CAUTION: My girl, Carol, speaks her mind in a strong, brassy and vibrant fashion. If you are offended by straight talking, adult oriented language (sometimes, there's a "very" in there), please be aware that you may well find it here. Carol shoots from the hip and tells it like it is, pulling no punches and taking no prisoners. That's why I love her & why I hired her. If it's not your bag, let's part still friends and salute our differences in tastes (I'm sort of a strong strawberry flavor...) ~*~Katrina~*~
Don’t Be Like Me
friends are important in soaps. So why am I seeing nothing but isolated
couples and the isolated individual Greek chorus propping up those
couples? It can’t just be economics.
It occurred to me while watching the September 15th episode of GH – chock full of family reunions and family bonding – that I am a big fat honking hypocrite.
I’m always whining about soaps not featuring extended families enough, not showcasing the connections made by blood and through friendships. I’m always insisting soaps return to the golden days of yore when the community mattered, where characters knew their neighbors, interacted with more than their significant others. I’m always bemoaning the isolated cliques, as if summoned onto the planet by osmosis, hocus pocus and magic, without parents, grandparents, siblings, cousins.
And yet I personally live my life in such clique-ish isolation, concerned only with my immediate gratification, my husband and my son; that’s it, no room for you. If there’s spare time – meaning, they’re busy doing something else and there’s nothing else to do, nothing good on HBO – I may call up my best friend for a gab over donuts and several cups of drip in a downtown Seattle hang. Otherwise, I remain happily estranged from my only sibling, my ne’er-do-well younger brother, the abusive prick of a father I only learned in college was adoptive is six feet under, good fawking riddance, my mother’s packed far far away in Hawaii, too busy with her boyfriend to pester me for daily calls, since she was adopted too and her only parent, her mom, died a few years after my father did, and that is that.
My husband’s parents died within months of each other, February and June, his grandparents are long since dead, their relatives in Florida and New York hardly step out of their comfort zones to get together for anything. If a long-lost relation popped up, they wouldn’t notice and wouldn’t care.
On holidays, I pig out, and for weeks after, because it’s only the three of us, husband, son and me. We enjoy barbecues on Labor Day, Fourth of July, Memorial Day, if church friends invite us – like we’re homeless people. Otherwise, we’re on our own.
Friends? Most of ‘em are online, the rest, all of the one in downtown Seattle, checks up on me occasionally, like, maybe once a month, if I’m lucky.
I might as well be on an ABC daytime drama.
So why am I clamoring for a world I don’t live in, I can’t relate to, basically a world of fantasy in my lonely reality?
I guess because I grew up yearning for that ideal. I see families, friends, neighbors, a community strong in other people, co-workers, acquaintances here and there, when it’s the weekend or three months of summer vacation and I’ve nothing to do but stare at the four walls, wondering where everybody is, on- and off-line. They’re off spending their every waking leisure moment together with every known relative from one end of the continent to the other.
This explains their penchant for pairing up characters, dumping the leftovers, and in many cases, forcing a pairing simply on the basis of appearances (Journey, NEm, Antonio & Jessica), and their tendency to focus exclusively on developing their couples one on one, with a close friend providing the Greek chorus of a devoted fan base, outside of any familial ties or influences.
Every Thanksgiving and Christmas, I envy them, talking about hauling off the kids in the station wagon to visit grandma for a road trip to Ohio, preparing the fixings for an elaborate holiday party with cousins and second-cousins-twice-removed flying in from New York, Florida and Arizona. This past Labor Day, I sat with only a handful of church friends, while the rest of the invitees never showed up; they were off with their respective families out in the great beyond.
I miss that battalion of family and friends cooing over my kid, remarking that he looks like Uncle George, acts like cousin Bev, amazed that a slacker jerk-off like me, who couldn’t even pass basic Algebra because I was so in love with the quarterback in the front row, could produce such a perfect, beautiful, charming child, much less be a perfect, doting mom. I will probably miss them passing down their experienced words of wisdom, me going to them for advice, them proudly looking on, cheering me, being taken aback with admiration throughout my struggles and triumphs.
I don’t have to miss any of it when a soap opera is good, very good, and remains true to the family- and friend-based foundation. I’ve thrilled to GH’s Luke and Bobbie almost offhandedly saying that Carly wouldn’t go to the cops, she’s a Spencer, or Carly rising up in fury, in her Sarah Brown hippie speak, going to bat for her little nephew Lucky, one of her own, to OLTL’s Antonio and Cristian, these big, strapping young men, calling Carlotta their “mommy,” Asa deigning to accept another addition to the Buchanan clan, Matthew, by referencing the family’s trademark courage under fire and way with horses, or Dorian and Viki grudgingly allowing that each has helped shaped the other in their rivalrous years, Dorian of all people moving heaven and earth, doing what she does best under the worst of circumstances, sneaking around and forcing Ben to die already so Viki could be spared the loss of a heart, to AMC’s Tad admitting Jamie is more like him every day, as the two engage in a father and son verbal contest to out-wit the other, David receiving Leo as his younger half-brother, noting some resemblances with reluctant but definite respect, watching that young boy who couldn’t even add grow into a fine young man who finally put an end to their mother’s madness, Erica opening her arms to the daughter she’d always hated because her own rape caused the birth in the first place...
This stuff is important, because, deeper than the thrill of recognition and acknowledgement, the giving and receiving of love and respect based on familiarity, the shared experiences of comrades... families and friends are who will remember you when you’re long gone, a legacy of eternity, and every human being yearns for that. It’s what makes life meaningful, worth having gone through.
I mean, look at Norman Rockwell’s infamous painting about the entire clan of several generations gathering around the table for turkey and pumpkin pie! If that doesn’t symbolize the American ideal, I don’t know what does... except soaps.
My paternal (adoptive) grandmother, mother (and eventually me alongside them) used to religiously watch the kind of soaps that reflected the norm, which were families and friends, community ties and neighborhood connections, not me and my anti-social, Victorian/modernist belief that I’d be better off without parents, just hatched from an egg and given enough money to survive the rest of my days.
Talk shows forever herald the family reunions, the mother searching years for the child she gave up for adoption, the twins separated at birth, given to two different families, finally making contact, the high school graduate hooking up with his childhood sweetheart and a couple best friends he lost touch with back in grade school. Primetime and movies are bastions for the hearth, home and nearby coffee shop of gatherings, groups. Soaps do the same. Or, they did, before number crunchers deemed the downward ratings not worthy of the cost.
But is it really so expensive to put more than a duo together in one room? It’s been done, as recently as GH’s September 14th episode, and as lately as Lila’s summer memorial service. Whenever a beloved character dies, a cavalcade of family, friends and neighbors are summoned, and the writing for the good-bye suddenly, miraculously perks up, hitting all major historic and motivational points.
The motivation of TPTB is probably to zero in on the instant chemistry between a male and a female character, milk it immediately for all its worth, work the fan bases to a frenzy, and possibly make a mark on the Nielsen’s that way, in a desperate attempt to make some mark, any mark. Since the 1980s, ratings for soaps have been at a steady decline, viewers have turned off, gone back to work, turned to other entertainment distractions, primetime, cable. Naturally, daytime execs are scrambling to keep up, find the magic combination, re-play past successes – usually a successful romantic pairing – and fast. They don’t have time to mess with the build-up, the support, the genuine conflicts that make lasting impressions (Luke raping Laura)... they have a couple to create to save their jobs. This explains their penchant for pairing up characters, dumping the leftovers, and in many cases, forcing a pairing simply on the basis of appearances (Journey, NEm, Antonio & Jessica), and their tendency to focus exclusively on developing their couples one on one, with a close friend providing the Greek chorus of a devoted fan base, outside of any familial ties or influences.
But familial ties and influences are necessary to giving any couple, new or existing, depth, body, history, reference points. The only couple I know of without it were Adam and Eve, and we all know how that turned out.
For example, I find I care more for OLTL’s Antonio and Jessica when their family’s involved, Natalie concerned when her twin sister is crying over Antonio’s slight, Bo can’t help but lend a hand when Jessica’s frantic about Antonio’s whereabouts, John takes a moment out of his coffee, beer and pussy fetishes to look remotely perturbed about Antonio going dark. Same goes for GH’s NEm, who are more interesting when Monica argues with Emily about the extremes she goes to in defending a recently interned Nikolas, or when Lucky and Elizabeth converge at the PCPD to prevent Emily from spilling her guts to Ric about Mary’s murder. AMC’s baby-switch story is all the more riveting, because David, Tad, Adam and by lesser extension, Brooke and Erica are dragged into the mess. Family and friends can do much more for a trumpeted couple than any fan base, anytime, anywhere; if they care, then maybe I should to.
Luke and Laura return from hiding with Lucky, making the rounds. Case closed.
What prompted this commentary in the first place is my eager embrace of that Tuesday GH episode last week, as Dillon and Brook Lynn commiserated over their dysfunctional families, his missing father, the fantasy of Paul arranging the music video directing of the young boy’s dreams, of Paul declaring his pride in his son... her divorced parents, the fantasy of her walking downstairs to open a gift of a beautiful dress, the one her parents would have her wear to their re-marriage... Brook Lynn dissolving in tears, Dillon comforting her, stoicism etched on his earnest face... Audrey bragging on her grandson, the hard-working Steven Lars Webber, to an appreciative, respectful Alan, who took over Steve Hardy’s position as chief of staff, later Elizabeth sprinting over for a huge, warm hug from her big brother, Elizabeth warning Steve of the presence of his nutty mother Heather, coldly warning Heather of Steve’s prescience... Georgie, in a hilariously wacky, mostly expressive, scene, blasting her parents Mac and Felicia for finally doing right by her and Maxie, taking time out of their busy schedules to tend to their every teenaged needs, working out their differences to reunite as romantic partners and parents, when she feels so left out of the dysfunctional, broken family picture painted by Dillon and Brook Lynn... Carly being a mother to her two sons, switching arms and positions to hold a rambunctious little baby and looking aghast at the bravado and forwardness of her oldest seven-year-old to a complete stranger...
Seeing such family-oriented scenes treated so casually, so irreverently, so lovingly by the writers, tweaked and allowed by the executive producer and the ABC Daytime president jolted me immediately out of my numb couple and promotional campaign overload, to give me an even more dangerous emotion than pleasure: Hope.
Now that they’ve got me hoping for more, I cannot help but wish some of that family finesse on the other ABC soaps. OLTL, especially, needs it, as core characters suffer their individual breakdowns (or with newcomer strangers) apart from family and friends, leaving a trail of dissatisfaction and boredom.
I just got through such an ordeal last week, what with Antonio reading Angelina’s (wait, Isabella’s) letter revealing everything, that he’s really evil Puerto Rican mob boss Manuel Santi’s firstborn, that she’s really his presumed-killed mother Isabella, that Tico, his little brother, is to be forgiven, that everything he knew had been a lie. He remembered, alone, his real mother calling him her “little lion” while he, as a tiny tot, played with her medallion, the same medallion he saw later when he thought he first met Angelina’s acquaintance. In another part of town, Jessica begs her uncle Bo to help save Antonio from himself while John looks dispassionately at his coffee cup, then she drops by Lion’s Heart to beat Tico’s chest then fall helplessly into his arms, crying over Antonio, a few minutes later, they together go over plans for the heart benefit until the morning sun rises again. Sonia barges into a non-descript hotel room Antonio’s holed up at, insisting she stay and help by telling El Lion he’s still the same good, decent man he always was, raised by good, decent parents – the stuff Jessica should be telling him, backed up by Carlotta and the citizens who knew him when he first transformed from a gang leader into lawyer potential.
Over on another galaxy, Kelly continues whining about her stolen son Ace to whomever is stuck listening, at this point, it’s David, wasted on this terrible miscast, while Paul amps up his next series of blackmail attempts which will, most likely, finally land his sorry butt in the morgue. Viki’s on an extended vacation, all Dorian is allowed to do is throw worthless accusations at Kevin and beg Todd for vengeance, while keeping her wedding to David on hold. Bo hasn’t had any since Gabrielle got executed (when Natalie acknowledged his similar loss of a spouse, for a second there, I blanked out and thought, “Sarah?!”). Just when Nora and Daniel start making in-roads, they backburner them again. Same with Rex, Lindsay, R.J. I don’t even know when Antonio and John had a falling out over the Santi case, did they? All Marcie does is nag, lecture, berate in high decibel, manic states, leaving Michael to do nothing but take the bait, bear the brunt, and not enjoy a story of his own with his family (that’s what you fan bases get for saving the actor’s job).
At least on AMC, family is relatively important and intact. Adam and JR against the world. The Kane women, Erica and Bianca cautioning, then comforting Kendall. Jackson torn between his fatherly devotion to daughter Greenlee and almost daughter by marriage Kendall. Zach/Alexander Cambias Jr. trying to ruin everybody’s lives because they ruined his dead brother Michael’s. Maria and Anita confronting each other about their marriages, and their past, while fighting attractions to other men. Tad, Krystal and David forced to confront their own responsibilities as parents in light of deaths in their families. Jamie proving to Tad and Brooke he’s a chip off both their blocks, in the best, but at times, most risk-taking sense. Reggie remembering his dead mother, dead of addictions he could do nothing to ease, prompting his almost blind rage at the people responsible for Jamie’s stabbing. I mean, the list goes on here.
While AMC has often steered off-course in the hunt for youth demographically enhanced ratings (Fusion’s What Women Want, hot new young hunks of Pine Valley, Sexiest Man Contest), it’s never faltered where families, friends, enemies and community are concerned, never. During the worst of the Fusion mess, under an entirely different regime, at least they had friendships forming amongst women, unheard of in today’s daytime and a refreshing change of pace from the usual jealous circles over a man.
In Pine Valley, it matters when a long-lost son declares his roots – Zach will risk everything to protect Ethan, when a long-lost daughter pesters her biological mother for the love she never truly felt from her adopted parents – and look how Kendall turned out, needing her mother Erica’s (of all people) guidance, to do right by Ryan, when long-lost relatives crawl out of the woodwork and sometimes are left irreparably damaged, or downright dead. People care in that town. They did when Bianca was raped, then defended herself from a second and final attack in a murder rap. They did when David and Anna’s daughter Leora passed away from surgical complications. They did when Babe nearly died on the operating table after JR slipped her too much of a drug at SOS.
In Port Charles, they’d just barely look up, then return to their heated conversations about Sonny, Emily, murder this, mob that, wedding whatever... concerned only with their own couple status, their own inner clique of makeshift families based on mob ties. Robert Scorpio, Laura Spencer, Stefan Cassadine, Miguel Morez, Brenda Barrett could all show up arm in arm singing Kumbaya, and nobody would raise an eyebrow, widen an eye, open a mouth, nobody would even glance up. They didn’t for Lucky.
In Llanview, they might make a caustic comment or lob a crass one-liner between many beers and bitter coffee, but they’d go back to their regularly scheduled isolation tanks. Because their personal crisis of the moment, come one day, gone the next, picked up by another disaster of the week, means more than caring and reaching out to their fellow man. Juxtapose the self-centered, self-important mini-soap operas of this once family-based show against the community that held itself together, come hell, high water, a gang rape, or gay rights, of the 1980-90s... and it’s enough to make me cry. As I recall, everybody in that small town came together to help Reverend Andrew fight Marty’s false accusations, then Marty fight off the repercussions of frat boys gang-raping her. What happened to Antonio in Angel Square, as well as Angel Square residents themselves, mattered to those living in nicer parts of town, Nora and Bo went out on a limb to provide Antonio with another way out of the gangs, Hank and R.J. stood in the way, the Buchanans and Lords learned more about, then accepted, the Vegas, assisted in procuring the Diner for Carlotta.
While it may be easier to live a life of seclusion, keeping to oneself – the way I prefer – it’s also lonelier, emptier and not ideal. Because as wrapped up as we all tend to get with our little crushes and grand romances, off- and on-screen, developing soulless tunnel vision while we’re at it, we may want our couples and our cliques, but we need our families, friends and community.
Soaps recognized that a long time ago. It’s time some of those soaps remember.
Thorsten Kaye (Zach) and William deVry (Michael) used to work together on the now-defunct PC, as good friends Ian and Tim. They had one or two bar scenes in New York, discussing the supernatural in a natural, back to basics manner – not easy. Yet, it didn’t occur to me until after the September 14th show on AMC, when I caught them together, as brothers, one dead, the other still in mourning, as easygoing as if they’d known each other forever, going, Dang! These actors are good!... until it hit me that they did PC before, that Kaye showed soap newcomer deVry the ropes and the two got along famously. Forgive me, I’m slow.
But not as slow as Babe. God, I love her good intentions, soft heart and willingness to own up to her stupid acts (like choosing JR over Bianca), but sometimes, her innate selfishness grates on the selfless part of me that would rather see the right thing done at any cost. It’s what I abide by in my own personal life; the sacrifices, the denial of the self, the ID, the ego, for the betterment of others, almost to a fault. So when she announced to Tad, Krystal, David, Bianca, Jamie and JR that she would remain in a loveless marriage with the latter, I was as shocked, frustrated and fed up as the rest of you. Turns out, in her selfish nebulous way of not thinking, Babe is buying time until she’s sure little Ace in OLTL’s Llanview is really hers, has the means to bring him safely home, finagle full custody, dump JR, and then take her punishment like a man. Only... had she handed over Bess (Miranda) the second Krystal admitted the baby wasn’t hers, none of this need happen. [In a cross-promotional lovefest, please read Cynical Kate Brown’s latest Babe homage, hee, hee.]
Watching JR be intentionally cruel, sinking to the lowest common denominator, twisting the knife verbally for the deepest cuts, sneering, scoffing and surly, it occurred to me that he’s almost worse than the deceased rapist Michael Cambias, who could learn a few tricks on how to reduce people to nothing but trash, the JR way... except for the rape thing, and at this point, I wouldn’t put it past JR to commit that crime as well.
Taking an inadvertent cue from GH’s goody-two-shoes media darling (Natalia Livingston/Emily), Eden Riegel (Bianca) recently commented about her character’s possible reaction to the news that Zach will turn out to be Alexander Cambias Jr. in hiding, the older brother of the man who raped her. She actually said the following: “One of the remarkable things about Bianca is that she doesn’t judge; she would never dismiss somebody just because of their name. She sees something very special in Zach.” [SOD, Sept. 21] Uh, does the name Kendall ring any bells? Bianca judged her immediately, because she purported to be Erica’s oldest daughter.
Heckling pest alert! On every show, there is at least one stereotypically girly-girl character that I loathe with every fiber of my being, the unintentional villain, the supposed popular but really snobby chick everybody knows in high school, the kind I always wanted to haul off and send to the ER. I’m not talking about the holier-than-thou Biancas held to their own higher standard, put up on a pedestal by all of Pine Valley, bad enough, but quite expected in soaps. I’m talking about her sidekick Maggie who, for some reason beyond my comprehension, has captured the devotion of a legion of Bam fans yearning for her and Bianca’s consummation, reaching Inc. (ick) status.
I don’t care for Maggie’s inappropriate, insensitive, superficial, shallow comments when she should just shut up and rub Bianca’s shoulder. Maggie’s the one most likely to try and create some melodramatic high school clubbish molehill over something as profound and bigger than her little crush and her little jealous rampages, like, say, the death of Bianca’s baby... attack like a guard dog if she suspects anyone of violating her and Bianca’s hallowed love that dare not speak its name, even if that someone is full of good intentions or a relative. Maggie has no honor or loyalty or sense of values, other than the tingling in her genital region. Or if her declaration of love has been gently, respectfully turned down by the object of her affection, gets all snappy, dismissive and obvious (ooh look what you missed out on!) at Bianca when she barges in on a make-out session with Jonathan, treating her supposed best friend like a social leper who dared show up to the prom in last year’s fashions.
That’s the problem with Maggie. She’s so high school, in every low-brow, common, banal sense of the word. I can’t understand what Henry, Carlos or now, Jonathan, wants with her when she’s not even a woman but a petty, catty little girl, the one always clamoring to be let in on the in crowd and willing to sink to any lengths to get there. Maybe Jonathan’s using her as a convenient distraction, since she’s so easy to get to. Let’s face it, she’s only giving him the time of day to show off to Bianca that she’s so over yesterday’s gay dabbling. THAT’S how stupidly superficial immature Maggie is. Hey, hon, Bianca is a woman, not a toy. And, less mascara is more.
Stories I don’t care about:
1. The Santi mob. Tico and Sonia are under-developed and unlikeable, lose ‘em. This reminds me too much of GH’s Sonny worship. Besides, what kind of a payoff is that teaser when Antonio’s real mother ends up dying before any connections are made in the aftermath of the reveal? I certainly don’t need this story subtitled, like it’s a genuine foreign film. That’s an insult to foreign films everywhere. And it ain’t authentic either, if the acting sucks.
2. Todd and Blair take over Asa’s mansion. Without family ties on Asa’s end—Renee’s nothing but the hired hotel help—or deeper interaction between Todd and Blair beyond that of petty conspiratorial children, the heart, soul, drama and comedy of two complex anti-heroes is lost on me.
3. Natalie and Paul’s whatever. Paul is nothing but a two-bit con, looking for his next score. He reminds me of my greedy, selfish, conceited loser of a brother, out for #1, with the IQ but not the common sense to earn a living, keep a roof over his head, food on the table, and not keep blowing his money on stupid things [my little bro: “Can I have $1,500 to buy back the guitar I pawned, I pawned because I wanted to buy another guitar?”]. And Paul’s fast dragging down Natalie as nothing but an enabling bimbo (however much I’ve enjoyed her half-naked state).
4. Kelly as under-whelmingly, monotonously played by the overrated Heather Tom. She brings nothing to the role as the second recast, absolutely nothing. Instead of kooky, offbeat, giddy humor, hysterical excitement and tender family devotion bordering on co-dependent, ala Gina Tognoni’s original, Tom just sits there looking constipated, sour and pissed off, snapping at loved ones, taking their sacrifices for granted, giving me no indication that she cares about anything except the latest crisis. Sound familiar? It is. Her name is Victoria Newman (Y&R).
AMC’s Babe kissed little Ace, Babe being a complete stranger to his father Kevin. I’d have raised my eyebrow on that one. But then, if I were as stressed as he was trying to tend to a fussy baby in the middle of a hotel restaurant, I wouldn’t notice either.
Great. More justification – he’s Manuel Santi’s firstborn! – for Antonio to clench and fume, huff and puff. Thank God for R.J. and his stabilizing influence. More proof that Timothy D. Stickney should have this story, not Kamar de los Reyes. R.J. – and him telling Antonio to say good-bye and I love you to his own daughter first – did more to lend credibility to Antonio’s mistaken-identity angst than all of Antonio’s hilarious anger management.
Another problem plaguing OLTL is the characters commit atrocious acts unlike themselves, based on nothing but an attempt to drive a shocking plot twist (that resolves by the end of the week). Ergo, Asa telling Blair that her pre-teen daughter Starr is destined to be a slut like her mother, prompting Blair to go over the edge and pound the old coot over the head with a candlestick holder, knocking him out flat. Asa would never attack a little girl like that, not the little girl he once collaborated with to kick Max out of the mansion (remember the snake and their giggles, his pride?). But since he’s over-40, TPTB figure nobody’ll notice the discrepancy or the character assassination.
Oh and Blair dragged Asa’s body all the way into her car. Um hmm... and on AMC, Adam’s still in the crate with food and water, but no toilet. [If that were me in there, I’d have died within an hour of poop asphyxiation.]
I love my man Tuc Watkins (David) dearly, but I had to wonder if he meant Gina Tognoni’s Kelly when he talked upcoming storyline with the press, saying his character inevitably would be drawn toward protecting and, loving, such a fruitcake... they’re both in sync that way. I don’t think he’s referring to fruitcake clinically either, but in an endearing, goofy, daffy, hyper way. The Kelly TPTB saddled OLTL with, Heather Tom, wouldn’t know fruitcake if her Christmas tree were festooned with the stuff. (That made sense at 10 p.m. last night.)
Tom fans insist the actress is doing “madness” justice. I, however, do not see madness, but a cover by TPTB, stepping in to fix Tom’s version of Kelly as just an ungrateful, uptight little brat whose only concern is with the stress of the minute, keeping Kevin, keeping Ace, retrieving Ace, blinkly blindly at David, snapping at everybody else. [See GH’s Kelly Monaco as Sam McCallgirl.] I saw this same thing with Tom’s version of Y&R’s Victoria, Victor’s supposed heroic headstrong daughter. Sorry, people, not buyin’.
David’s just been thrown in with Kelly, IMHO, as a last-ditch effort to save Heather Tom’s Kelly from a pink slip. His bosses probably figure, if this guy can’t liven her up, nobody can. But maybe in two weeks, we’ll all find out that Kelly was sexually abused as a child, suffers from mild retardation and was raised by a pack of wolves, with Jesus Christ Himself come down from heaven to vouch for her goodness... just to amp up the sympathy meter.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but Bo and John had no idea of Angelina’s true identity. Then, in the September 15th episode, Antonio casually spills that he’s Manuel Santi’s firstborn after all, and not one reaction from Bo, not shock, not confusion, nothing.
Also in that episode, to top off a snooze of a waste of my 40 minutes, I had to sit through Evangeline flirting with Antonio in his hour of huffing, puffing and making dour faces (you should see my two-year-old son mock him, laugh, point and say, “’Tonio funny!”), and acting all coy about John, broadcasting – as if she had to boast – that they are not joined at the hip, but “enjoying the ride.” Insert eyeroll and hacking here.
[A special note to the Evangeline fans accusing me of being racist against inter-racial couples, simply because I think the character is a self-important, shallow, conceited little whore who has yet to own up to R.J. for cheating on him with a practical stranger: I am Asian, my husband is Caucasian, I’m about as racially against inter-racial couples as I would be ready to join the KKK. My disgust with Evangeline and John has everything to do with TPTB’s continual need to screw R.J. up the buttocks and screw him out of a storyline, much less a love scene when it’s called for, and nothing to do with race. If I’m forced to choose, it’ll always be R.J.]
History was made when Sonny pulled Coleman into the hotel room and started in on his Al Pacino impersonation. Instead of cowering as all Mo’s, er, I mean, Sonny’s victims do, Blake Gibbons’ Coleman stood tall and seemed almost personally pissed off himself, outside the written script, like Maurice Benard finally pushed the wrong dude too far. Don’t let the ‘60s threads and the pathetic hair style change to ‘fro fool you, Coleman may act the part of an easygoing, womanizing sleaze and mob coward, but at least in that scene the other week, he’s got a steel cock longer, harder and fiercer than the great, bellowing, dark-eyed intense and on the verge of losing it, Sonny Corinthos.
Sonny takes the fastest showers in the East. He went in right before Carly answered the door, then tried to get rid of John Durant, which took all of two minutes, tops, when Sonny comes right back out, wrapping a towel around his waist, leaving Carly all a’flutter (oh, please).
Sonny is also blessed with the psychic-smarts while the one lone Fed sent undercover by Durant, disguised as a hotel maid, is not. She knocks on the door, asks to turn down the bed, Sonny says the bed’s already turned down, she persists by offering a complimentary pillow, Sonny goes to the door, saying something sitcom-ish about her really winning him over with that temptation, opens it, the maid comes in, no complimentary pillow. She instead leaves a listening device on the nightstand, just one, gets caught by Sonny, who promptly finds it – doesn’t think to look for more – as well as a Federal Agent badge in her right pocket, just to be sure that a) Sonny is smart, b) the Feds are dumb, c) the audience is dumber, and d) it’s clear that this maid is really an undercover federal agent.
The best story on GH involves Lorenzo, Lois, Ned, Brook Lynn and Dillon, in the aftermath of Sage’s death. This is the first adult story to speak volumes to me in ages, and feels less like a promotional ploy or a supercouple campaign than an accidental mixture of good acting, inter-generational family ties under the youth demographic radar and a multi-faceted ability of a teenaged girl, Adrianne Leon (Brook Lynn), to emote as well as sing, as well as write songs. As a result, I’m filling up on my guilty pleasure, watching Lorenzo treat Lois like garbage, to avoid treating himself to a hard look in the mirror, and Ned maybe growing cajones, going after his ex-wife...before TIOC discover the mistakes they’ve made in a) not making this about Sonny, b) focusing too much on three adults instead of the teens and Georgie’s latest low-self-esteem-prompted angst, and c) forgetting to remind us that Lorenzo only loves Carly, however unforgettable she is.
NEm gets engaged... I could barely stomach Nikolas calling the extras at Kelly’s to witness him bending down on one knee, Emily staring daggers at him, eyebrows furrowed, the way she always does to a perceived enemy, aka an interloper interfering with her Nikolas smooch time, and asking her to marry him. Or Emily later on informing Elizabeth with a smug, toothy, ain’t we cute smile on her face while clutching Nikolas’ arm for dear life—as if she would lose him if she let go.
As a bit of nauseatingly upbeat (but continually clueless on the downbeat effects to much of the audience) background, I recalled an ABC Soaps in Depth interview (Sept. 28) conducted by Rosemary A. Rossi on Emily’s Natalia Livingston, where the young actress waxed effusive on every single aspect of her tenure on GH, translating the accelerated plot points that reek of propping up a mediocre pairing into powerful points for Emily, in making her stronger; her annoying cloying reputation as the perfect, good one into a means for bragging about the character’s tendency to butt heads when her loved ones are threatened as proof that she’s anything but perfect, clearly indicating, however, that her imperfect, hotheaded traits are to be admired, not condemned. Even when trying to be among the little people with her character flaws, Livingston can’t help but turn it into reasons why she thinks Emily is so wonderful. Here, read: “She vents a lot. She’s not little Miss Perfect where she holds it together all the time. She cries; she yells at people; she goes through the whole gamut of emotions. She’s also not afraid to hold back. She has fears, but she overcomes them. She deals with them. She fights. She doesn’t sit back. She tries to take the higher road, but it’s never passive. She’s active in her life. It’s a passion for being alive. I love that about her.” Sounds like little Miss Perfect to her.
Either Livingston is so relieved to land a steady job as an actress after trying so hard, spending too much money on head shots to the point of being broke, and afraid to rock the boat with the kind of self-deprecation inherent in a critical thinker (and hence, layered performer able to get the nuances of the grays)... or she doesn’t have a freakin’ clue and really, truly thinks everything is wonderful about GH, her story, her pairing and her character. She’s as unpalatable a read as ABC Daytime president Brian Scott Frons’ latest pimpfest. But probably their best cheerleader.
“Steven is really liquid,” said Shaun Benson of his recast character, Dr. Lars Webber. Only... Steven is also related to Elizabeth, Audrey, Heather and a host of other characters. Steven could be a major character with many familial and friendly ties. But the sole reason for him being back in Port Charles where he grew up is to... bring Sonny down?! What a missed opportunity, and yet another excuse for TPTB to pimp its mob fetish.
Stop the presses. Sonny apologized to someone, and Sam no less. Jason convinced him, with a gentle delivery, but still a chastisement just the same, to leave her alone and give her a little credit for trying to leave him alone. This must have been the infamous fight scene spoiled about – and rumored to be toned down by Jason’s and Sonny’s portrayers. If it resulted in Sonny halfway realizing what a self-centered dick he is, to both Sam and Jason, I’m all for it. I’ve just about had enough of Sonny going on about what this has cost him and what his rights are... he needs to extend the apology to Jason, long overdue, for taking his son Michael and his best friend Carly away.
I almost choked on my lunch when Sonny matter-of-factly told Carly that she’d changed from the vindictive beeyotch she used to be when she came to town solely for the purposes of ruining her mother Bobbie’s life. Um, Sarah Brown’s Carly might’ve changed, but Tamara Braun’s shallow end of the lame pool version never will. Can you picture her Carly forgiving Bobbie, going all soft and mushy inside, giving a little and remotely understanding context, conflict? Nah, neither can I.
As Tams lit into Shaun, I mean, Carly lit into Steven for not paying attention and looking at her when she bellows – taking a liberal tip from Mo’s air-hogging, life-sucking acting technique – venting her betrayed fury at him daring to enter the police force, I wondered what kind of a world we’d live in if GH’s were the norm. Mobsters and their enforcers act as the heroes and the cops and DAs act as the criminals, cheating, money laundering, ordering hits, leaving widows and their children, stealing from decent, law-abiding citizens would be considered honorable and sticking to the letter of the law would be abominable, grounds for the electric chair. Our world as we know it would be mass chaos, disorder and hell on earth. I know these soap stars are acting, but how do they face real-life cops, DAs, in a post-9/11 society with a straight face, knowing they’re indulging in their petty egotistical little fantasies while the true heroes are out there facing death, terrorism and horror everyday?
It’s why Carly, as played with unadulterated, straight-faced conviction by Tams, is a joke and always will be. She is as much a criminal as her law-breaking scum-sucking husband.
On second thought, Seattle’s lousy police department isn’t that far off PCPD’s in their inability to put criminals away. Any bozo with the balls to give a sheriff the middle finger in the middle of a carjacking can get away with it, just show up, and be released the very next day, no questions asked.
The disconnect between affable child actor Dylan Cash and his obnoxious, spoiled Sonny wannabe Michael showed itself in the September 14th episode in two different scenes, of two different sides of the boy. On the docks, Michael bragged that he’d one day take over the coffee import business from his father, with Morgan, introducing himself to Steven as Michael Corinthos the Third, oozing satanic punk demon seed. Later, at Kelly’s, Michael goes, “Ew! Yuck!,” like a real kid would, not a strange evil alien form, when Big Mike asks if he wants a tofu burger. I think I know how this happens. It’s no fault of Cash, who’s more charming, innocent kid than what’s written on the page. Co-head writer Charles Pratt helped create ABC’s newest fall season primetime drama, Desperate Housewives, and in the previews, I see mini-Michael Corinthoses in several of the children, children of the dutiful housewife token. THAT’S WHAT PRUZA THINKS IS ENTERTAINING—TURN A SEVEN-YEAR-OLD INTO THE ANTI-CHRIST!
As Nikolas crowed to his lady love Emily about their untouchable, pure love and how he didn’t care about the disapproval or the whispered gossip (that they’re marrying to avoid indicting each other in the Mary murder trial), I yelled at my TV screen, “If you don’t care about anybody but your precious Emily then why are you on the show?!” He and Emily then proceeded to self-indulgently, self-importantly whine about having to perform in a lavish wedding ceremony, having to invite so many of their alleged family and friends, when he’d just as soon elope, because, it’s obvious to me that NEm don’t care about anybody else but each other. By all means, Nik, go and elope, take an extended honeymoon in Mexico and set up roots in Greece. I personally would rather never see you or Emily again for the rest of my soap-viewing days. I’ve HAD it with this couple.
Later in the week, Nikolas turned in a nauseating Emily impersonation as Mac questioned her about the Mary murder case and as Helena and Tracy waltzed in talking lilies for NEm’s upcoming wedding. He kept interrupting to assert his version of the events, to keep Emily from spilling her guts, and acting very much the arrogant prick who thinks his fecal matter don’t stink. Of course Nikolas comes from arrogant stock, but in NEm’s case, it’s unbearable and beyond villainous range. He just strikes me as a smug, self-important, uptight !@#$^^%!
The funniest, most charming episode last week was on Wednesday, September 15. When the writers put their collective mind to it, they can do both endearingly poignant and outrageous, better than any other soap on the canvas. And they did more than enough justice with Lois and Lorenzo, Dillon, Brook Lynn and Lois, Elizabeth, Heather and Steve, Coleman and Steve, Ric and Alexis, Sam and Jason, Faith and Justus (I skip everything Sonny & Carly for my basic mental health).
I LOL when Brook Lynn made the Britney moves to her Sage ballad, to mock the up-tempo dance music Simon’s forced on her, as Dillon vogued along, and Lois tried not to split a gut herself.
I barely put myself back together when Ric and Alexis (when Lois joined them the day before for a fast-talking defense of Lorenzo, leaving even Alexis speechless) went at it on his desk, after they went back and forth about little Kristina having to wear glasses at age 2 just like her mother did when she was 8. Ric looking confused as Alexis babbled on about handicaps for her daughter at such an early age, since he suffered too, no wonder he turned out the way he did, insult after elaborate, incoherent rationalizations for flipping out over this minor health set-back... priceless. I almost lost the clench in my bowels the week before just catching Ric biting his lower lip, bobbing his head and needling Alexis about needing to be around him constantly.
Elizabeth facing off with a strangely impersonal Heather exhibited more dramatic flair in portrayer Rebecca Herbst than in almost her entire GH tenure since the late ‘90s. It’s a wonder why Herbst isn’t working more. And no, I don’t buy the party line that she’s too busy with her children.
Sam and Jason step out of the hospital elevator, bantering lightly about him joining her in birthing classes, Jason barely hides his enjoyment at the clever insults Sam lodges at Alexis over her latest case, fist covering his smirking face... all indicate the perfect beginnings of a solid friendship, just as portrayer Steve Burton previewed, promised and (probably insisted upon in those infamous rumored revisions). In this one case, I bow to his expertise. It’s better to take this pairing slowly, as friends first, developing an understanding and mutual respect for what the other goes through on a daily basis. They proved it worked two weeks ago when Jason correctly called it about Sam’s feeling overwhelmed by Sonny’s possessive, territorial nature—without her saying a word to him. I’m sure both actors would rather not jump to any hasty conclusions just to satisfy the panic-stricken execs clamoring for a ratings spike and a surefire fanbase winner. They failed doing that with Jam and IMHO, miserably worse with Journey.
Faith wanting to reform and Justus providing every opportunity for that to happen have won me over, except, it would be nice if they’d chat about all of her transgressions, starting as far back as poisoning her own grandmother dead up to as recently as shooting Jax in the leg with a look of orgasmic triumph on her face. Maybe a few words of remorse, reasoning, however far-fetched and self-serving, something to indicate the growth from cartoon evil into a fully-fledged human being.
Any scene Coleman’s in, is a good day. He can improve almost any character’s image (Sonny’s a lost cause). His intro of the denizens of PC with new boy in town, Steven, could only help. Besides, I can’t hear enough of the bar owner’s retro-‘60s-speak. Threads, dude.
I swooned, my vaginal lips drowning with pulsating excitement after Lois told Lorenzo off, Lorenzo dutifully, nobly took it, and later, confided in Dillon – who described just such a great love story in the making with LoLo, in people from different worlds, colliding – that after losing his first girlfriend, his brother, (Carly to Sonny for the millionth time), and now niece Sage to death, because of his inability to take care of them, he can no longer survive another loss of someone he allows to matter to him. This love story, oddly played on the outskirts of the main ones about Carly’s father going after Sonny and NEm’s curse on the way to the altar, stands out personally for me, hitting all the relatable beats and reminding me of the Lorenzos in my past as I played conflicted Lois in her eyes...
SOME OF THE GREATEST LOVE STORIES IN THE WORLD...
Ever since Lorenzo looked taken aback by the overwhelming speed and verbosity of Lois when first haggling over a deal for his niece Sage, I’ve been hooked on this couple.
Unlike a lot of posting fans, I lie in wait for the appearance of either, especially Lois. Under the original, Rena Sofer, she was okay sometimes, annoying at others and rarely able to touch my soul. I just generally found her long nails, Brooklyn accent and in-your-face brashness a bit too shticky and obnoxious, all accessory, no heart.
Lesli Kay, however, immediately won me over from the first moment she slapped Ned, voice full of fury, pale blue eyes a trembling mass of uncertainty, maybe even unrequited love. This versatile actress just came from ATWT, where she played ultimate bad girl Molly with edge, verve and just a hint of compassion, when it suited her.
She proved to me that she can do heroine equally well, so I am never ever bored the way I am with those self-proclaimed heroines who never fail to beat their own goody-two-shoes drum in their irritating holier-than-thou passive-aggressive manner (sorry Natalia, your Emily ain’t no aggressive fighter to me, but a pathetic, obtuse loser). She really uses what Sofer relied on as shticks to carry her along, but in Kay’s able hands, they always come off as part and parcel of the deeper whole, the core of the strong but fragile human being Lois Cerullo is, full of assertive assurance, but a total softie inside, still yearning for that one, intimate, knowing lover to unlock the rest of her.
Enter, Lorenzo, bruised and battered from Carly using him to get back with Sonny. Why that complicated, intelligent, morose, internal man ever even looked twice at a bullying, callous, cold-hearted, Sonny-obsessed cretin in the first place will remain, for me, one of soap’s many mysteries. He’d be better served with a Mary Bishop, a Laura Spencer, or a Lois Cerullo—someone who can match either his intellect or his emotional depth—or both—and force him outside himself, outside his choices.
Lois is that someone, it’s plain to see. It also hurt me almost as deeply as it did her when he plainly informed her that her flexible, proficient services were no longer required after a night of desperate comfort sex. Her fragile pale blue eyes broke, like that of a child’s. In hindsight, perhaps TPTB would’ve served this love story better had they allowed me a glimpse into Lorenzo’s remorse, right after Ned left, remembering that Lois was anything but just flexible and proficient, so much more.
She keeps fighting for him. He keeps pushing her away.
Not because of a flimsy, topsy-turvey plot device, deigning to showcase his lack of integrity when it comes to Carly’s alleged charms, so that she and Sonny, their love could reign supreme again, sending their fan base into ecstasy, saying he’ll back off, but always returning, hard-on in hand, tongue out, panting after an unappealing, unwelcoming, unfulfilling moron—who could out-dick him on any day of the week—until the writers tire of using him as S&C’s sex toy.
This time, it’s because Lorenzo could very well fall for Lois, deserves her even. Nothing’s more of a turn-on than a condemned sinner exhibiting his very last act of decency, in denying himself the one true love that could save him. Or a level-headed, lonely woman unable to deny her instincts screaming out to save this fallen angel, who once held such high, noble aspirations as a teacher.
It helps that the two lovers in question are played by two of the best actors in the business.
Lesli Kay managed to convince me she was there in the 1990s when Anna Lee (Lila) was still alive and wheeling around, when it came time to mourn her loss in a memorial service several months ago. The regret, in keeping Brook Lynn away from her grandmother all those years, felt real, and perhaps was to some extent. I read in an SPW interview that Kay lost her father, full of regrets, that they hadn’t visited the Grand Canyon, that they’d busied themselves with work, his before retirement, never knowing about the tumor growing malignant inside of him until it was too late. Perhaps she referenced some of that personal experience to inform her sincerely penitent scenes with Edward, throwing herself humbly before his mercy. This lady is equally gifted in comedy, rapid-firing the most words per show of any other character, laying bare the God’s honest truth, even if it may be embarrassing (Limp Dick Dillon was saved by her and Scott Clifton alone) to hear, or astounding to say (even when she’s insulting Lorenzo in what’s supposed to be a sobering scene of break-up, she makes me snort with stifled laughter at how she reads him the riot act).
Ted King is near-picture perfect, whatever he does. Plagued early on with the Sonny & Carly shackles, expected to win Carly and her Carly Fans First contingent, he did a respectable job, providing much-needed respite from the mumbling, barware-hurling machismo status quo of Sonny, the disingenuous mob boss. Like a Renaissance man to a Neanderthal. Carly chose the Sonny, go figure. The idiots in love with S&C had King’s Lorenzo pull a number of stupid, hypocritical, desperate, inconsequential maneuvers to attract the girl, win her hand and dump Sonny. But since that is always a losing cause (hear that, Steven?), it’s a relief to see he’s off on another story of his own, far apart from the mob vortex. Sage dying, while it may not have been all that great for portrayer Katie Stuart, was a godsend for King, because it let him act without acting, it opened up his all-too human side before the mob got a hold of him and turned him inside out. His face literally shattering before me as he heard Sage’s words to Brook Lynn’s music for the first time, then standing still, daring his soul not to flutter, while he forced Lois out of his bed, as cruelly as he could, so she couldn’t tempt him in his moment of weakness, so he wouldn’t look at her, into her clear pale blue eyes that held comfort, freedom, then beginning to break again as Lois’ cruel words cut into him, as he let her, because it’s all he felt he deserved... I skimmed over a few message board posts actually mocking the actor for his bad choices, accusing him of crying like a sissy, and shook my head in disbelief.
For the first time in perhaps over a decade, as I stand mostly alone in my avid interest of LoLo’s Lorenzo & Lois, and everything, everybody surrounding their tortured modern meets Victorian love, I truly am watching another show.
THEY LOVE YOU UNTIL YOU DON’T HAVE ANY MORE SPOILERS
Maybe it’s because I’m fighting off yet another cold – with a three-month summer break – or because I’m pre-menopausal, or because I feel like it, but I had to comment on the discussions by fans on SoapZone’s GH message board about the reported attendance (or not) of certain GH actors at the upcoming November Super Soap Weekend and the latest November Sweeps foretold by Eye on Soaps’ gossip columnist Sage.
The annual SSW, held in Orlando, FL’s Disney World/MGM Studio, offers fans a chance to stand in long lines under the broiling sun for the off chance of meeting their favorite ABC Daytime stars for an autograph and photo opportunity, or watch them interact with each other in talk show and game show formats. Every year, before the event, online fans prognosticate on who will show up, who won’t, and why. Then, during and after the event, they continue on who was bizarre, conceited, stupid, and who was more beautiful and more nice in person, as well as those all-important, life-or-death scoops.
This year, the main target is Kelly Monaco’s (Sam) MIA decision. No reason given, no reason needed... for me anyway. But some regular posters insist on insinuating that the actress is gonna be a no-show because she’s afraid of the negative fan reaction, further insinuating that hers is not a popular or wanted character. I can’t help wondering what the big deal is. Maybe she has pressing personal business that is none of our affair, maybe she doesn’t like Florida (who the heck would?!), maybe she’d rather catch up on her Zzzzs instead of stand under the fans’ microscopic set-up and play the network puppet.
Point is, who cares? Her job, love her or not, is to turn in the best performances that she can, pick up her paycheck and go home. Well, it should be that simple. Unfortunately, because she’s a public figure thrust in the public eye, of a public relations-conscious soap opera genre, no less, she has to keep up appearances to some extent. Not showing up at July’s GH Fan Club weekend and SSW is certainly cause for a few raised eyebrows, but as far as I’m concerned, good for her. I think the media pimping of soap stars to stave off downward ratings has gone too far anyway.
Then, Sage posts an update to his gossip page, a day early. He wondered if he should wait until Monday, but I told him that his fans would check back and report to the masses whether he updated on Monday or Sunday in the middle of the worst winter storm America has ever seen in the dead of Christmas holiday. He’s that well-known, and rightly so (but then, I’m looking at his opinionated prowess, not just his insider sources for scoops).
He needn’t have worried. Someone posted his update immediately and at the time, Sunday, 12:10 p.m., September 19, close to 600 people replied and 1,115 viewed the thread. Several minutes later, another person posted some speculation in another thread based on Sage’s November Sweep scoops.
Funny though. I didn’t notice anyone in there thanking or praising Sage for getting these new scoops out to the viewing public, for caring enough to even ask if he should post them early. I wouldn’t hold my breath for them to even acknowledge that they might have been wrong to belittle him personally, joke at his expense about his cats and his sexuality, and accuse him of doing nothing but lurk around their message board for the posters’ latest scoops and steal from there (he doesn’t, he doesn’t even read SZ, unless a particular post is called to his attention, and even that is rare).
I did notice, however, much gratuitous moaning, groaning, whining, complaining about a lot of bizarre, mysterious stuff that hasn’t even happened yet. (And posters hitting the spoiler alert button within an already spoiler-tagged thread. People, if it says spoiler in it, you don’t have to mark your speculations as spoiler too.)
Every time I bring this up, about three people agree with me (thanks, chloe and Marty) and the rest, if they reply at all, blame it on TPTB not serving up interesting enough characters and stories at the time to comment on. “If they’d write good stories, maybe we’d have something to talk about besides these stupid spoilers, months in advance,” is their usual refrain.
It would be nice, however, if they’d make an effort to stick to the current subject at hand, question why they hate Lorenzo and Lois together, liberally use past memorable events as comparisons for why a present story falls flat and feels more like a plot device, search for any remote personal connection to a particularly moving performance, however far removed from the gimmicks and implausible cliffhangers. Only a few regular posters regularly do this, and it’s such a crying shame.
It’s also why I gravitate towards the commentary of the columnists, and why, I suspect, Sage is dying to veer back more into that territory. He’s also hampered by the fact that nothing much is going on on GH, nothing worth commenting on. That, coupled with his super-busy off-line life, and I don’t blame the guy.
Some of his harshest critics – who feed off his hard work yet neglect to pay him any acknowledgement – they’re another story.