Done, Finito, KAPUT! I’m done trying to find a reason to like the BnB’s Steffy Forrester, DONE! I usually love bad girls/bad boys in daytime; although I almost always root against them. I enjoy watching them unleash fresh hell on others, and later themselves as their plans backfire. It’s the best of both worlds. Truly great bad girl/guy characters feed your light and dark sides. Most daytime writers have a tried and true formula and “get” what makes bad girl/boy characters so much fun. They’re equal parts exhilaration and exasperation and just when you think you can’t love-to- hate them any more than you already do, the writers pull a twist. The character you thought you knew, the character whose all-knowing smirks drove you to the brink of distraction suddenly has a vulnerable side. You find yourself almostliking them! When daytime writers want you to fall for a character, they know what it takes to make you fall hard:
- AMC’s writers pulled the ’empathy card’ on Janet-from-another-planet Green when they revealed that she wasn’t simply pathologically jealous of her beautiful sister, Natalie Marlowe, but that she’d been the target of unrelenting taunting and teasing, merciless emotional abuse, all without remorse by a mother who felt justified in the emotional torture of her daughter. Natalie was her blessing, Janet was her curse. Wilma Marlowe couldn’t wait to remind Janet, every day of her life, that she was the daughter she would have done without and when given the choice, that choice would always be the beloved Natalie. Janet’s hope was to, just once, be chosen first. The desire to be someone’s first choice – even Trevor Dillon’s, drove much of Janet’s continued march toward madness.
- ATWT’s writers pulled the ’empathy card’ with Emily Stewart, who spent years dealing with her mother Susan’s substance abuse and emotional distancing. Emily’s victimization at her mother’s hands turned into a worldview in which she was always the victim of the those around her – even as she drew first blood. By soapgod, she was going to make the world PAY! ATWT pulled the double whammy with heartless schemer, Angel Lange, who was the victim of longterm sexual abuse at the hands of her wealthy powerful father. Angel’s scheming was directed at helping her secure her freedom from a powerful father who seemed unstoppable. To that end she forced Holden Snyder into marriage, schemed to keep him, and with her brother, stole millions from their father’s company.
- GH’s Stefan Cassadine’s ’empathy card’ came in the form of dysfunctional parenting as well. He and brother Stavros were presented as the “Heir and a Spare”. While his parents groomed his brother for greatness (and you can read that as great darkness), he was expected to bask in the shaded glory of the pathological Stavros, accept the cast off crumbs of his parents’ affections. It was a wonder that they allowed him to keep the Cassadine name. Stavros was dangerous, but even Stavros was a kitten compared to their parents.
Stefan never stood a chance growing up. If it’s possible to assign behavior to soap characters, you could imagine that had Stefan’s parents paid more attention to him in his youth, there would be no need to discuss adult Stefan. He’d have never nade it to adulthood.
- Long before Stefan, there was Bobbie Spencer, who curiously enough became Stefan’s wife. In her youth, Bobbie hadn’t met a man she didn’t want to control, nor a woman she didn’t want to destroy to have him. We later learned that Nurse Bobbie’s early trauma occurred when she was led into prostitution as a young teen by her Aunt Ruby, not long after her parents died. She was just another of the working girls in Aunt Ruby’s house. Bobbie’s “protector” was her older brother, Luke, who protected her by making sure she was ‘safe’ on her ‘dates’ with older men. Bobbie was reminded of her sex worker past, frequently, even as she transitioned from good-girl-gone-bad to bad-girl-turned-real-woman. The most lasting reminder of Bobbie’s difficult time was the arrival of the daughter she conceived while working for Aunt Ruby. Unfortuntately for Bobbie, daughter Carly came with an eye on vengence.
- OLTL’s Todd Manning, in his youth, was anger on a stick and a threat to the safety of women everywhere. The writers should have taken advantage of the fact that in a field of characters with unusual names (Storm, Ridge, Thorne, Destiny) naming this guy “Trouble” instead of Todd would have been more honest. If there was a thing that Todd didn’t hate, it was only because it hadn’t been invented yet. It’s hard to feel sorry for a unrepentent rapist and the writers knew it. Without the need to try to ‘redeem’ him, the writers allowed the audience catch a glimpse of what was left of the humanity of the character. The idea seemed to be to provide the audience some hope that whatever was left of his humanity was enought to stop him from victimizing others and to begin dealing with his own pain. Todd’s pain resulted from frequent beatings by an uncaring father who despised him. Todd’s father, Peter Manning, was his maternal uncle and adoptive father. He was forced to raise the child as his own. We later found out that Todd was also sexually abused in his youth.
- BnB’s Stephanie Douglas Forrester (who moved from my love-to-hate column to fully despise) was the product of a vicious wealthy father who presented the image of a perfect family to his business colleagues and friends (including fellow industry titan, YnR’s Katherine Chancellor). What his friends and and colleagues didn’t know is that Mr. Douglas beat his daughter “Stevie” with reckless abandon behind closed doors. Stephanie’s cruel childhood treatment was reportedly the cause of the cruelty she expressed in adulthood. It is something that others around her struggle with until this day — clearly Stepahnie doesn’t struggle with her inhumanity toward others. She revels in it.
You get the common thread, yes? Years of emotional, physical, verbal, and sexual abuse. Whether it happens because of a cowardly parent or a craven lover, there is typically a foundation for the abusive, shallow behavior we witness in our fave bad girls and boys. Use that as a backdrop to try to understand the BnB’s Steffy Forrester. She’s the heir to a massive fortune, her mother came BACK from the dead and re-established the family Steffy always wanted. Her mother also gave her 25% of the family company – trusting her to “take care” of her older brother. Steffywas raised by a father she adores. She’s never had to go to college and yet was handed cushy executive level positions in the company after spending only a few months in the mailroom. AND she had a stepmother who raised her and loved her while her mother was believed to have been in the grave (the same stepmother she still adored just a few years, ago, and with whom she’s had no significant conflict). She’s traveled the world and has reportedly been loved and in love.
To hear this wanker of a character whine day in and day out about how sad she is, how much she needs a man (any man dating or married to a Logan woman), how hard her life is, how she’s been abandoned, maltreated, unloved… it’s all just too much. Rather than creating feelings that run from exhilaration to exasperation, my feelings for Steffy run from damned bored to seriously annoyed. Her rapid shifting from begging her daddy (Ridge) to staywith the family and continue to raise her, to begging her ‘big daddy’ (Bill Spencer) to stay with her for the night and make love to her is pathetic, but mostly jarring. Is she a needy child or a sexually provocative woman? She can’t be both, or use both “needs” as the foundation for her aggression toward the Logan family. Her need to destroy the Logan family because her father loves Brooke, is petty. It’s surreal at best when you consider how much she loved Brooke as a stepmother, until her nological mother’s return. It’s absurd when you consider the fact that Brooke is the mother of her youngest brother.
Steffy doesn’t work as a bad girl because there is no “empathy card” to be played for this character. The character is made up of all hard angles. It’s even hard to believe that she’s invested in the people she claims to be invested in. She’s now twice turned on her mother for love of two different men (Rick Forrester and Bill Spencer). She’s never bothered to share the stock in the family company with her brother. She doesn’t care if her YOUNGEST brother (still in late childhood) grows up without a father – as long as their father is in the home she no longer lives in as an adult. She’s been working to destroy her brother’s family since he was a toddler. She fell to her knees over twin sister Phoebe’s death, but almost immediately fell into bed with the man her family blamed for her sister’s death. She defended him even after he used her and used her sister’s death to taunt her father… the same father she can’t live without.
The fact that anyone (onscreen) finds her intriguing leaves one feeling dumbfounded. Steffy Marone-Forrester is a character filled with contradictions, and none of them good.
She is not likable.
She is not rootworthy.
She is not interesting.
My time is quickly becoming wasted by this character. My sincere hope is that the writers are planning to give the character depth or to send her packing. I will accept either, but what I can’t accept is Steffy in her current incarnation. At some point the writers will become bored with this character as she is. I’m looking forward to THAT day.