“It’s called ALL My Children, and it is”
On Friday, January 16, I saw five women of various ages – none below 30 – together in one room of one mansion doing what women of various ages do: bitch, gossip, attack, commiserate, defend children, be catty, joke around at other people’s expense: Liza, Marian, Mary, Opal and Krystal.
I thought I was in a time warp, circa 1970s-80s.
“All My Children” just happens to be my first soap opera and my first experience with American culture, lured to its airwaves at a tender age of six by my mother, who herself learned to speak English and go diva through Erica Kane.
Fittingly, it is AMC which remains true to its soap opera roots to this day, in an age when the others, most notably “General Hospital,” have succumbed to isolated cliques and supercouple ruts, where interaction, ensemble and veteran are bad words taking on mythic proportions.
For instance, can you imagine Bobbie, Monica, Leslie, Skye and Tracy together in one room of one mansion bitching and snarking about men, women and children, while the men are in another room threatening and blackmailing and colluding – without Sonny Corinthos or Jason Morgan to make it all about them?
I can’t either.
As I relished the sitcom-drama unfolding before me, decades of history behind every line of in-character dialogue, the wit and parry, the announcement and the reaction, of a typical day in the life of AMC’s Pine Valley residents, I wondered too why TPTB couldn’t do the same for GH and OLTL.
The missing element of familiar, comfortable, age-old friends, enemies and lovers gathering around to conspire, unite and reflect age-old community and humanity interaction ails these other ABC Daytime soaps for reasons beyond my ability to fathom.
The same bosses run the shows, as far as I know. For the most part, it’s the same core cast of able veterans and promising newcomers set against the same backgrounds of a faux-all-Middle-American town.
Even the head writer’s the same. Megan McTavish has helmed stories on both GH and OLTL at some point in recent time. I can’t believe her relatively new presence on AMC alone contributed to the improved strengthening of real soap opera and its main facets (ensemble, interaction, heavy use of vets, judicial use of qualified newbies). The new executive producer Julie Hanan Carruthers comes from “Port Charles,” who brought isolationism to ugly lows, so she ain’t been helpin’ diddly. (Besides, the show has rarely if ever faltered far from the basic precept of keeping veterans hot in on the action with as many in one room as possible just doing their thing, even under previous EP Jean Dadario Burke.)
Maybe there are invisible sub-presidents of ABC Daytime really in charge of the individual soaps, and the one behind AMC is a true soap fan from way back. Maybe somebody in the AMC list of credits has a few damaging photos of the bosses’ bosses involving goats and Paris Hilton.
Or, maybe the isolation and the cliques found rampant on GH and OLTL are purposeful on TPTB’s parts.
In the 90s, break-out stars emerged from GH, propelling story in a whole new direction infamously known as the sizzling triangle. You know who I mean: S/B/J, handsome, sexy Sonny loves beautiful, sexy Brenda, so does handsome, sexy Jax, Brenda can’t decide, pleasurable perfect image becomes everything, message boards explode with daily fan-based fighting and subterfuge, heralding the end of an era of passive soap viewing and the debut of an era of the active soap fan lobbyist.
After O.J. reduced soap numbers further, reality-TV took over airwaves and dwindling interests, the makers of this serial drama had to find a hook, or die sinking. They naturally glommed onto what worked, seemingly by accident, the pairing of hot actors with flammable chemistry, to hell with character history, character background, character motivation and character story.
This kind of parasitic thinking resulted in misfires, such as throwing Carly and Sonny together in a night of sudden S&M insanity, throwing Jason out with the baby, and reinventing history just to keep these two together. Nobody much cared whether they could work in the long run, given the fact that both Carly and Sonny expressed nothing but repulsion and hatred for each other, or that Jason had been painstakingly building a unique renewed life with Carly’s baby boy.
Then, you had travesties. Turning A.J. into a stalker just so Courtney could be free to shake her ta-tas at Jason who uncharacteristically—without a clue aforethought—fell for her everyday ordinary blah blonde damsel in distress act (Felicia would’ve been better and made more sense), and further uncharacteristically married her (when he wouldn’t even give nuptials a second thought with his far greater love Robin or more promising complex Elizabeth). ...Simply because ABC Daytime president Brian Frons liked the way Courtney and Jason looked together.
Frons is doing it again with the intolerable Nu Emily and Old Nikolas. He recently spouted to the press about how great these two looked together and wanted to accentuate that hot young image by dressing them up in pirate and princess costumes. Never mind that Natalia Livingston can’t act and Tyler Christopher requires a good actress to act remotely better than average. Or that in order to insta-pair these two beautiful people together, volatile, sensitive, singularly complex Zander had to be sacrificed, along with the horrific insult of a cancer PSA. Or that there’s no substantive story that involves as many core characters as possible to speak of.
They talk about the budget crunch, less (vet) is more, more (cheap newbie) is better and a whole lot of contradictory nonsense [note to manager Michael Bruno: Shut up and let SOD columnist Carolyn Hinsey school ya boy], while AMC, for the most part remains intact, a real and true soap opera in every sense of the word, where beloved veterans Ray MacDonnell (Joe), David Canary (Adam/Stuart), James Mitchell (Palmer), Susan Lucci (Erica), Michael E. Knight (Tad), Marcy Walker (Liza), Walt Willey (Jackson), Anna Stuart (Mary), Jennifer Bassey (Marian), Julia Barr (Brooke), Bobbie Eakes (Krystal), John Callahan (Edmund), Vincent Irizarry (David), Jill Larson (Opal) still get to play with future veterans the likes of Rebecca Budig (Greenlee), Alicia Minshew (Kendall), Terri Ivens (Simone), Michael B. Jordan (Reggie), Eden Riegel (Bianca), Tomy Dunster (Juan Pablo), Cameron Mathison (Ryan), Olga Sosnovska (Lena)... Christ, that’s almost the entire cast.
I get to see Tad still sparring with his arch rival David, while giving a little on the subject of Adam harassing and setting Erica up for Michael Cambias’s murder, and with Palmer, the three of them ganging up on the old buzzard—all in one room!
I get to see Opal drawling to younger (but not by much) doppelganger Krystal to stay away from her ex- and her boy Tad while she’s at it. Krystal toying with the jealous twangs of Opal and Liza, and mother cub Marian, who’s just about had it with snobby, disingenuous boy stealer Mary.
Who the heck cares about the father of Babe’s babe?
I just can’t believe this tight, uber-talented cast gets to play together at all.
Not when, just around the corner, I see Sonny and Jason hyperventilating at another wreck Carly has made in the name of love and lust by a bullet. Yeah, THEM again.
Can AMC share those pictures with GH and OLTL, please?
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