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~*~
going crazy on ABC Daytime’s soaps, and it’s not always the sanest route
to take when at a loss to revive character (or actor) boredom.
Every ABC Daytime soap opera has or will soon feature a major character going bonkers, usually as TPTB’s sign of good faith and usually to the audience’s detriment.
Three insanity-laden plans for the three ABC soaps last week had me questioning the rationale, validity and well, sanity of trivializing such a vast array of psychological ailments, with such superficial treatments.
Over on AMC, Greenlee is acting schizophrenic, acting being the proverbial word. This week, as she goes into straitjacket lock-up in a psych ward, Ryan will deduce that she suffers from poisoning, not suddenly losing her mind. In the interim, I and other annoyed fans will have to suffer with further embarrassing displays of imitation is not the sincerest form of flattery and – I gather – quite possibly the writers’ last-ditch, last stand on the unworkable, untenable, unlikable Greenlee Smythe, even if she does steal the only available familiar stud around from Kendall.
Rebecca Budig may be blessed with a slim, muscular figure and long, wavy brown hair with blonde highlights, but she cannot do crazy in any romantic, tragic sense (think GH’s Mary, played by Catherine Wadkins). She just does badly at staring off in the distance, flipping out at anybody who attacks Ryan and sustaining any kind of sympathy from me outside the angry, wisecracking, self-centered snipe she usually is. IOW, she’s herself but with a lame excuse... and I STILL don’t like her any better as a “loon.”
As a slight OT, British actor Damian Lewis is set to tackle the role of a schizophrenic father in desperate search of his kidnapped daughter in the tentatively titled movie, “Keane.” (Or, was that “Paul?”) You can be sure he’ll take the material and the research very seriously. Budig? I doubt she had to research anything beyond the most rudimentary assumptions of sitcom whack-jobs.
In the past, the female characters have gotten off on murder charges by pleading guilty by reason of temporary insanity, never to be thoroughly addressed in ongoing group therapy sessions (save the lone excuse to pontificate about how noble and great the recovering victim is in attending) or personal battles. Erica and Bianca both make perfect examples. It always feels like the writers are tacking on insanity as some wacky soap opera Hail Mary, then all’s forgiven. No jail time served.
OLTL’s writers have taken a tip from AMC’s and will take many liberties with the technical and soulful meaning of Dissociative Disorder, a medical condition plaguing Viki Buchanan off and on throughout the years. Viki’s last bout with her alters involved the resurgence of loudmouth psycho Niki, and revealed for all the world to see just how far portrayer Erika Slezak has fallen in the acting chops. To say her rendition of a murderous, conniving cartoon (a major mischaracterization from the party girl with a heart of gold from the ‘80s) was pathetic overacting would be kind.
Regardless of the dismal failure of Niki to revive Blondie and Ben’s sagging, cloying romance, TPTB in all their stupidity are gonna pass on the DID to one of Viki’s grown daughters. ABC Daytime president Brian Scott Frons fairly boasted to fans in an online chat several weeks ago that something of this sort would happen and later, in a SOAP OPERA WEEKLY interview with Carolyn Hinsey, brought up the possibility that Natalie would turn out NOT to be a Buchanan after all, leaving only Jessica.
Somehow Frons and company believe soap newcomer Bree Williamson (all looks, little on-screen substance) can pull off a believable portrayal of a young woman wracked with split personalities or at the very least, breaks with reality, ala AMC’s Erica and Bianca... just in time to get off scott-free from a murder rap against Tico. As the recast Jessica, Williamson does nothing for me but force my eyes to roam directly on her full, voluptuous lips, almost always half parted, gleaming white teeth contributing to the sexy, confused pout, regardless of the scripted emotion she never succeeds in showing.
Williams puts so much work into staying physically beautiful, a modern-day Grace Kelly (with full, voluptuous lips), IMHO she forgets the rest of the package of an average soap actress. That would be the ability to lose herself in the role and the situation, head to toe, body and soul.
And they’re gonna give her a mentally unbalanced storyline that challenges even the best of the Emmy-award-winning vets?!
Nu Jess fans may see this as some sort of victory and approval of their girl, but I see it as a cop-out by TPTB, who will do almost anything to keep a pretty, young face in the limelight at severe cost to the ensemble, professional-led production this soap used to be.
Besides, multiple personality disorder – complete with alters as diverse as Tommy, Victoria and Niki – is extremely rare, usually caused by extreme conditioning in childhood until the individual feels no other recourse but to break, or split. Two historic cases made into haunting movies involved the authentic splits of two women, Sybil and the Three Faces of Eve (she had more than three it turns out). Both suffered enormously, secretly and consistently from the unspeakably perverted abuses of their mother figures, one of whom was most definitely, sadistically schizophrenic.
Unless the squeamish Mickey Mouse network is willing to go there, like they used to with the first time Viki’s sexual abuse came up (in the ‘90s), and unless Bree Williamson develops some acting chops pronto to HANDLE this heavy material and do insanity any justice... I predict a disaster area, and plenty of misery for fans.
The only other time OLTL writers did mental defect any justice was when they tried to explain why Dorian never killed Victor Lord and why Viki (her alter) did in the late ‘90s. They managed to explore Dorian’s past, a cruel, cold mother, the emotional neglect, the claustrophobic punishments, the only way Dorian could rise above the insanity was to protect her already broken sisters.
Ever since then, insanity has become another accelerated plot device, the same as it’s become for AMC, a means to an overturned conviction, so fans won’t have to lose another core, beloved character, but THINK they’re winning with a riveting, all-inclusive storyline that refuses to chicken out with the bit player as the murderer. Blair, Kelly, Lindsay... all succumbed, recovered, with nary a trip to the therapist.
Don’t forget Margaret, the fringe day player Frons supposedly claimed a study group of fans demanded return to haunt Todd and Blair once more. St. Anne’s nuns just released her, just in time to break up Todd and Blair’s wedding, the wedding nobody cares about because the writers never cared to build up the reunited relationship in the first place.
There’s plenty of build-up at GH. To hear Maurice Benard say it, over and over and over, every chance he gets, his character Sonny Corinthos is in dire need of a manic-depressive makeover. For as long as the guy’s been playing the conflicted mobster, since the mid-‘90s, he’s been playing him that way, whether his bosses realized it, or approved of it (they didn’t).
According to Benard, the writers cannot believe the audience wants to see such a daily downer as one of their most popular favorites sitting around in the dark, throwing more barware, alternately screaming and crying and debating whether to kill himself or not. But Benard thinks a long-term, long-range story still can be done and be entertaining, even light at times. Sonny, he said, could go to therapy, be treated by Cameron (when Lane Davies was still employed by ABC Daytime), take lithium, go back to normal, do exciting, normal entertaining things, then go off the meds whenever the story grows tiring.
Benard’s heart is in the right place. I truly believe he wants to help other viewers with manic depression by his example. A story on GH would serve to teach, enlighten and encourage millions, many without a clue they have the chemical imbalance in their brains.
The earnest, intense actor went on the “Oprah Winfrey Show” a few weeks ago with his wife Paula, as well as movie actress Linda Hamilton and musician/singer Shawn Colvin, to talk about his manic depression. He recollected the dark times he threatened his mother and father, and later, his wife and her nieces, all the while over-self-medicating with alcohol and dancing the dance of death. He’s been locked up in a real psych ward more than once. He’s gone off his meds and suffered the consequences, by confusing his GH role with his real life and experiencing the harrowing highs and lows no real life could ever match. He still wonders what his real life would be like if he could kick the lithium (his wife would never let him).
In almost every recent interview, Benard would pine away for a manic-depressive story of his own, almost arguing (in the press) with his writer bosses in favor of one, almost as if to add, “or else I walk” at the end.
I half-expected him to walk about a month ago when in contract re-negotiations over TPTB’s rumored unwillingness to give him that manic-depressive story. He’s pretty much come out and said it could be a deal breaker. And yet, he re-signed, with barely two weeks off next month for the birth of his son before he goes back to work to tangle with Ric and Alexis over custody of Kristina.... no manic depressive story in sight, probably never (but then, they told Tamara Braun/Carly she’d never see her on-screen father, and she did).
His wasn’t the only character to do mental illness exceedingly well. Catherine Wadkins (ex-Mary), as I mentioned earlier, could’ve spent three years going insane and back again over the unrequited love of Nikolas, with her husband Connor present and accounted for, instead of the cuckoo spoils going to such an inadequate actress as Natalia Livingston (Emily).
Oh yeah, Emily’s nuts of a laughably-scary, dimestore villainess sort. But there’s no excuse and no explanation for any of that, because the writers actually think this is a beloved heroine, to be blindly worshipped and adored, as has every eligible male sap within a 10-mile radius.
If done respectfully, accurately and comprehensively (at least a one-year commitment here), never to be laid aside or forgotten later, introducing insanity to soaps could work out in more ways than entertainment and an Emmy on an actor’s mantle.
If done excessively, just to redeem a flagging character, poor actor or repetitious story – as TPTB often do with rape – then they are in danger of misinforming and manipulating the public into erroneous, frivolous, apathetic, harmful stereotypes.
Just for ratings or star power?
WHERE’S THE DRESSING?
Only AMC featured a Thanksgiving theme in Wednesday, November 24th’s episode, traditionally a time to take a break from the ongoing storylines and allow the characters to mix it up, with hilarious, often touching results. Rivals declare peace with each other. Friends touch base. Families remember their generational bonds. I get to watch soap characters eat something more than a lettuce leaf and drink something more than water. If I’m really lucky, I’ll get to watch them feast, then pitch the leftovers at a stray wise-acre or two, as Opal threatened to do to Adam after Marian barged in screaming bloody murder at him for not inviting his brother Stuart to Thanksgiving dinner.
Leave it to AMC to somehow keep to tradition while the other two ABC soaps inexplicably pretended they existed in an alternate universe.
Last year, the Kanes and the Montgomerys gathered at the Valley Inn for Erica and Jackson’s wedding when Greenlee interrupted the proceedings to declare that she was Jack’s long-lost daughter and the cops ran in to put Kendall in handcuffs for Michael Cambias’ murder. Also, Bianca kept her pregnancy (a product of Michael’s rape of her) a secret, while Maggie tried to keep a lid on her growing romantic feelings for Binks and jealousy of Lena for winning her best friend’s hand. Mary attended too, which didn’t sit well with Erica or Reggie at all. Mass mayhem, with exquisite fashion statements.
This year, nothing’s changed – a blessed status quo. The Kanes and the Montgomerys have again gathered at the Valley Inn, this time for an elaborate, catered Thanksgiving dinner, while over on the other side of town, JR hosts his own, with Brooke, David, Krystal, Adam, Opal, Palmer, Mary, and late-comer Tad as guests.
While Erica and Myrtle broke up the squabbles at the Valley Inn side – Ryan and Greenlee sniping at Kendall and Ethan, Jonathan bellowing at them all, Maggie and Jonathan conspiratorially muttering about staying home, Bianca trying to make peace, also trying to keep Kendall’s mouth shut to JR about plans later to lure him down to Florida at Babe’s request, Derek flipping out at Lily’s pictures of his daughter Danielle making out with Reggie as Livia tried to calm the detective down... JR barked his orders to cease and desist over on his side, at chez Chandler, or else none of them would see his daughter Bess, neglecting to mention to most of the invitees that the purpose of his dinner in the first place was to see how much David and Krystal knew about the baby switch.
I couldn’t help feeling that the cast members themselves enjoyed gathering together, even if it was to put on a show for us. They could catch up during rehearsals and between takes. After the episode’s in the can, knowing they’ve been paid for their scenes (especially the ones hardly seen), they probably all, with the crew and the bosses, gather on down the hall to a conference room or down the street to a festooned hotel ballroom to chow down on turkey and pie, dance to holiday music and wish each other Happy Thanksgiving... before taking off to their real families and friends.
Jeff Branson (Jonathan) took his solo situation and creatively made a difference in his and his friends’ lives by putting on an elaborate, home-cooked party. A lot of them are alone in the big city far from hearth and home, so this was a good way to compensate. Branson, an accomplished cook, lead a team in whipping up the staples, with a few twists for the year, pies with sugar substitutes, mimosas. With football games on TV all day, the party lasted into the night, a wonderful success to his annual event.
Watching characters old and new, veteran and novice, choreographed and outfitted to delicious, gossipy perfection just reinforced my faith in soaps to be what they’ve always been when the chips were down and the ratings low... at least on AMC.
Why on AMC when OLTL and GH consistently leave holiday cheer out of their usual blood and gore is a question best left to whomever up there is truly in charge of this Disney-owned network.
OLTL at least mentioned Thanksgiving, as a celebration the characters would participate in the next day, when us viewers would turn off the soaps and change the channel to sports in between cooking and baking, roasting and frosting. The only turkey sighting in Llanview (besides Tico snarling up at Antonio to shoot the governor already) happened at Bo’s police commissioner office, as Nora and Matthew strolled in wearing these goofy black Pilgrim hats and carrying take-out. More reason to have Nora give Bo ridiculous goofy REGRETFUL looks and hint around about their glory days with exploding turkeys.
At the hotel bar, there’s John and Evangeline – surprise, surprise – downing some booze on the occasion of their continuing discussion about their high school relationship, she nagging him to give up Natalie without coming right out and saying it, and him fed up with her insecure whining about Natalie, “What do you want from me?” (Answer: Complete, total and utter devotion to only Evangeline and no other human being with a hole.)
It would’ve been nicer had TPTB bothered to dust off everybody ELSE in the cast (Renee? Asa? Clint? Joey? Jennifer? Riley? the Love Crew? Roxy? Rex?) and have them join in on one measly Thanksgiving dinner at Viki’s. Or maybe two, one at Viki’s, one at Dorian’s... something to commemorate what the rest of America is doing, any acknowledgement that we’re all connected, we matter.
If they’re going to ignore Thanksgiving on the auspices of it intruding on the fantasy of a fictional universe for purely entertainment purposes, then ignore the weather and laws of gravity as well. Just have everybody walk around half naked, painted blue and green, floating, flying upside down, crawling on the ground, eating feces, anarchy at its supreme.
The GH characters during what should’ve been Thanksgiving with the Quartermaines might as well have been flying around in teacups with five breasts and two heads.
There, nothing existed except finding that incriminating file on Sonny and saving Edward from Heather about to poison then smother him with a pillow.
It’s kinda sad that the only GH mention of this truly soap opera-friendly holiday – all about families and friends gathering around a dinner table to remember each other and what they’re thankful for from the previous year – was from a magazine article, not even a featured interview, but a throwaway trivia Q&A of several celebrities, some has-beens, about the most memorable soap Thanksgivings.
In case any of you care, Stuart Damon (Alan) said his was when the Quartermaines were robbed at gunpoint in their own mansion right before eating, then had to call for a pizza delivery AGAIN.
I talk a lot about real life and fiction. In my real life, I admit to being quite annoyed by the constant yammering about traditional Thanksgiving celebrations, usually in the guise of ungrateful people complaining about having to board a plane to grandmother’s house, or the hundred guests about to arrive and the turkey’s not even in the oven yet. They have no idea how lucky they are and how thankful they should be to even be able to COMPLAIN about any family, much less the affordability of a turkey large enough to feed a hundred guests. There are a lot more unfortunate people out there, a silent, stoic group, who have no family, no home, no food and no money, living on the street, in shelters, on friends’ basement floors, until luck and hard work pay off, and then they can join the rest of us ungrateful buttheads too into our own self-center to realize an entire universe out there without.
What an amazing story arc THAT would be on OLTL or GH, John sharing pumpkin pie with Michael, Marcie, Evangeline, Nora, Bo and a couple thousand homeless residents at Angel Square’s shelter, headed up by Reverend Andrew Carpenter, and discovering a long-lost hobo relative who just might be able to help with the murder investigation of Paul... Edward asked by Tracy, Alan and Monica to join them at the hospital for a special Thanksgiving dinner at the children’s ward, and a way to get him out of the big, lonely mansion, mourning his dead wife Lila, who always went for giving.
I WANT to see Thanksgiving depicted on my favorite TV shows, especially soaps, because of the very fact that I can’t stand the common, conformist, lemming way the holiday is blindly followed by every other well-off American under the sun. It’d be too easy to request an end to Thanksgiving, on- and off-screen out of sheer contrariness (and deference to the unfortunates who can’t help but let the festivities pass). And, it’d be a sadistic high on my personal part to see the crestfallen faces of the expectant viewers who’ve already assumed and presumed so much in their lives as a matter of course when nobody else outside their inner circles acknowledges their traditions (well, nobody outside the U.S. and many immigrant don’t).
Yet, here I yearn anyway, perhaps to over-compensate for my own decided lack of a Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving year in and year out, perhaps because I know the professionals in daytime are capable of doing Thanksgiving right, with the thanks (plus the outrageous fashions and people watching) included...
Perhaps, the ideal of what Thanksgiving SHOULD look like is just around the corner, a vision through the eyes of soap writers willing and able to tell the tale. Then and only then, can I feel as if I’ve partaken vicariously in just the right amount of turkey, stuffing and company.
Vicarious would be better than nothing.
THE SICK FASCINATION THAT IS JACKSON
I used to wonder why Walt Willey (Jackson) hardly received enough airtime for my liking before. Now, whenever he IS on, which – oddly enough – isn’t much, I wish he’d disappear into the woodwork.
I’ve nothing to go on other than that weird white man’s Rico Suave thing he does with his voice and the almost smarmy way he slobbers over Erica. It’s as if he purposely tries to make his light-blue eyes all crinkly and shiny like stars, his baritone voice booming and bedroomy, his man-hands all over... ugh.
When Jack tends to his ever-growing brood, however, his other side surfaces and all’s right in the world. He’s authoritative, yet gentle, he knows when to kid around and when to get tough, he’s run the gamut of emotions with Reggie and Lily alone for two lifetimes in only a handful of paltry scenes. He’s yet to thoroughly explore the dynamics of his father/daughter relationship with Greenlee, and his influence may humanize the Ryan-obsessed twit yet—a feat neither Mary nor Roger could afford.
I’m often amazed at the singular transformation, quite frankly. Maybe a little of that has to do with my not being much of a Jack & Erica fan. I never understood why the writers had to taint a good thing going between headstrong Erica and ruthless tycoon Travis back in the late ‘80s with the tired ole younger brother spoiler.
I saw in Travis the first time, maybe next to Nick, a man who had so completely civilized, emotionalized and humanized a thoughtless woman like Erica. He fulfilled her every romantic fantasy of a take-charge leader with only a soft spot for her. And she, in return, made him less of a ruthless cad in and out of the bedroom, because she challenged and met his own often impossible ambitions.
These two could’ve made a wonderfully complex couple for years if it weren’t for Travis’s little ne’er-do-well blond hunky brother Jackson’s sudden interest in spitfire Erica, forbidden territory.
It all made for quite the Harlequin Romance paperback book cover, except... I require murky beneath the sheen, depth over shallow, a little exposition as to WHY Jackson would tempt Erica away from the superior likes of Travis (besides that nasty little, inappropriate voice inside my head traveling south), and shared custody of their daughter Bianca. Much of the rationale, I gathered, lay in Erica’s own inability to maintain any sort of commitment, because deep down, she hated herself, felt enormous shame from her childhood rape and the sordid abandonment issues with her late father that I’m sure did not end with merely allowing an actor buddy full access.
Still, none of that explains her attraction to Jack, other than he’s tall, blond and good-looking, as long as he doesn’t move a muscle, open his mouth and/or leave his children out of the mess.
Because whenever he’s alone with Erica, I’m constantly reminded of a bad Fabio spoof. “Yeeesssss, indeed, my lovely darling sweetheart... You really do take the cake and milk the cat’s pajamas, you sensual ball of energy, you, purrr meow, groan...” Groan, I think I hear Tom Jones, hide my panties.
When a conflict arises, usually in the form of Erica trying to pull a fast one over on Jack and Jack almost gleefully, smugly calling her on it... this forced couple is even more unpalatable.
A horny Jack is nowhere near as repulsive as an arrogant Jack, telling stupid, obtuse, childish spoiled brat Erica where to get off and why she’s completely useless as a grown-up. He’s supposed to be the love of her life, because he never lets her get away with her bull-crap, right? Well, to me, he’s not, because he’s always ready to undercut her as a free-thinking, independent human being in her own right, constantly invalidating her impulses and questioning her motives, as if she’s never to be trusted around the cutlery and the glassware.
That’s not a love match. It’s another daughter to feed, spank and lecture.
With Erica, I just don’t see sparks, just minor irritation, as if she must put up with him because the huge fan base clamored for their long-awaited reunion and would accept no other suitors (David, as with Tad and Dixie’s fan base, was summarily kicked out), and he means well, even if he’s about as romantically sexy as my own father trying to pull off tight-fitting jeans that just bulge in the wrong places (above the crotch).
My conspiracy theory places Jack inexorably down the wedded path toward Erica forever because of their strong fan base, who’d have it no other way. He’d be much better off in a fully fledged family story, with Opal, Brooke, Mary, Maria, all four, even Kendall... in his element chastising Reggie for letting Lily run off or protecting Lily too fiercely (whatever happened to the trio of popular girls?), proving to Reggie that he’s truly a dream father figure, in court defending on behalf of the weak and misunderstood and fending off the goofy and sincere advances of women he considers his equal, at the very least, women he can’t always predict with smug, smarmy appeal.
For a long while, even portrayer Walt Willey wondered where his character’s potential had gone off to, along with such promising airtime. He worried about the stability and longevity of his job, clearly relieved that someone up there in AMC’s big offices saw more than a handsome bit player walking around in the background for far too long. And he’s very grateful to his fan base, the very ones clamoring for a Jack and Erica wedding already, for keeping his name in the public eye and in the minds of his bosses.
During his all-too frequent off time from AMC, Willey’s managed to secure a name for himself apart from daytime, as a standup comedian, a B&B owner in New Mexico and a host of other assorted public events, for charities and on behalf of AMC. Somehow, despite a gaping hole where his own story should be and should’ve been from way back, Willey’s carved out an enviable, rare niche, as a soap staple, whether he shows up or not.
Now, if he’d only show up without the gratuitous smirk he probably thinks is alluring to Erica...
IS INSANITY ANY EXCUSE FOR STUPID, JESS?
Lord knows I cannot stand Jessica Buchanan. She’s right up there with GH’s Emily and AMC’s Greenlee as the most obnoxious opposites of what TPTB intended with all their heroic, noble, damsels liable to kick your butt after batting their artificially enhanced eyelashes.
Yet, this current story pitting her against the evil mob lord Tico should provoke something more akin to sympathy for her, than sympathy for the devil.
Truth be told, I haven’t been on Nu Jess’s side since Bree Williamson took over for Erin Torpey. That doesn’t mean, however, that I was any Torpey fan, far from it; I have always despised the spoiled, self-centered, weak approach to Jessica Buchanan, whomever the actress... As soon as she tossed her DID-afflicted mother over for Cristian’s affections (anyone remember how she went on and on about how her mother’s split personalities threatened to ruin her love life?).
Both actresses did more to advance fashions than their own storylines, standing around looking pretty, lips pursed just so, mouths slightly parted, wide doe eyes in a constant daze, the epitome of style over substance ... if you like that Valley Girl meets Southern dumb belle type.
Last week’s scenes leading up to Antonio and Tico recreating “The Manchurian Candidate’s” hair-raising climax (rent the original b/w version with Frank Sinatra) should’ve had me on pins and needles for all involved.
If I had to rely on Bree Williamson’s (Jessica) static poses alone, you’d think the scenes were about a typical senior prom where she showed up wearing the same gown as her cheerleading rival. The girl had her doe eyes wide open and model-perfect lips half-parted the entire time Tico blathered on to her about the importance of family, Cristian and other nonsense I never paid attention to (because I was otherwise preoccupied with how long she’d hold that mouth-half-open expression).
Melissa Archer (Natalie) and Kamar de los Reyes (Antonio) practically held those climactic scenes together, with their more convincing do-or-die reactions, and I’ve not been much of a fan of Archer’s spoiled-brat inflections or de los Reyes’ constipated version of angry and dangerous. When Natalie found the bloody ropes, she instantly thought the worst, that her husband Cristian had again been killed, this time for good. The wailing that erupted from her could’ve broken the spine of a cat, but was more heartfelt than Jessica’s barely trying to control growing panic (I’m guessing that was the actress’s goal). The absolute horror on Antonio’s face as it dawned on him, coinciding with Tico’s assassination order, that he was supposed to aim the rifle at a governor or else lose Cristian forever almost redeemed the actor’s worst angry, dangerous STAGNANT moments in the recent past.
With all the above said and done, now I’m hearing a truly horrific spoiler about Jessica, revealing the extent of TPTB’s confidence in recast Bree Williamson (apparently, everybody in the soap industry but me is enamored of the Canadian beauty). Brace yourselves.
One of Viki’s daughters – it can’t be Natalie, since she’s got her hands full with John and Cristian and she’s being played by the slightly better actress, no of course not – will develop the same multiple-personality disorder, as an alter comes out to play right around the same time Tico flatlines and another murder investigation kicks off. The rumor part comes into play when Jess DIDs, causing Tico’s murder. Which leads me to wit:
Let’s face it. The current Jessica Buchanan is a dimwit better off on the fashion runway, far far away in New York, off our TV screens, than constantly front and center in almost every other character’s line of vision, diluting the full scripted effect with whatever she’s doing and thinking at the moment (I wouldn’t rule out a post-Thanksgiving sale by any means).
She’s been had by not one but three major serial killing psychopaths, going out of her way to not only defend them to loved ones and friends of loved ones whom she should’ve believed in more... but actively defending them by interfering with police investigations, covert and on the level. I’ll never forget her defiance in going up against John, treating him, Antonio’s best friend, like HE’S the serial killer and not Steven Haver, a college professor she knew for about three weeks tops. And when the smoke cleared, not once did I sense genuine remorse for her defiance, just a plea for sympathy.
Then, she tops that stupidity with a move that can only be described as an act of insanity (maybe this is where her alter steps in, someone with lower IQ digits if that’s possible): Gee, I’m bummed about Antonio hanging around Sonia, I think I’ll move on by marrying his brother Tico, whom I neither love or know very well, despite my family and friends warning me he’s the anti-Christ. Y’know, instead of crocheting an afghan, playing one-on-one with Kevin, writing some commentaries for the newspaper, going to Macy’s, getting her head on straight and doing as she’s told by Antonio, waiting for him to straighten out this Santi mess, THEN return to her.
Jessica only furthers the stupid insanity by giving nothing away but a stubborn refusal to listen to people who know her better than the psychopathic strangers she seems to glom onto for dear life. A better actress could sell me on the motivations, if any, behind one bone-headed move after another.
I’m more likely to believe in the tooth fairy.
IT’S TOO EASY TO HATE ALEXIS
You can always tell when Alexis is having a bad day in Port Charles. Just head on over to the various message boards online, where predictably, the hordes congregate to throw stones until the memory of a once-compassionate, but neurotic and complicated lady lawyer is nothing but a bloody heap of humiliation and recrimination.
Usually, this is my cue to run the other way, review the Alexis-related tapes and come up with a conclusion for myself – almost always the opposite of the summary verdict.
It’s not easy to like Alexis. In fact, many times, she herself makes it impossible. I doubt the character even likes herself. Full credit to such a courageous (and this has nothing to do with wearing her middle age on her un-made-up face) acting approach by Nancy Lee Grahn, who doesn’t seem to mind playing the heavy, as long as she can – for those intelligent, objective souls still watching between the scripted lines – play it with hard-to-get layers.
Grahn never makes liking Alexis the ultimate goal. She forces you to be a rational adult and slip into the chaos and the contradictory wars waging in Alexis’s heart and soul, and just experience her conflicts, without judgment. For most of us, that’s hard to do for such an easy target, one who seemingly thinks nothing of setting up the father of her child right after said father buried his own other child, gave up stem cells from that other dead child to save Kristina’s life... or of pushing everybody who deserves to be in her daughter’s life away based often on nothing but medical caution, exaggerated, Kristina’s immune system is weak (a line we’ve heard before, when the baby was born prematurely and everybody including Felicia wandered in to intensive care to lay their germy hands on the hallowed infant).
Alexis didn’t win any favors with me for gently shoving Sam away from a recuperating Kristina, and using the weakened immunity as an excuse. Sam quickly got over her anger with Alexis, believed in the end that her baby died through no fault of anybody’s and wound up saving another child in the bargain, and bravely confronted her worst fears as a bereaving mother by checking in on the beneficiary of her stillborn daughter’s sacrifice. The moment could’ve been a bridge toward greater understanding of two often despicable female characters who are known for using and manipulating people’s weaknesses for their personal gain.
Instead, it was another excuse to paint Alexis as a self-centered, controlling, neurotic, ungrateful, blah blah blah, check the message boards...
Later on, Alexis redeemed herself somewhat by saving Sam from frostbite, and got a reaming by Jason for her trouble. Sam’s defense seemed merely a forgotten footnote.
But really, can anybody blame Jason or the hordes of angry Alexis haters?
I’ve joined the hordes in my soap time, back when Alexis ran out on Ned at the altar, then portrayer Grahn used a series of plot points leading up to the defection as a means of vilifying Republicans everywhere.
Actually back a little farther when she cruelly dissected Sarah Brown’s Carly while huddled in the foyer of the Quartermaines... referring to the vulnerable young woman as nothing but a piece of trash. (Today, Alexis would never get away with such an insult, since Tamara Braun took Carly over as the more entitled, confident bully with a huge johnson bigger than Jason’s.)
Alexis’s worst traits come alive in the heat of a disaster. I could do without her hyperventilating negativity, her cold demeanor to anybody else’s causes but her own, her refusal to see Sonny’s and Carly’s sides as anything but the meanderings of the weak and the condemned, and her insistence on treating Kristina like a one-of-a-kind, fragile and expensive object d’art.
It’s as if Alexis never grew up past the toddler stage and cannot share even if her life depended on it.
The wiser choice in Kristina’s custody case would BE to share, with Sonny and his relatives, allow access to those who provided the little girl with a means for staying alive. At the very least, back up her empty thank-yous with actions.
But who says Alexis is wise, all-knowing and always right? Her hordes of detractors?
Isn’t that just a little too ... easy?
The brilliance of Nancy Lee Grahn’s portrayal – and this is not a stupid woman – is in the difficulty of understanding such an apparent villain of a character. Alexis is hardly a villain, either.
Her violent past betrays her all the time. If only viewers could get past the easy, simplistic answers. Alexis is mean because she won’t let Sonny see Kristina, she said mean things to Carly when Carly was nice, she kept Sam from finding closure, she won’t crack a smile to save her life, she is incapable of giving a little... none of this serves as any sort of informed revelation.
Alexis is Alexis, because she was raised that way. She watched her own mother’s throat get slashed. She had to, at 12, grab her baby sister and hide in the stables. She mourned alone, in secret, when her baby sister disappeared, thinking the worst. She relied on Stefan for her livelihood and in the end was betrayed by him.
In many ways, she grew up too fast, missing a few key chapters in child development. Because of the dire circumstances of her traumatic upbringing, she never learned to share, trust or even let down her guard, for to do so would be certain death.
A lot of the Alexis haters base their judgments on a character they presume knows what she’s doing, a character who acts like she believes she’s always right whatever selfish thing she does. Like Carly.
Alexis is convincing, even to herself. Too convincing.
Ninety percent of the time, Alexis reacts out of training, in the most self-destructive of impulses, her more generous instincts overpowered by what she’s grown to know: destroy or be destroyed, and never trust a living soul with your loved one.
So when Alexis begs Carly not to tell Sonny Kristina is his daughter, holds off until the very last second TO TELL, acts all nicey-nice until Kristina’s safely got the stem cells infused, then duplicitously plots to destroy Sonny so he and his can never approach Kristina again... among other selfish acts ... she’s not doing any of it to intentionally commit evil, she’s doing it to protect her flesh and blood at all costs or else a Helena will come around the bend and take everything away.
The all or nothing, the acts, the maneuvering, the fast talking, the icy shut-downs... have been designed and honed by Alexis herself to survive.
For all her faults, at least she knows enough to steer clear of a known mobster and not subject her child to his dangerous influence, however unintentional.
I can’t say as much for Carly, who’s actually supposed to be the compassionate heroine in this manipulative mess.
And who, when Alexis posed a very straightforward, righteous indictment to her for siding with Sonny when not so long ago, she was in Alexis’s same position... had nothing to say but, “It’s different.”
It’s only different if you’re Alexis.