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.

Why ATWT’s Parker scares me…

This is NOT, repeat…NOT, a spoiler. It’s not even speculation based on spoilers. It’s one writer’s comment about where a storyline could potentially go, and what it would mean if it happened. As far as fans are concerned, ATWT’s writers might be penning a storyline about an angry, know-it-all, teenaged boy. OR they could be writing a storyline about a young man who is on the verge of becoming violent to the women in his life. I couldn’t watch ATWT after Parker’s display the other day. I found them disturbing. His verbal attacks on Liberty and his mother, his controlling actions toward Liberty, his lack of concern about humiliating her in front of ‘another man’… it all adds up to a potential abuse storyline, in my book. I could be overly sensitive, given the current media focus on the Rhianna-Chris Brown matter, I admit that.

Whether or not the writers are headed in that direction is unclear, but it’s the impression they leave on this viewer. If Parker ever smiled, I can’t remember it. The idea that he was once a happy child is lost on me, given his behavior of the last year or so. I don’t know if his current sour demeanor is a choice made by the actor, the writers, or the director – but it has become off-putting. I keep waiting for him to take a swing at either Carly, or his ‘wife’ in one of his fits of rage. Has no one notice his penchant for nonverbally referring to his mother as a ‘whore’, and even tacitly implying it with his dialogue? The look he shot Carly when she opened the hotel door and saw a disheveled Craig in the background made me want to shake that kid out of his shoes! The one person who has always been on his side, who has fought for him every step of the way, and he treated her as if she was renting that room by the hour. It hardly bothers Parker that his father is off with a new woman every other year. It’s that his mother isn’t sitting in a nunnery, waiting for his father’s rare returns to the family, that seems to disturb him.

At this point, as storyline with an abusive Parker would make perfect sense – as sad as that is. The question is, who would be is target? Liberty, Carly, or both? If Parker did become abusive, how would it not only impact the women he hurt, but those around him? Would it impact his father at all? Parker grew up in a home with a father who was at times loving, and at other times angry and verbally abusive to his mother. Parker, himself, became the target of his father’s rage when he married Liberty. Jack threw Parker out of a home he no longer lives in.

What impact would Parker’s abuse have on Jack? Would it lead him to reflect on the abuse he’s leveled at Carly in the presence of their children?

Would it cause him to reflect on how many times he’s referred to Carly as irresponsible, selfish, or deserving of his (and their) scorn in front of his children?

Would he reflect on how many times he sat silent while Parker berated his mother?

Would Carly FINALLY learn to stand up for herself and stop talking garbage from Jack, who has only ever been able to love her as long as he found himself able to ‘approve’ of the person she was? Would she realize that allowing Jack to verbally abuse her created an environment in which her son was put at risk?

Would Jack take some responsibility for Parker’s anger, or would he revert back to type and simply fault Carly for Parker’s actions?

Watching Liberty and Carly struggle to forgive Parker, while still loving him and wanting the best for him could be instructive and informative, no matter how sad. Parker’s behavior is every bit as angry and controlling as his father’s, except in Parker’s case, it’s far worse.

***********

Speaking of things that scare me… Z and Z?  How much MORE are fans expected to take?  I’ve had more than enough of these two and trying to figure out what purpose they serve is beginning to give me an ulcer!  I have been able to find the one silver lining in the dark ZandZ cloud: we know that Nuke’s love is solid!  They’ve avoided any sort of temptation, so far, at least.  That ‘Z” or “Z” could appeal to Luke OR Noah seems like an impossibility.  There’s nothing likable about the characters.

What also scares me is that I’m enjoying the prospect of Damian and Lily crossing the line.  I KNOW!  How many more affairs could Holden and Lily have in the course of one lifetime, but c’mon…he’s DAMIAN (Damiangodofallmen) and he’s been shirtless.  I’m weak… so so weak when it comes to Damian.  I can understand Lily being weak for him as well.

Having Damian back reminds me of a time when I utterly enjoyed ATWT.

Soul Mates…BnB/ATWT/AMC/YnR

Bold and Beautiful

From the current SOW:

Weekly: So is this Brooke and Ridge’s big reunion, forever and ever?

Bell: It appears as if this is the great reunion. There are always people who may want to get in their way. Stephanie is certainly one. Nick Marone may factor into it. But we’re getting incredibly close. We’re at a point where we just can’t imagine they’ve reached this level. They’ve been through so much. How can this not be forever?

Weekly: In your mind, are they each other’s soul mates?

Bell: So much of this series is about Brooke and Ridge, from early on until now. It’s amazing that we still have Ron and Kelly, that they look so beautiful, that their chemistry has not waned at all. This is an incredible climax to this whole saga.

Well now… from EARLY ON it’s been about Brooke and Ridge?  From EARLY ON!?!?!?  Ah… BINGO!  Anyone who’s watched this show from the day it aired has known that.  It was ‘the look’ that launched Bridge, and ‘the look’ between these characters that has kept so many fans hooked on this show.

The war on love between Brooke and Ridge has left behind a string of casualties, on and off the screen.  On screen we have Eric, Thorne, Grant, Taylor, Ashley, James, and a host of others who came close, but never really close enough to keeping Brooke and Ridge apart.  Off screen?  The fans – those who are still watching, those who gave up on the writers long ago, who are victims of the BRidge tease.   I still have my frustrations with the couple, namely Brooke – she drives me nuts and annoys the unholy hell out of me most of the time, and yet there’s a part of me that can’t get past what Brooke and Ridge are when they’re TOGETHER.

They have been the couple to ‘keep apart’ for over 21 years soap time.  Taylor has manipulated and elbowed her way between them, Stephanie practically sits outside their bedroom door waiting for the chance to run in and steal Ridge away, Nick just sits by – waiting for a moment of vulnerability in order to slime his way in, Eric is always desperate and hopeful and inappropriate in his feelings for Brooke… the list goes on.  In the end, they’ve only ever stood on the outside looking in and the writers have made it clear, far too many times, that the story was about BRidge love and the lengths all others would go to in order to keep them apart.

The big question is, are there enough fans still watching to trust that BRidge really can and will be happy this time?  It’s hard to trust the BnB writers.  Case in point?  The 20th anniversary show.  I’d recount what happened for those of you who missed it, but I don’t want to be responsible for making adults cry (a nod ando condolences to those of you who  did watch it).

ALL My Children

There’s a great deal of maturity in the AMC writing for Reese and Bianca.  I can remember Erica’s one time utter revulsion at the thought that her little Binks was a lesbian.  She was so sickened at the thought that another woman would touch her daughter that it pushed her to the brink of madness.  Now?  Reese, the love of Bianca’s life, is going to get the ‘Kane treatment’.  Oh yes, Reese, someone should have warned you about Erica’s rocky relationships with her childrens’ spouses.
The minute I heard Erica say that Bianca needed help and that she felt Reese was taking advantage of Bianca’s good nature, I knew there was trouble brewing.    At some point, there will be scenes of Zach and Reese sharing a beer, wondering what awful thing they did in their past lives that brought them to the point of finding love and ending up with Erica as a mother-in-law.  Maybe they’ll flip a coin to figure out which of them will get to be the hero(ine), taping Erica’s mouth shut and shoving her in a dark, locked room.

Oh! I do feel a little guilty for saying that.  Erica scored huge mommy points for bringing not one but TWO nannies to help take care of the kiddos.  Freakin’ awesome.  What mother DOESN’T dream about an on-call staff of nannies?

About the show’s other soul mates, I’m still hanging on for the Jesse/Angie arc.  I wish the writers would hurry up and end the Greenlee/Aidan/Annie/Ryan storyline to make more time for Jessie and Angie.  My only remorse about the end of the quad storyline is that there weren’t MORE shirtless Aidan scene.  Oh what a happy girl I would have been had that happened.

As The World Turns

Jack and Janet as soul mates?  Eh!  If by ‘soul mates’ that means that they’re both so vapid and empty that it takes the TWO of them to create something resembling one complete ‘soul’?  Oh, sure.

How about Dusty and nu-sorta-Jen-but-let’s-call-her-Josie-for-now?  Nah, not yet!  Give them time and they will be, I’m sure.

Luke and Noah?  BINGO!  I think that the student election storyline is probably one of the most insipid, yawn inducing storyline the writers could have imagined for these two.  The aftermath?  BRILLIANT.  Noah turns Luke in?  They fight over Noah’s cut-and-run behavior?  They make up and Luke realizes that he needs Noah and tells him so?  Begs him not to leave?  Is their relationships stagnant?  SURE.  It is, I don’t think anyone would deny that Luke and Noah are the show’s longest running “relationship virgins” – kissing cousins Parker and Liberty had sex faster than these two.

So what’s so brilliant about Nuke (Noah and Luke)?   Their scenes are so sweet and tender that they can sometimes make you forget that the couple hasn’t been intimate.  The actors deserve recognition for creating an intimacy that doesn’t require sexual contact between characters to be real.  The strength of the Nuke relationship, and the audience’s overwhelmingly positive reaction to the couple, rests squarely on the shoulders of the remarkable Van Hansis (Luke) and Jake Sillbermann (Noah).  It sure as hell ain’t the writing that keeps fans tuning in.  Van and Jake are able to transform writing best left to an elementary school play and turn it into broadway worthy material.  The writers owe these kids, BIG!  Now… give them more screen time, thank you very much.

The Young and the Restless

Victor and Ashley?  Folks, I’m a Vic-Ashley fan from Waaaaay back.  I hated Nikki for teaching Victoria to call Ashley the ‘wicked witch of the west’.  I despised her even more when she deceived Ashley, making Ash believe that she was dying, leading Ash to abort Victor’s child.  Ashley thought she was giving Nikki the will to live, or at least the opportunity to die in peace, with her family.  Am I happy to see Victor and Ash back together?  YES!  All is right in my YnR world.

Do I think it will last?  No.  Even I know that Victor and Nikki are the show’s star-crossed lovers no matter who else they love or how many children Victor keeps having with other women.  I know it will end, but I will enjoy Victor and Ashley for as long as they are around.

I don’t want to see Ash or Victor stick it to Nikki – it would mean their relationship isn’t real, it’s more about making HER miserable  than the two of them being together, and that would be far too sad for me.  Oh sure, Ashley deserves to have a little fun… but not too much.  I also don’t want to see Victor treat Ash the way he’s treated Nikki – he can be a cruel S.O.B.  I just want a little romance from SOMEONE on this show – a romance worth watching, that is.

I wonder how the mini-mustaches are going to take it when Victor returns with Ashley?  Nick won’t have the room to be too critical of Victor.  Adam would have no room to talk, at all.  Victoria?  After her speech of always feeling loved by her mother, but no so much by her father, I have a feeling that Ashley had better hang on to Victor with both hands.  If she’s written true to form, I have no doubt that Victoria will try to pry Ashley and her father apart.  Let the games begin!

The better angels of our natures…ATWT/BnB

Stop by and check out the new Sound and Fury Message Boards.  It’s a full service site: soaps, music, the arts, science, politics, you name it!  Simply click the SandF icon to the right:

If you haven’t read MarkH’s blog about applauding the experiments in daytime, you should!  It’s phenomenal and it truly makes me want to see soaps in the same light that he does.  I want to love most of what I’m watching.  As I’ve said before, like so many of you, I just feel burned out.  Every time I want to trust daytime writers, they do something so shockingly bad, that even when they are doing something right, I’m still recovering from the last crappy storyline.

It’s a nasty little carryover effect.
Case in point?  I WANTED to applaud the writers for giving Luke and Noah more airtime this week than they have in quite a while, even before Noah went to Rome.  It’s just that the writers spent so much time giving them a storyline they’ve already played out so many times before that it’s losing its effectiveness.  Luke has a loving, though highly dysfunctional family.  He has great friends.  He has more money than a freakin’ bank, and he’s still fighting the good fight over small (though not insignificant) issues.

Hey, even I thought of another storyline that had them facing a little bigotry, but one that I thought would tackle stereotypes about cultural notions of ‘family’.  My thought was that Puberty would probably end up parents.  (Puberty = Parker and Liberty, non WTers). I’m grateful to the writers that they didn’t go that route, but I thought it was the direction they were headed in, initially.   Cousin Luke and Noah could become parents/guardians/whatever, of the child, but not without Janet objecting for religious and personal reasons.   Janet would learn, over time, that she had little more than stereotypes about gay families and slowly come around.

Now?  Luke and Noah are stuck in ‘older teen hell’ in daytime.  Luke is running for class President (or some such) and the big issue is getting a film series going in what should be, or has traditionally been a safe environment for him. I realize that not all academic environments are open and accepting, but I wanted more for Luke .  I wish the writers had chosen a storyline that had a significant impact on social issues.  This kid is as rich as creases. He could fund his own gay film series and end up throwing enough cash around to have the university administration kissing his toes trying to get a small portion of his fortune.  Gimme more, writers, gimme more.

What would happen if Luke suddenly started behaving like the mogul he is?  What if his Lucinda gene (yeah, yeah, no biological tie) kicked in?  How would Noah react to the ‘new’ Luke?  What would happen if another young man from a powerful family came along and tried to woo Luke away from Noah?  Noah, the kind and loving, up against an rich and devious snot how has images of merged fortunes dancing in his head?  Ruh roh!

I WANT to applaud the Bold and The Beautiful for realizing that it’s the women of the show that really make the BnB world go round.  ARGH, the problem is that the writers are going back to the Brooke-Taylor, and Brooke vs the doubled headed hell hound Stephanie-Taylor.  We’ve been down that round a million times. It’s all the show had to offer for nearly 14 years.

Why can’t Stephanie lighten up?  Why can’t she smarten up?  I’d have love for the writers to follow the storyline that was rumored to take place.  Brooke and Ridge would start their own company.  Imagine Stephanie taking over FC (as she should have LONG ago rather than leaving it to Eric and cheesy Donna).  Imagine Stephanie talking herself into believing that if she ruined Ridge and Brooke’s company, it would bring her baby boy home to her –There’s a word for that!  You might have been thinking DELUSIONAL, and you’d be right.  I, however, was thinking about the word  ‘OEDIPAL” in explaining Stephanie’s constant need to dig her claws into Ridge, dragging him back home to her.

Imagine Stephanie and Brooke ripping  one another’s companies apart, leaving almost nothing standing when they’re done, and forced to join forces against an outside enemy — Jackie M’s!  While they were hell bent on one another’s destruction, Jackie Marone was hell bent on destroying them both to become the top of the fashion heap.

Instead, the writers give us the same old, same old.

I’m going to follow MarkH’s advice and try to appreciate what the writers are doing right.  At the same time, I hope the writers will begin to appreciate those of us who’ve hung in there, continuing to support daytime with our hearts when our heads tell us to RUN!  It’s ok if they want to repeat some of the storylines of the past, but repetitive storylines are always less noticable when the writers give us something else to go along with it.

Oakdale, 62268

Fine. I’ll admit it.  I LOVE:  Tori and Dean.  (Loved Spelling’s “So noTORIous” as well).  I was never a 90210 fan, and can’t say that I made it through a full episode in the entire time the show was on the air.  In fact, if you totaled every scene I’ve ever watched, it still wouldn’t get you to a full episode. It was while watching “T&D: Home Sweet Hollywood” that the question hit me.  Has NUKE become the daytime equivalent of ‘Donna Martin’?  What I  know of Donna was that she wanted to maintain her virginity until she was married.  Was she successful in keeping her pledge to maintain her virginity?  I have no idea, maybe a 90210 fan can email and let me know.

While I posited in an earlier blog (ATWT writers vs. THEMSELVES) that the writers are treating Nuke as a mix between a throwback to old-fashioned courtship and a slow build into a ‘controversial’ relationship (as with Jessica and Duncan before them), there is a third possibility.  If Nuke has become the daytime equivalent of “Donna Martin’, they have also become the show’s moral center – and I’ll leave it to you to decide if it was intentionally or unintentionally brilliant on the writers’ part.  Nuke is the one couple that seems to have realized that there are lines which should never be crossed – like, say, pursuing your spouse’s best friend for the sake of a sexual relationship.  At least they haven’t crossed that line YET, not even with one another. 

So if the Donna Martin comparison holds, are the writers waiting for the wedding night for Nuke to finally get together?  Oh cruel irony. 

Here’s another cruel irony.  While daytime has heavily courted, and failed to attract, the ever elusive ‘younger viewer’, it’s failed to pay attention to the cultural shift that’s taken place in the lives of ‘younger viewers’.  Shows like MTV’s “Next”, “Parental Control”, “Date My Mom”, and “Engaged and Underage” (among others) don’t have the skittish and dichotomized view of sexuality that daytime writers do.  The parents of straight and gay youth help find someone who will love and respect their children.  Youthful viewers see images of diversity (racial, sexual, religious) that daytime writers have yet to offer them.  Everyone is treated as ‘the same’.   Imagine that. 

ATWT writers are seemingly between a rock and a hard place. They’ve chosen what is still an “unconventional” storyline in a far too conventional medium.  Actors who’ve been involved in  unconventional storylines in the past  (namely, cross cultural love stories) have spoken openly about the audience’s initially negative reactions to those storylines, much of which has dissipated. The question is whether ATWT writers are willing to fully commit to the Nuke storyline or if they’re going to continue to stall it..

While ATWT’s writers have taken gay characters farther than any network show in daytime history, they still haven’t taken the couple as far as most other couples their age.  I have a hard time believing that fans will find a romantic love story between these two young men more controversial than some of it’s more recent storylines (mentioned below).

ATWT writers?

1 – You’re never going to attract younger viewers who are more culturally fluid and savvy than you give them credit for.  What you’re doing is groundbreaking work for daytime.  It’s old news for them.  My own son is a mid 20-something who has friends who are from all walks of life, of all religious backgrounds, differ in their political philosophies, and whose sexual orientations are never even a question because no one cares.  (BTW, I’ve received pretty negative feedback about referring to Luke and Noah as ‘young’ in the above mentioned blog… that depends of your perspective.  They’re younger than my kid – and yes, I still think of HIM as a ‘kid’.  C’mon folks).

2 – Old veteran viewer beeyotches like me are FAR more open-minded than you give us credit for.  We’re not bigoted control freaks who are afraid of young people in love. Well, we are afraid of Parker and Liberty, who  are more ‘in lust’ than love, and given how hormonal and reckless they are, uh, YIKES! 

The ATWT writers have  painstakingly shown us that Noah and Luke are kids with better morals than either set of parents who spawned and raised them – but where does that leave the couple?  Will they remain the male equivalents of The-virginal-Donna-Martin?   Will writers allow Nuke to become a full fledged couple and create network daytime’s first gay love scenes?  Will NUKE stay together long enough to create a family of their own?  If time tells all, she’s pretty quiet on this score. 

If daytime wants to pull itself into the future it’s time to let go of the squeamishness about race and sexuality.  (Read PGPClassic’s though provoking, July 15th blog entry,  “The Color of Race”).  Come on, daytime, we’re all bigger than that.

Brad Snyder – off the manwhore list!

Image from Soaps.com
Image from Soaps.com

Last, but not least: I friggin’ love Brad Snyder for stepping up to the ‘Real Man’ plate, and joining the moral center spotlight with NUKE this week. Don’t worry.  I get it.  This isn’t “Little House on the Prairie”, but I can’t help loving the balance the show’s provided with Brad becoming an active parent.  We have the drug addicted porn star turned nurse, Emily the former prostitute dating her son’s brother, some sort of drug poisoning that has everyone stripping to the birthday suit, Meg seeing the ghost of a murdered girl, Lily revenge dating to get back at her cheating husband, Vienna leaving Henry, Bonnie representing an obviously guilty criminal, and Brad the good father.  I needed the respite from the endless parade of muck!  It’s been my only warm fuzzy of this past week (that and watching Janet flip her hypocritical bean about being ‘lied to’ as Liberty’s parent).

ATWT writers vs… THEMSELVES!

I’ve been trying to catch up on As The World Turns.  Much of it is watchable, even if it bears not even the slightest resemblance to the As The World Turns I use to love.  Douglas Marland spoiled me, when it comes to As the World Turns.  I compare almost everything that happened during ATWTs’ golden Marland era to what I’m watching now.  Remember Duncan and Jessica’s fear that Lucinda would stop doing business with Duncan once she found out about their interracial romance?  Remember how Jessica fought her growing attraction to Duncan and that despite their concerns about how other Oakdalians would respond, as Duncan kept pushing?

Lucy loved them and wished them well, while best bud Lisa Hughes turned on them.   I didn’t see it coming.  It was brilliant.  We were all challenged to face our own ideas about interracial couples.  I rooted for Jess and Duncan, I loved them. I was shocked by the response of some of my fellow soapers (heartbroken, actually) but most fans were like me and cheered them on.  Daytime writers spent a lot of time building up interracial couples during that time, and spent far less time getting rid of them.  I applaud shows that take a chance on doing something different – pushing the envelope and challenging our ideas about what ‘normality’ means.  While ABC is the ‘social issues’ network in daytime, it’s ATWTs that leads the way in challenging social conventions on the CBS network.  What I wouldn’t give to hire a team that would give the show more balance.

ATWTs feels like two different shows. There’s the sadly absurd half of the show – Decker, helping law enforcement?  An expert witness?  The storyline would have been better off played as straight camp – complete with laugh track.  Can you imagine his history coming up in court?  I applauded the writers for keeping Susan Stewart true to character and allowing her to  express her total revulsion at the sight of him.  Susan has never been the ‘forgive and forget’ type so it’s no a surprise that she hasn’t welcomed him back with open arms.  It was also no surprise that she threw all of his misdeeds back in his face.  Love her. 

There’s also the realistic and tender side of As The World Turns. It’s found in the several other plots, including the love story of Luke and Noah.  I’ve been trying to find my equilibrium since the writers opened up the issue of Luke’s sexuality.  Luke has always been a dear character, in my book.  He is, after all, the son of Damiangodofallmen Grimaldi – I remember Damian as he was, not the loser of a guy the writers transformed him into. With Luke’s coming out, I was fearfully sure the writers would take the same path with him that most daytime writers have taken with almost every other character who’s come out of the closet.  Hank Elliot.

WHO, you ask?  Exactly:

Hank was just one of the ‘tragic’ gay characters either killed off by TPTB of daytime, or sent away to deal with some tragic circumstance that hastened his exit from the show.  The word ‘tragic’ is in quotes because earlier gay characters in daytime rarely left for greener pastures.  There was almost always some emergency that required them to relocate to a new location.   Yes, even the much respected and treasured Douglas Marland fell prey to creating an AIDS storyline that centered around the only gay character on screen.

When I look at the difference between Hank Elliot’s storyline  and Luke’s I am amazed.  There’s such a sensitivity and care about developing Luke and Noah as people, not just ‘gay young adults’. For veteran soap viewers like myself, this is the gradual unfolding of a love story, the kind soap writers were once capable of penning.   For other soap viewers, this storyline is at a standstill.  Luke and Noah aren’t moving as quickly as other daytime couples. For me, it’s the fast moving couples that are the problem, but I understand the frustration.  There have to be questions about why the writers have taken more time to advance this couple:

1.  Is it because they’re still young? The answer to that question will be found in the Parker and Liberty relationship.  Like father, like son; like mother, like daughter.  Parker and Liberty have already shared a little kissing and groping.   If they become intimate, or anything close to it, that will make it clear that the writers aren’t concerned about Luke’s and Noah’s ages. They’re significantly older.   While we’re here, writers, I’d appreciate if you slow Parker and Liberty down just a tad – or a lot. 

2.  The writers still believe in a good old-fashioned romance?  Two words for you: Jack – Janet.  Considering the fact that Jack has been watching Janet work like a mad fiend to get Brad into bed from the moment she hit town, it’s amazing to me that he could fall into bed with her so quickly himself.  Surely Jack’s forgotten the G man’s rules of self righteousness.   Oh that’s right, the rules are for other people.  Carry on!  Jack and Janet know more about one another’s working parts than either of their physicians does.  Add Holden and Carly’s affair and I’m going to have to believe that good old fashioned romance isn’t what’s delaying the writers on the Luke and Noah score.

3. Is there are greater sensitivity to Loah/Nuke becuase they’re sexual minorities and the writers are afraid of advancing stereotypes?  I think it’s possible that there’s some merit to this one.  The writers have not only kept the storyline around, but have found ways to deepen the commitment the two have for one another.  Maybe it’s a combination of both 2 and 3. 

Luke, via the writers,  has made me as proud as if he were my own son.  He’s compassionate (something he gets from the REAL Damian).  He also has a steely resolve that’s served Noah well as Noah tends to seek out self-destructive behaviors (the marriage that never should have been, his need to please his father, is attempt to enlist as a way of running from Luke and his father’s death- not because he believes in what he’s doing).

Luke is like any other great romantic partner who falls for someone who is broken and has been hurt, and can’t stop putting himself in jeopardy. Luke is a bit like his other father, Holden (the irony of Luke having two fathers and being the best of both of them).  Holden spent much of his time standing back and aching for Lily.  Lily, on the other hand, did everything she could to push Holden away for a good part of their early relationship. She chose actions that ultimately ended up hurting her, and often fell for men she could never commit to in the long run.  Holden made his share of mistakes, and he made a ton of them, but still he waited.  I see Luke and Noah as a young Holden and Lily… I know, not exactly comforting, given where Holden and Lily are in their relationship.

Many fans believe that the best explanation for the “Nuke slow burn” is that the writers are cowardly.  I think they’ve shown an amazing amount of courage, so far.  I think this is a storyline that, like the Jessica and Duncan storyline, is challenging the audience to open a new discussion about what ‘different’ means.  Jessica and Duncan weren’t the end of soap civilization.  Noah and Luke won’t be the end, either.  Both couples have added to the diversification of daytime television.  I only wish the writers would do as good a job giving us a slow build to every other couple on screen,  rather than throwing them together and leaving the audience puzzled about why they should care.