Two different worlds we live in two different worlds
                                                    Song lyrics by Don Rondo 

I am not talking about Carlos and Greenlee. Or Simone and Lena. I am talking about watching AMC these days. I feel like I am viewing, if not living, in two different worlds. I will be enjoying All My Children telling me interesting stories filled with wonderful performances. Suddenly my screen will be filled with women, who used to be smart, giggling about being in heat 24/7. To add insult to injury, these women must interrupt their dialogue on a regular basis to give infomercials about voting in the Sleaziest, oops, I mean, Sexiest Man in America contest. 

How is this possible? My theory is that the enjoyable AMC is being written by Megan McTavish and a staff of professional writers. The sophomoric and puerile AMC is being written by marketing interns at ABC. Interns who have no clue what it is women really want.  

What this woman wants is what I got this past Friday-drama, humor, family, friends, happiness, pain, and surprise. Good dialogue and good performances.  

Last fall, when Mary Smythe left the Valley, she left behind many unanswered questions. For one, does she have constant headaches from that clanging jewelry? And for another, exactly what was her relationship with Jackson? The first answer remains a mystery. We know the second answer now. They were young, in love and she was soon pregnant. Mary then made the ill-fated decision to marry faux millionaire Roger Smythe.  Don’t you just hate it when the pool boy turns out to be the real millionaire?  

And what better place to reveal Greenlee’s true parentage than at Jackson’s and Erica’s wedding? Everyone in town was there, so it saves Jackson having to buy “ happy new addition to the family” announcements. 

It was kind of a bummer day for Erica, what with having her blackmail scheme revealed. Sort of took the starch out of the ruffles down her dress, didn’t it? 

It is hard for me to feel sorry for Erica though. Why? Because in Mary, Erica finally has a worthy opponent. A challenged Erica is always a much more interesting Erica. Mary is a self-serving bitch, but Anna Stuart makes her a compelling self-serving bitch. I hope she stays around for a long time. After all, Adam needs a new playmate. 

It was impossible not to feel sorry for Greenlee. She has had an awful year. Her father was killed at her wedding, her beloved Leo was murdered by his mother, her brother-in-law hit on her and she was trapped overnight in Laceys with Carlos.  

And yet she had the backbone to get out of bed and start a cosmetics company.  

And now she discovers that the very flawed Roger was not her biological father. The not-nearly-as-flawed Jackson Montgomery is. That her childhood could have been completely different, maybe even happy, had Mary found the courage to tell the truth.  

And that once Mary decided to tell the truth, Erica blackmailed her into keeping silent. And finally, the pain of discovering her best friend Kendall knew the truth but kept it from her. 

No wonder she was furious. I loved the scenes where tiny Greenlee commanded the attention of the entire room. Her energy was so fierce they could only watch as she revealed the lie, piece by piece. And later, at the cemetery, I confess to quicktears as she vented her fury on Roger’s tombstone. 

A stellar performance from Rebecca Budig from beginning to end. It is good to see her getting well written material once again. 

Everyone gave good performances at the non-wedding. From Jamie trying hard not to laugh out loud, to Tad realizing he was going to have to answer for his part in the cover-up. The clueless minister. A befuddled Reggie who nonetheless stood by his new father. Poor Bianca who struggled so hard to keep it together for her mother’s perfect day, only to have that day fall apart. Erica believing that by sheer force of her will she could make all the “unpleasantness” go away. And Jackson, who was compassionate, though confused, with Greenlee throughout the whole debacle. 

All in all, it was a perfect AMC day. 

And this paternal reveal is not the only compelling story. I have said before that I hate rape stories. I hate the fact that Bianca was raped. I hate the fact that as the only lesbian lead character in daytime, Bianca seems doomed to have a tragic life. Somehow I don’t think this is what Agnes Nixon had in mind when she pushed ABC to allow Bianca to be gay. 

Bianca is not perfect. She is willful and spoiled and quite often very much her mother’s daughter. I have enjoyed the fact that in having Bianca be gay they did not also make her a saint. But why is she so often the victim? 

Eden Riegel has been riveting this past few weeks. Especially in her scenes with Maggie. There was no noise in that one scene except Bianca’s voice was very powerful. And Maggie repeating the mantra, “It wasn’t your fault. You did nothing wrong.” Giving that scene a full nine minutes without interruption heightened its weight.  

Elizabeth Hendrickson was also wonderful in those scenes. Just as with Rebecca Budig, it was good to see her finally get some well-written believable material. 

The best thing about all the Bianca/Maggie scenes was the way they conveyed the power and strength that is the basis of the best female friendships. 

Which, unfortunately, leads to the sophomoric portion of our program.  

Fusion seemed like such a good idea. Women working together creating something from nothing. Learning about themselves and each other along the way. I like Greenlee, Kendall, and Mia. Simone was becoming tolerable, even likable, to me. Then someone had the bright idea that it was not enough to have Fusion be about sexy smart women. It suddenly had to be about women who wanted sex, needed sex, thought about nothing but sex. Someone confused women in their 20s with boys in their teens.( I am not saying women do not think about sex. Women think about sex a lot. We are however blessed with the ability to think of other things as well, even while thinking about sex.) Then they threw Carlos in the mix. Carlos, who isone of the most poorly conceived characters in AMC history. (For my complete take on Carlos, see my previous AMC column). 

Fusion once seemed like a real contender in the cosmetics industry. Now it seems like a joke. A bad joke. A bad joke combined with a reality TV series. The actresses and we, as viewers, deserve better.  

All My Schmattes 

Erica’s wedding turned out to be about as far from heavenly as it could get. Several of the wedding outfits however, clearly were inspired by the movie Far From Heaven.  Opal’s mango shantung shirtwaist dress over a tight skirt was pure 50s,as was her starburst brooch. In the fifties it would have been called a brooch, not a pin. Both Myrtle’s and Ruth’s suits were tailored very much on the suits women wore shopping (!) or to church in the 50s. Anna’s sheath was very vintage made modern by the strong cuff bracelet. In my next life I intend to dress like the Devane sisters.

And the bridesmaid dresses were very reminiscent of the Truman/Eisenhower era. How do I know this? Because, with very slight modifications, Kendall was wearing the dress my mother wore to marry my father. They were married at the Brookfield Country Club in Clarence, New York in 1950.  The taupey cafe au lait color, the lace, the tight waist, the long sleeves, the skirt length were almost exact duplicates. Bianca and Kendall looked exquisitely elegant.

I wish I could say the same about Erica. She seemed to have wandered in from a different wedding. Bridesmaids’ dresses are usually evocative of the bride’s dress, but not in this case.  Perhaps if the bottom of Erica’s dress had been the same color as the waist ribbons on her daughters’ dresses. Perhaps if the front of her dress had the same lace instead of those floppy ruffles. (What is it with Erica having things hanging off the front of her dress? I still cannot get that black dress with the linguine hanging off the front out of my mind.)

Ah well, maybe at her next wedding to Jack the outfits will be better coordinated.

I was disappointed in Brooke’s dress. It would have been appropriate for a winter cocktail party, not an afternoon summer wedding.

At first I thought I did not like Joni’s outfit. After thinking about it I realized she doing her best to look sophisticated for her first Erica Kane wedding.  

But what in the world possessed Jamie to come dressed as Engelbert Humperdink? 

A Few AMC things: 

1.  This paternity revelation story is making me miss Roger even more than  I usually do. I can imagine him trying to work this to his own advantage, perhaps even expecting some sort of financial compensation for all those years he did duty as Greenlee’s father. And still there would be those moments when he would truly regret that she was not his daughter.

2.   How could there be an Erica Kane wedding without Donald Steele?

3.   Why is Mia involved in the humiliating Fusion bet? Didn’t Liza give her sister a share of the company when Fusion first started?

4.   Has someone locked Edmund and Maria in the attic with Sammy?

5.   Aiden is more fun now that he is not in every scene, every day.

6.   And finally, does Liza really think playing “cute” works for her? 

As always, I look forward to hearing what you think about our favorite show.

A Cynic Soaps Up - AMC - June 9, 2003

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AMC Spoilers and Commentary by Kate Brown

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