Daytime’s Parenting Sweepstakes (Updated)

Bold and Beautiful.  Who’s the bigger loser in the deal, Marcus or Donna?  My money is on Marcus.  WOOHOO, you find your biological mother and she’s a former model, rich as creases, and now in charge of a multimillion dollar conglomerate.  What’s not to love?  Oh, just the fact that she’s nutty as a fruitcake (see Forrester Creations ‘takeover attempt’).  Not enough?  Add that she’s dumb as a stone!  How is it that young Marcus knows enough to be suspicious of Owen and Donna is falling for his act hook, line, and sinker?

If Donna loved her ‘honeybear’ as much as she claims, or her son for that matter, Owen would have been out the door.

All My Children – JR and Adam.  Adam is on the losing side, in this case.  Just how many times can JR turn his back on his father and try to make Adam ‘pay’ for (insert incident)?  His attempts to take over Adam’s company and/or fortune are becoming as commonplace as his change in hairstyles. 

He can forgive Babe for every mean and nasty thing she’s done to him, including having one night stands just weeks after they were married, and running off with his child AND his brother, but Adam is the devil incarnate?  What AMC needs is MORE Adam, and even an Adam clone or two (hint there, JR).  Given what’s transpired on this show the past couple of years, Adam is the least threatening person in Pine Valley… so far…but give him time.

One LIfe To Live – Starr and Todd.  It’s a draw!  The mini-me Starr has become is absolutely intolerable to me.  She’s demanding, obnoxious and completely out of control.  I hate it women, in general, are blamed for their children’s behavior, but I think it works in Starr’s specific case.  Blair shares some of the blame.  Carrying Todd Manning’s genes set Starr up for a very difficult life, to begin with – but there was a least some chance of escaping her destiny to make life miserable for as many people as possible.  Blair hasn’t done Starr any favors by having little-to-no guidelines for developing a sense of self control. 

While Todd moves to one extreme, appointing himself Starr’s Lord and Master, Blair moves too far in the other extreme – wanting to be Starr’s best friend.  Hey, Blair, Starr has enough ‘friends’ – they helped get her in the situation she’s in now.  She could use a parent.  She’s sorely lacking one.  While Starr is working hard trying to place her child for adoption, she should be looking for a placement of her own.  Make sure to take Jack and Sam with you, kid!

As The World Turns – Puberty (Parker and Liberty).  Isn’t it grand that their parents have FINALLY figured out that these kids need supervision, AFTER they were caught in bed together?  Before that?  The only parent who made time for either of them, and tried to keep them in line was Liberty’s father, Brad.   Brad is a lone salmon swimming upstream, when it comes to parenting.  He actually focuses on his daughter more than his own sex life.  Imagine that! 

Oh that Carly and Holden, and Jack and Janet.  Theirs are the ‘F’ bombs that just keep giving and taking.  They get their freak on and their 16 year olds get their freak on in response!  Ain’t that grand?  Summer love never seemed so  backwards.  Well, we know the outcome for OLTL’s  Starr and Cole – a child she wants to give up for adoption, one he wants to keep and raise.  The problem is that the OLTL storyline is weak, and without much merit as an example of the difficulty of teen pregnancy ( read more in the blog below “Jumping the Shark”).  All of the issues that make the OLTL storyline a weak one are issues that make a strong case for a teen pregnancy storyline for ATWT’s lusting cousins, ‘Puberty’.   

Both kids are from families that are hardworking, middle class (lower middle, or upper lower for Liberty and her mother, Janet).  Raising a child WOULD be a struggle for Puberty, neither of which has a trust fund, slew of servants, or enormous mansions to raise their child in.  Both are teens who rushed into sex, even while using birth control that neither probably knew how to use adequately or responsibly enough to be protected. 

There was no emotional commitment between Parker and Liberty prior to having sex.  Would they want to raise a child together?   This pair would give a more realistic look at the emotional angst of having made a decision they weren’t ready for and the angst of dealing with loivng a child enough to give it a great home with parents who were ready to love and care for it.  I’d hate for a Puberty pregnancy storyline (if there was one) to become as sensationalized as Gwen’s pregnancy storyline.  I’d love to see daytime portray teen pregnancy realistically and with great deference to the hardships of real life teen parents.  Since this is daytime, and almost no storyline is offered without controversy, let me offer the following:

Parker could turn to cousin Luke to help him.  He’s not ready to be a father, and yet he’s not ready to see his child placed with strangers. At LEAST two options are now available.

1 – Luke decides to adopt his cousin’s child.  He talks it over with Noah, and Noah agrees to give him whatever help he can.  It leads to them spending more time together and getting even closer – even if they’re not ready to be a full-fledged family.  Can they survive Luke becoming a single father and splitting his time between their relationship and his son?

2 – Luke and Noah decide that they’re ready for a long term commitment and raise the child together, as a family.  They agree to adopt the Puberty baby together.  This storyline, by the way, pulls Luke and Noah out of the ‘late teen’ trap the writers have been keeping them in to avoid their emotional and physical connection – which now makes even less sense given the explicit and graphic Puberty romp. 

In either case, Luke/or Luke and Noah adopt the child, agree to help raise him, and end up fighting Janet  and Brad on the adoption.  Janet opposes for religious reasons.  Brad opposes because he wants custody of the child and plans to raise it with Katie.  Both Liberty and Janet thinks it’s too much to have the child raised as Liberty’s sibling and fight Brad.

What’s that, you ask?  Haven’t NUKE been through enough?  I get the point, and understand why it would be hard to watch another ‘anti’ storyline when it comes to these two, but I think a storyline about adoption could be a great way to address the issue of whether cultural ideas about adoption involving GLBT parents is more myth than reality.   This would be an opportunity for the writers to debunk myths and to open the discussion about the more than a half million children in this country who need homes, and are barred from living in the context of a family with same sex parents because of unfounded fears.

I think the writers have exhausted the focus on Luke and Noah as ‘good guys’ with hearts of gold.  I think they’ve done enough to show us the stereotypes about gay males are just stereotypes.  It’s time to move them into family mode.  It’s time to fully integrate these characters and give them a meaty storyline that isn’t just about ‘coming out’ and dealing with ‘being out’.  They’re out.  It’s time for them to become as real as any other character on canvas.

Update:  I’ve just been informed that Noah is roughly 20, Luke 19.  It wouldn’t make much of a difference to have Nuke become parents at such a young age instead of Puberty.  Too bad the writers haven’t SORASed them as they have so many others.  Nuke, mid 20s?  They’d make great parents.  It’s just a few short years away.

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Jumping the Shark

That’s my favorite scene from the movie Soapdish – what started out as a spoof of daytime turned out to not be a spoof, after all!  A soap writer asked to write the impossible, a ‘back from the dead’ character who couldn’t logically come back from the dead since the audience witnessed the horrifc act and everything that followed (a la Taylor Forrester, Bold and Beautiful) ? Taylor laid in her casket for THREE DAYS before being buried.  Her return was explained by the return of an obsessed Moroccan Prince who somehow made it to her deathbed within hours of her shooting and who then noticed that she was only in a coma, while an entire hospital staff and the husband who held her while she died missed it.  The Prince then replaced her body with a wax dummy that was buried in her coffin – and no one noticed.  

Many storylines that were once thought of as ‘spoofs’ have become mainstays in daytime storytelling.  There’s so much about daytime I still love, and a hell of a lot that gives me pause for concern.  I promise, I’ll soon write about what I love.  Today is just not that day. 

I’ve been such a HUGE fan of One Life to Live, lately, that it pains me to call it out as the one show doing the most it can to jump the shark after such a beautiful rebound.  I loved the first part of the 40th anniversary episode, in part because of the return of so many beloved characters (why WHY did Mel Hayes have to die?).  Another reason I enjoyed the 40th was the inventive use of the current cast in retelling the show’s history.  I also liked the fact that the show seems to be opening up the issue of Bo and Rex’s relationship.  If Bo isn’t Rex’s father, he should be.  Natalie and Rex, cousins instead of siblings?  Something about that seems to restore the balance that was lost when ‘Nattie’ became a Buchanan.

The second part of the 40th anniversary?  Not so much.  I can’t say that I enjoyed it.  Much of it seemed to be used to pimp current storylines rather than celebrate the show’s 40 glorious years.  Ben sending ‘Blondie’ back to Charlie, because he needed her?  Megan and ‘Aunt Megan’ making sure Viki realized that her place was with Charlie?  Jared and Natalie as Clint and Maria?   It’s sure sign, to me, that the writers realize that they have to work hard to sell this paring (maybe with both pairings).  Not for nothing, but would it have killed TPTB to hire, I dunno, a LATINA to play a LATINA?  It’s 2008, people.   How could TPTB believe that a black wig, a bit of bronzer, and a forced accent would be enough?  I was embarrassed for Melissa Archer (Natalie), to be placed in that position.  The ‘Maria’ casting, in my opinion, was careless and indicative of the movement away from clean, crisp storytelling and production that has this show has been leaving behind in its trend toward ‘jumping the shark’.  Other problems include:

1.  Marcie’s desperation.   I’ve always believed that Marcie’s relationship with Starr is predatory, and this past week’s shows have only reaffirmed my belief.  Not many of us can fully appreciate Marcie’s circumstances – who could criticize her for wanting to be a mother?   My only earlier concerns were her desire to raise Todd’s grandchild, and her inability to stand back and have Starr ask her if this was the best option for her baby.  If Starr truly loves the child, why turn it over to a woman for whom her father has such hatred?  Does she honestly believe Todd will EVER give up on trying to destroy Marcie’s connection to that baby?  It’s just all heartache waiting to happen.

This week, my concerns about Marcie’s actions grew.  It’s disturbing to have Marcie ask if her marriage to Michael ‘is all there is’ in life.  It’s disturbing to have no one counter her statements that she’s not choosing motherhood over her marriage.  It’s DEEPLY disturbing to hear her comment that people leave you but that your child will always be there for you.  I don’t think Marcie SHOULD be a mother, and not because she can’t have children, but because she’s not yet adult enough to realize that children aren’t supposed to make YOU happy as a parent, or give your life meaning. It should be the other way around.  (So glad to see the writers on Guiding Light get this one right in their story of a couple that was desperate to become parents for pretty much the same reasons).  if the writers’ intent is to have Marcie come slowly unglued and unlikable, good job! 

If that’s not the intent, this plot has been pushed to its limits.  Marcie hasn’t shown, at least to this viewer, any compelling reasons to root for her and it’s dragging this show down to keep focusing on her obsession.

2.  Root for Marcie because she’s not Todd? I can’t.   I’m still holding out hope that the writers will redeem Todd though that’s becoming more and more unlikely.  I’m disturbed by Todd’s interactions with Marty, even more disturbed by him than by Marcie.  The writers have taken a once great character and reduced him to a serial violator.  I’ve already commented on why it’s never made sense for Todd, who was a battered child, to become violently aggressive with Starr and her friends.  There was never any history of aggression toward children from Todd.  As much as he hated Margaret Cochran, he couldn’t bring himself to kill her and their unborn child.  Not only is he now attacking teens, he’s unremorseful for his actions.  I believe his views are understandable. His actions?  Not at all.

Capping that off by having Todd take advantage of Marty’s amnesia?  The writers couldn’t have painted him as more of a cartoon villain if they tried!  The Fourth of July scenes crossed the line – if kidnapping her hadn’t already pushed the envelope.  There’s no way Todd should have been in a darkened room with the woman he raped, no matter how innocent the act of watching fireworks.  Todd had begun to understand what he did to Marty when Margaret kept him captive, and forced herself on him by threatening to kill his family.  How could he not realize how deeply painful the memory of that darkened room and his ‘gentle massages’ will be when she fully recovers?

Ruining Todd to advance the adoption storyline, and to force a pairing between John and Blair (and who didn’t see that one coming) won’t work.  I’m sure this is all part of Cole’s ‘comeuppance’ for daring to trust Todd.  Thanks, but no.

3 – Romeo and Juliet (with child).   The Baby Borrowers  this storyline ain’t.  There’s no redeeming social value in the Starr-Cole pregnancy storyline.  Daytime has shifted from creating summer love storylines it used to try to draw teens in, to creating more explicit teen sex storylines that are turning adult viewers off.  I cringed when One Life decided to show a ‘seduction’ scene between Cole and Starr when they were ‘on the run’.  I don’t think I’ve stopped cringing. 

Rather than dealing with the difficulty of pregnancy, Starr and Cole are still being treated like a modern day Romeo and Juliet.  There’s just the little matter of her pregnancy coming between them. So little focus on the child, so much focus on how to get the ‘lovebirds’ back together.  The pregnancy is trivialized and I think I understand why.  For most teens pregnancy limits their options – going to college, finding  employment that allows them to be self-sufficient, finding adequate housing, purchasing medical care/health insurance.  Clearly, none of the above are serious issues for Starr or Cole – which is probably why this storyline hasn’t been useful as a vehicle for this couple, but surely there is some sort of emotional consequence?  Most of the ancillary storylines building up around the pregnancy could have been played out without Starr or her child.  In fact, it probably would have been better if they had.

The cruel irony?  Teens aren’t watching!  Daytime has been unsuccessful in replacing the adult viewers who’ve tuned out with the teens so many soaps have heavily courted.  Thanks for nothing!

There’s so much to love about OLTL:  David Vickers, David and Addie, the burgeoning Rex/Gigi/Brody triangle, the corporate battle, and Tess – long may she reign, to name a few.  When comparing the above three storylines to the rest of the show and what it has to offer, I’m looking forward to the end of all three.  Besides, David Vickers could use a little more airtime!