BnB: The measure of a woman. The mismeasure of a girl.

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.

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Points to ponder – All Soaps

*YnR’s NuMalcolm?  Not workin’.  I’m trying, folks, I really am, but as good as it is to see Darius McCrary on screen again, this was just the wrong role to cast him in. Though… given the choice between keeping him as Malcolm and keeping KC’s Lily, he wins hands down!  Malcolm Winters was an iconic character and unfortunately, McCrary’s interpretation falls flat.  I’ve seen McCrary’s work in other projects (including CBS’s Cold Case) and he’s been very good.  Something about this role just doesn’t seem to translate well for the actor.

* If GH’s “Franco” came to town because he’s totally obsessed with Jason:

1.  Why was it necessary to have Maxie pimped out and risk her relationship with Spinelli?  His focus has been Jason the entire time.  The side story involving Maxie just doesn’t make sense and seems to be an awful waste of a couple (Maxelli) and a character (Franco).  It served no purpose.

2.  How can Jason be considered a ‘good guy’ when his actions capture  the imagination of a ‘psychotic’ killer?  Jason’s murderous exploits have made him an international icon for blood thirsty criminals?  Some hero!

3.  Why didn’t TPTB just name him Franco Guza?  It would make sense of Franco’s obsession with Jason and the Suckpranos.  It would have felt more honest.  It’s art, seemingly, imitating life.

* Why aren’t the BnB”s Logan women allowed to confront sister Katie with her penchant for betraying her family for the love of  her latest squeeze?  Katie is 2 for 2, right now, and I’m getting tired of her whining and moaning about how SHE’S been betrayed.  Put that attitude away Katie, and if you need help figuring out where to put it, just ask!

*  Does anyone else think that ATWT’s Simon and Henry would make a far hotter couple than Luke and Noah?   I’m so tired of the on-again-off-again nature of the Nuke relationship that I’m ready to see ATWT’s PTB replace them, NOW.  Pay attention ATWT’s writers.  OLTL’s writers are separating the men from the boys and writing a real relationship between two characters – who just happen to be gay. Watch and learn… Speaking of OLTL:

* Why the hell did OLTL’s Bo hand Dorian back the only piece of evidence that could convict his niece of stabbing Mitch Laurence?  Was that supposed to be a sign of his honesty and integrity?  It felt more like evidence of his sheer stupidity,  especially since it’s becoming painfully clear to others that Dorian is Mitch’s puppet.

As for Dorian Lord, she is nothing if not devious.  I’m not too thrilled with the image of a helpless Dorian Lord constantly caving in to Mitch’s demands.  At what point does she put her years of mischief-making to use and takes Mitch down?  I’m shocked by the fact that I like seeing Dorian on top, Mayor and chief power broker in Llanview, but I do.  Why have that ruined by having her behave like a skittish child, jumping at the sight of her own shadow?  MORE kick-ass Dorian, LESS kiss-ass Dorian, please.

* Doesn’t anyone else  ever get tired of hearing the BnB’s taylor whine about how Brooke stole her life, and made her miserable?  Even I can agree with her that that situation with Jack was traumatic.  I sure as hell wouldn’t have wanted to give birth to the biological child of a woman I hated.    Taylor didn’t sign on to be a surrogate.  She had in vitro in order to have a family with Nick.  The child she carried was supposed to be HER child.  I get it, but the problem with her whining is that Brooke didn’t cause taylor to ‘lose’ her son.  Taylor chose to give him away.  She also chose to continue to try to compete with Brooke for Ridge – even when Ridge  made it CLEAR that it was Brooke he loved.  You can’t ask the woman to stay out of your life, and then constantly throw yourself in the middle of her life and call yourself a victim.

* Why do DAYS writers continue to make my skin crawl by having EJ touch Sami?  Yes, yes… he was only comforting her after she received a call from Sydney’s kidnapper…. it’s just that every time he goes near her, I see him holding her at gunpoint.   I hear him  telling her that the only way to save  Lucas is to let him violate her.  Every touch makes my skin crawl.  Has Sami forgotten how she ended up pregnant with  EJ’s spawn (cutie that she is) and the one before her?  C’mon writers,  give Sami her dignity back and have her tell EJ to keep his gun-toting rapist paws off of her.  Her confused ‘feelings’ are degrading and humiliating to watch, speaking as a woman.

Hey, if the actor involved can admit it was rape (comment below from a James Scott interview),

I would be lying if I said I didn’t worry about my future on the soap. I don’t think they handled the rape very well, and I’ll tell you why. EJ raped Sami, and then afterwards, he’s hanging out in her house — alone with her. It’s irresponsible on so many levels. However, had it been handled well, I think it would have been an interesting story choice. Now the story focus has shifted to her pregnancy and the classic soap story of paternity. Having said that, I chose to believe that EJ is in love with Samantha — he just can’t communicate it.

and TPTB can admit it was rape, it was RAPE.  He forced her to have sex with him to save the life of the man she loved. You can read a decidedly pro EJami Wikipedia entry with Scott’s comments HERE (that is until someone decides to try to delete the comment).

As for DAYS increasingly dwindling ratings fortunes, is it any wonder that the new  focus on Sami and EJ is linked to a rather rapid ratings slide for the show? Good luck selling Ej and Sami as anything other than what they really are:  a victim and her obsessive, stalking, rapist.

* For most of the year (plus), All My Children has been largely unwatchable.   Color me surprised when I got gooey and nostalgic for Hayley and Mateo’s return (more Hayley than Mateo).  Watching Adam soften while talking with Hayley and joke about knowing something about raising  ‘difficult children’ was the most priceless moment of that episode for me – Hayley of the dyed dark punk rock hair, now a mother with a wild child of her own.  I thought about Brian Bodine,  Uncle Pork Chop (Trevor), Natalie down the well, Janet from another Planet, Adam’s dark dark days (which really were different from just his ‘dark’ days), Stuart and Cindy, scheming Arlene Vaughn, the Santos family – even preachy mom and dad, Edmund and Maria, Erica and Dimitri, Bad girl Kendall and sweetheart Del Cooney, The Martin clan, Jeremy, Laurel and her brother Michael, Cliff and Nina,  Palmer and Daisy, The Montgomery Brothers and their feud, Brooke English, Phoebe and  Langley, Chuck and Tara,  Beloved Mona and Myrtle, Ellen and Devon, Mark Dalton, Tom and Sean Cudahy, and so much more… sheesh).  I know that not all of the above mentioned characters were on screen at the same time but just those few moments with Adam and Hayley opened a stream of AMC consciousness  and I felt warm all over.   I miss All my Children – the real All my Children.

* At some point, BnB’s Brooke Logan’s children are going to have to acknowledge (or learn) that there was NO WAR between their mother and Stephanie Douglas.  Stephanie has been on the attack against Brooke almost from the moment she met her.  Brooke has tried in vain to make peace and keep peace.  Brooke does not seek Stephanie out to hurt her or make her miserable as Stephanie has done with her.  Brooke hasn’t made a point of trying t0  publicly expose Stephanie for whatever her wrongdoings are – and there are many.  Brooke hasn’t tried to turn Stephanie’s children against her, as Stephanie has tried to do with Brooke’s children.

To allow Brooke’s children to continue to think of Stephanie as ‘human’ feels like one of the daytime’s biggest lies.  Theirs has been daytime’s biggest farce of a rivalry.  A rivalry would require TWO participants.  It would require balance.  It has neither.  In any other galaxy, Stephanie would be acknowledged as the psychotic villainess -bully she’s always been.  Calling Stephanie a victim of Brooke’s would be the same as calling GH’s Helena Cassadine a victim of Alexis Davis… Hels only slit Alexis’ mother’s throat in front of her when she was a child and threatened her life every single day from that moment on.  The warm and toasty moments between Brooke’s children and the dragon lady leaves me switching channels.  When a crazed bee-yotch hands your mother an unregisted gun, while wearing white gloves, and tries to get her to take her life, she’s not your friend.  She’s not like a mother to you, she’s not human.  When that same woman facilitates your mother’s rape, you’re not suposed to ask her to be a part of your children’s lives.  Come on BnB writers, get a grip.