This is a simple column by a complex
Dumb-asses need not apply.
If you flatter yourself to be a bright spot in the universe
and aren't offended by "psychotic breaks," welcome.
If you're a little frightened, well, all the better.
We kinda like you like that... with hot sauce.
kinda sorta maybe better”
A reader of my other column – I’m everywhere, like the clap – suggested in
passing, and in begging me not to abandon my post as an OLTL arbiter
(what, you were expecting me to deny my ghost writer pseudonym?), that I
should try AMC for a spell to really experience what sucks out loud.
Been there, sorta agree with that.
Sorta doesn’t instantly ingratiate me toward returned head writer Megan
McTavish by any means. Ever since my Soap Siren Sister, SIPort – the
regular Passions poster that actors Tracey Ross (Eve) and Ben Masters
(Julian) mentioned to Soap Opera Digest in relation to an outstanding
message board description of their characters’ kiss at the Lobster Shack –
schooled me about McTavish’s destructive tendencies across the soap dial
and back, I’ve been less than a fan.
Rumors abounded of this woman’s tedious, Jerry Springer tactics, most
notably upon Erica Kane during her kidnapper period. Portrayer Susan Lucci,
allegedly wasn’t too thrilled, demanding her out. And we all know what The
Destroyer did to OLTL, then GH, as she followed her dragon lady boss,
executive producer Jill Farren Phelps, around, merely a figurehead and a
substandard writer wannabe.
Of course, in hindsight, one wonders if Emmy winner McTavish could’ve done
all that worse compared to GH’s current scribes, Bob Guza and Charles
Pratt. Right before she left, A.J. had miraculously come into his own as a
fully formed human and veritable leading man in his own right and in
Courtney’s eyes, Carly had a career, her own house and a struggling but
sure life apart from Sonny, Alexis and Sonny were almost palatable in
their soulful friendship... women certainly weren’t as mistreated, as
used-up sex dolls and Madonna complexes.
I’ll let you in on a little secret only Sage knows at this point: I kinda
sorta like AMC, even before the official announcement heralding back
McTavish as a head writer, promising vets and fave returns. Unless the
movers and shakers behind the scenes seamlessly incorporated her onto the
written canvas months prior—back to the creation of Fusion—she’s coming on
board with an already successful slate.
Okay, successful to me, the lone voice in the wilderness (I even love
Carlos, for God’s sakes). But still, Megan McTavish, IMHO, doesn’t have
much to fix or improve upon. She already has a cast list that would put
much of primetime to envy status, David Canary (Adam/Stuart), Michael E.
Knight (Tad, with his own soundtrack), Susan Lucci (Erica), Walt Willey
(Jackson), Julia Barr (Brooke), Alicia Minshew (Kendall), Jennifer Bassey
(Marian), Vincent Irizarry (David), Michael B. Jordan (Reggie)... And unlike
ABC Daytime’s other soaps, AMC has maintained close familial and
friendship ties within the community, where characters care about one
another beyond a newspaper footnote or because it’s currently convenient
to a summer promotion tie-in with Shop the Soaps. Also, AMC’s many
veterans remain, throughout decades, fulfilling long-time viewers’
requirement of investment, attachment and loyalty. While other soaps dumb
down their more and more youthful roster by the week, if not the day,
leaving anyone over the age of 20 in the dust or to wipe the smooth,
curvaceous asses of the snot-nosed, AMC kept the main reason to watch for
20-30 years on-screen, even though it seemed barely during the influx of
newbies early last year.
No other indication proved as much as Fan February. OLTL tried, by
bringing the Buchanan men back in a western tale, amongst other movie
excerpts, but merely came off as trailers without heart and soul. GH
didn’t even bother, doing instead what it always does, showcasing Sonny &
Co. in Guza & Co.’s wet dream of an unrepentant caricature with a graying,
braying has-been. PC didn’t even get to do one, having been saddled with
the cost-cutting accelerated production schedule. But AMC, as always, came
through with the what-if fantasy wedding of every fan’s dreams: Erica and
Tad, with hilarious spoofed results.
That’s what we wanted, familiar characters, supported by a mix of
newcomers and vets, engaged in the familiar, with a twist, allowed to let
loose, switch places (Bianca as Kendall? Hilarious!) yet remain faithful
to the show’s history, development and respect for characters who’ve
earned our trust, admiration and interest.
There, I could find young women attempting to build a company from
scratch, bitching together about their dismal love lives and slowly
fostering realistic, easy camaraderie. Their catty, flirty, witty, painful
barbs, snarks, jabs and confessions rang true from every circle in my own
past and present. I believed that they made friends, enemies and friends
again. Same with every other group that came, went and re-integrated
throughout the small town.
Together, they faced the true art of entertainment, as opposed to the sell
of advertainment, as coined by my favorite syndicated columnist, Miami
Herald’s Leonard Pitts Jr. In a recent masterpiece, dated August 3, Mr.
Pitts described feeling lousy as he noticed ushers steering cows of
movie-goers through promotional gimmicks from the overpriced concession
stands to the overpriced two-hour animated billboard known as the current
feature. He missed art, “a story, a storyteller, a plot, maybe some
recognizably human characters with something substantial at stake.”
Instead of today’s pop culture where, “everything has but one purpose, and
that is to sell you and me some other thing. From product placements in
movies and on television to an actor being paid to drop a drug maker’s
name into a TV interview, from ‘news’ programs that promote a network’s
entertainment shows to toy store tie-ins that funnel children from the
movie theater straight to the nearest Toys R Us, media’s prime directive
is to make us want, make us need, make us feel incomplete unless we
Sound familiar? ABC Daytime to a T, and AMC isn’t immune to the occasional
product placement tricks (Jack gave Erica a diamond bracelet, how much on
eBay?) and the reality-TV bandwagon (have we learned NOTHING from “Are You
But alas, otherwise, so far, so good, AMC regularly tells thorough stories
about relatable human being “with something substantial at stake.” I’d
call rape, neglect, death, adultery, a fallen marriage, being lied to
about your father all your life quite substantial.
The sorta kinda comes in, in the follow-through by some of the substandard
actors and actresses on this show. I guess this is where my personal bias
comes in as well, I dunno.
The rape...I could really not give a shit what happened to Bianca, what
will happen to Bianca or anything else about Bianca for as long as she or
I live. I could’ve, had TPTB told her story without a heavy dose of PSA
consultation. Closing a set, broadcasting the dramatic beats leading up to
the closed-set scenes beforehand and throughout, and taking us into the
character’s devastation by taking a chapter from a idiot’s guide to rape
counseling (designed to evoke the desirable sympathy vote ... “It’s not
your fault!” K-DUH, dumbass!), ain’t gonna do it for me.
Watching her reluctantly squeal her secret out to Maggie last week just
about did me in. The fatal choice of keeping this crime from loved ones
Bianca knows she can trust, knowing Michael has a history of illegal acts
barely on the cutting edge of acquittal, and her own past history of
facing the unfaceable, in the face of public derision, not to mention the
actress’s weak ability to convey or compel compassion and her trademark
ticks (the squealing every time turns me off)... serve to worsen her
Besides, I’m nervous around her and Kendall. Bianca—even before her
rape—always seemed to be on the rag, ragging on any interlopers into her
precious, holy clique, with nobody criticizing or holding her responsible
for the very bad behavior in the reputed good girl. After all, Bianca’s
portrayer is forever trying to sell the good girl image, when she’s not
clarifying her off-camera status as a heterosexual. Not once, not ever,
has Bianca ever truly given Kendall a break, offered a thanks or opened
that iron-clad welcome mat as anybody other than a...pesky interloper.
Only when Lena offered her profuse gratitude at the police station, did
Bianca duly follow suit, but her hard, cold, possessive, judgmental heart
wasn’t in it.
Then, Greenlee interrupting Erica and Jack’s wedding. I wish I gave a shit
on this one too. But I merely wound up hating and resenting Greenlee’s
hard edges and petty presumptions (how the fuck’s Jack supposed to put
nine months together in the face of Mary’s lies, be psychic?!), as well as
the actress’s overrated bitter angry tears act.
Which made it all the more difficult to fathom how Greenlee could attract
the advances of even the most desperate man, besides her obvious
physicality. Still, her mean spirit leaks through as too much black
eyeliner and mascara, no lips, stringy hair and a penchant for girly
sundresses with a slutty backdrop. As she pummeled Juan Pablo with her
Rich & Handsome questionnaire, under the guise of romantic promise, I kept
thinking to myself, “God, she is so repulsive, caustic and shallow, she’s
like this aging Hollywood harlot with too many perms, run Juan Pablo,
run!” And as she pummeled the wedding crowd with her usual patented
Greenlee humiliates, baits and assaults when they’re down for the count,
“Bitch, just drop dead and fuck yourself, no wonder nobody wanted to claim
you as their own.”
With these two, Rebecca Budig’s Greenlee and Eden Riegel’s Bianca, I can
always see them act, from the outset, manipulating the situation and the
pauses to their full Emmy nominated advantage, reverting to types, only
one layer to be had. Nowhere in their histrionics and verbal wizardry,
complete with stupid bitchy eye roll, is there any convincing,
understandable, relatable balance of vulnerability, hesitation...the real
emotions they’ve been forced to hide.
A few crocodile tears graveside or squealing like a pig in Maggie’s ear,
yeah, right, give me a call when they’ve graduated from acting class.
But hey, almost everybody who’s anybody in Pine Valley stood around
awkwardly reacting to Greenlee’s public outburst and Erica’s suave
backpedaling, an extravaganza of fashion, gossip and suspense, i.e., the
reason we wake up in the morning to watch our love in the afternoon.
And sure enough, when Bianca spills some more with her squeals, almost
everybody who’s anybody in Pine Valley will give a shit enough to go after
the Most Wanted Man, Michael Cambias.
Will this be a new and improved, c/o Megan McTavish, however?
As far as I can tell, she’s doing the same things the previous regime had
to drum up ratings and buzz, include as many of the populace in storylines
that focus on interaction, community and camaraderie, speak to the wider
populace watching, with experiences and challenges waiting to be explored
and used as inspirational fodder, while putting her own individual
(residual) stamp on AMC, with the mass firing of former newcomers and the
mass hiring of her own hand-picked newcomers – instead of working with the
quality she inherited.
Frankly, it’d take a monkey to fuck AMC up at this point.