Being A NUbie…


Carolyn Aspenson 

I’m glad I’m on this side of the world of soaps. Imagine the tough skin some (if not all) of these actors must have to put up with us, the fans? Come on, let’s be honest here. We love our soaps but we’re also the first to trash them whenever we experience even an iota of dislike for a storyline, character, outfit, scene, breath. We’re brutal.  

I’m especially glad I’m not a NUbie. Can you imagine the angst the ‘replacements’ must initially feel, prior to acceptance or the security of making the character their own? Imagine the frustration at reading Carolyn Hinsley’s articles that blatantly trash the actor’s portrayal of a character formerly played by another actor. I don’t think I could read her comments. She’s rougher than sandpaper.  

With that in mind, I think it’s important to take a look at a few of the positives to a new actor in an old role. Whether we can see it at the time or not, usually we can come around to liking, or at least accepting the new actor and the changes to the character. Or should I say most of us can… 

Let’s talk about the ever popular character of Lucky Spencer first. Who out there doesn’t miss the incredible talent (and lips and eyes and cheekbones) of Jonathan Jackson? Kathy from EOS made me a GH tape with him on it and my heart still aches each time I pop it in the VCR. His acting abilities far outweigh any younger actor I’ve yet to see grace my TV screen, primetime, Disney and daytime included. But alas, he left. Off to movies and primetime and music. Oh, and Lisa, which I’m still spitting bullets over! So in comes Jacob Young. Good eye candy. Hair issues, but I think that was primarily an issue of the stylists, not his personally.  Or at least I hope! 

Jacob Young took Lucky into an arena of angst, confusion, anger, bitterness and dishonesty all caused by the kidnapping and brainwashing of Helena. Lucky was now a character based on anger, not loyalty and commitment. Not a character of heart but a character of bitterness. Quite frankly I’m glad JJ wasn’t here to play this side of Lucky. I didn’t enjoy the end of Lucky and Elizabeth and I certainly didn’t enjoy the “angry Lucky” brought on by the kidnapping. Though I’m confident JJ could have played this well, even better than Jacob Young, I’m glad he didn’t because I wouldn’t want to see Jonathan Jackson play a storyline I didn’t like. It might have soured me to his lovability and sense of loyalty. It might have ruined the character for me. Instead, I see a stranger playing Lucky and in the back of my mind I think “well, this isn’t the ‘real’ Lucky so whatever!” Yes, I was someone lost on the character and his actions but I still had “MY LUCKY” memories. One day, if Jonathan Jackson ever decides to return (which is likely the day a pig will undoubtedly fly right over the roof of my house!) he’ll be back to be the Lucky my heart reached out to for many years!  

Yes, there’s a NuNuLucky. But he’s not Lucky either. He’s a remake of Jacob Young. Sadly, I might add. I am a fan of Greg Vaughn. I loved him on Charmed and I actually like him on GH, but he’s simply not Lucky for me. The character is so different now, I see him as someone else entirely. Not as Lucky Spencer. Spoilers say Lucky will join the PCPD. I think this is a great direction to take a new Lucky. Perhaps he’ll stop the whining and yelling inspired by Jacob Young (who won an emmy for that, amazingly!) and develop his own rendition of Lucky, something closer to the Lucky Spencer I know and love. I see many possibilities with the character taking a new direction. This is the most positive thing about a recast. The character can change (in good and bad ways) because the actor has a different take on the personality. This different take allows us fans the opportunity to get more from the character. Getting more from the character leads me to my favorite, Carly.  

If you look back, you’ll see my column on Tamara Braun, whom I absolutely love as Carly. Since I wrote that column, I’ll keep my comments on her brief. But like I said originally, I don’t think Sarah Brown could have pulled off the sensitivity Tamara Braun has added to Carly. And let’s face it, for Sonny and Carly to stay together, she had to lighten up, be more compassionate and easy going. Otherwise we’d be continuously dealing with their break ups and reunions. Softening Carly gives us a chance at a longer relationship for the Mob couple. Well, soap land long, that is.  

Speaking of couples, let’s look at the NuEmily. Looks-wise, this gal has it goin’ on! She is absolutely beautiful in my book. I think her look is much more mature and together than Amber Tamblyn and that’s what Emily needs. The character is growing up. She can’t stay a teenager while her core group is drinking at the bars. (Okay, if you’re a child of the 70’s or 80’s reading this, I’m sure you’re saying, “Wait, I was a teenager drinking at the bars, so why can’t Emily?” You know what I’m talking about!!!) Natashia Livingston brings maturity and vulnerability to the character which allows Emily to go further within the show. She gives more depth to Emily than just a teenager filled with drama and rebellion. I can’t imagine Amber Tamblyn and OldNuNik kissing passionately as these two did last week. (There is a sort of ‘ew’ factor in that for me.) That kiss was hot! Their chemistry is right on and their characters are ‘equal’. OldEmily and OldNuNik to me would have stuck in my head as “young girl has crush on older guy” and it just wouldn’t work with this storyline.  

Storyline changes often dictate the need for a new actor to portray an old character. Can you imagine Zander and Gia if it were OldGia in the part? She was much too pretentious looking and portrayed her character in that same way…snobby. There is no way these two would hold their own scene if she were still cast as Gia. It took me quite some time to get used to this less glamorous, more intelligent Gia but I really like her now. She has a chance as a character. She has the opportunity for several avenues within her storyline now. (Which is important since all of her family has officially left the building!)  Gia as Zanders girlfriend, hiding the truth from him to keep him on her hook, Gia going to law school and bettering herself…Gia playing both bitch and nice girl works for this actor. Kudos to her for biting the bullet and making the character her own.  

There are a few characters so integrated into the show, their characters so much a part of the canvas that a replacement isn’t possible. The fans simply wouldn’t go for it. Luke Spencer, Skye Quartermaine, Laura Spencer, Frisco Jones, Felicia Jones, Tad Martin, Lucy Coe, Erika Kane, Jason Morgan, Sonny Corinthos.  These characters are just a few of the irreplaceable characters of daytime TV. Imagine a new Luke. Who in their right mind would be willing to take on such a task? Who would knowingly subject themselves to the torment and negativity millions of Luke Spencer/Tony Geary fans nationwide would inflict upon him? I can’t even begin to think of anyone that would be even adequate as Luke or any of the other characters just mentioned.  A temporary replacement for vacation, family emergency or something along that road, fine. But permanent? No way. Not gonna happen. The rebellion, the uprising, the strikes, the lootings. Daytime TV would never be the same. We’d be continually subjected to Maury, Ricki Lake, Jenny Jones and all the other TRUE trash TV out there. Soaps would be gone. Us, the devoted fans, would destroy it for ourselves with our evil uprising to get our beloved actor back. That my friends, would be a sad day in Soap Opera land.  

All in all, I can’t say I’ve enjoyed every recast I’ve seen over my tenure as a soap fan. There were some good and some, well, flat out awful. But I’ve learned to take it all with a grain of salt. As the saying goes, “The show must go on.” And if that means with a Nubie I’m not happy with, then that’s just the way it’s going to be. But as I’ve grown and matured (ever so slightly) I’ve come to the realization that these poor souls have got the worst of it. They’re not in the arena we are. They’re not watching themselves. They’re doing their job and trying their best to be good at it, make us happy and continue to invest in the character because after all they’ve got to make a living, support their families, eat! With that in mind I’ve tried my best to give them the benefit of the doubt and go with the flow. And I have to keep reminding myself, as my husband continually tells me, it’s only a soap opera.  

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