ routine and expose Dinah’s role in the kidnapping of Lizzie Spaulding?  Will the Lewises be reunited (Reva and Josh included)?   And more importantly, will the Lewis family finally get a homestead now that their family has increased in number?

GL just keeps hitting all the right notes. That  I’m even able to ask those questions makes me happy for the possiblities that KT’s return brings.