Our Latest Soap Opera Digest Column
After the jump, our column that appeared in the November 11th issue of Soap Opera Digest. This month, Mallory asks "Where is the love?" on All My Children and General Hospital, and gets that terrible Black Eyed Peas song stuck in her head, while Becca looks for an excuse to go back to summer camp to get out of watching the slow and repetitive and slow and repetitive Days of Our Lives and General Hospital.
By Mallory Harlen
Soap operas are routinely mocked by the nonsoap-watching public for their overdramatic reaction shots, bringing people back from the dead and steamy love scenes between star-crossed lovers. I think we can all agree that the last accusation is completely baseless, because daytime these days is practically romance deficient.
It says a lot about GENERAL HOSPITAL that the show’s alleged premier couple, Sonny and Kate, have been torn apart for a second time this year following Kate getting shot because of her closeness to Sonny. It says things like “baffling” and “ludicrous”, amongst other, less family magazine-friendly phrases. Kate is far too promising a character to be stuck in the rut that all of Sonny’s love interests fall into: getting put second behind the mob, being lied to and/or cheated on and getting shot. Sonny hasn’t been worth that aggravation since before Stone died. I know that couples have to experience some form of angst, but the GH writers should be made aware that angst always doesn’t need to involve a hail of bullets. Less violent, but equally problematic, is the push to pair Nadine and Nikolas. Ignoring the fact that we already saw Nikolas and a squeaky-clean good girl fall in love, I have a hard time buying that Nikolas would have the patience to deal with Nadine, let alone embark on a relationship with her. I am having a hard time with Nadine in general, actually: I think the writers are going for “cute and naïve” but wound up in “painfully stupid” territory. Surely there has to be a better romantic partner for the young, handsome prince.
ALL MY CHILDREN at least tries to write romances, but the show seems to have just given up on writing new stories and is working off of old scripts. How many times have we seen the “noble guy falls for a hooker with a heart of gold” story? Too many, and neither Frankie nor Randi are interesting enough to bring anything new to it. Petey and Colby embarking on the tried and true “Children of rivals fall for each other” track is saved solely by Daniel Kennedy (Petey), who is charming, and funny and probably the most amusing character on canvas. But even those tropes are less painful to watch than another interminable round of “Keep Kendall and Zach unhappy, since happy means boring”. AMC writers, here is a piece of friendly advice: happy isn’t boring. Years worth of contrived turmoil to make sure a couple isn’t happy for even two consecutive episodes? That’s boring. Kendall and Zach have dealt with serial killers, dying children, infidelity, being trapped in bomb shelters and now the forced drama of Zach being the father of Bianca’s baby. Keeping them apart with over-the-top obstacles isn’t making me hope that they find their way back to each other—it’s making me wonder what else could possibly happen to these two.
ABC Daytime may have staked its reputation years ago as the place for “Love in the afternoon”, but it is sorely lacking on that front in 2008.
My Take, Too
By Becca Thomas
I started watching DAYS OF OUR LIVES when I was in the sixth grade, and my father was appalled. He didn’t like TV in general, but soap operas? Oh dear, no. His biggest complaint – other than that I should instead be riding my bike or reading – was how slowly the shows moved. When I was 14, I was distressed at having to go to summer camp for three weeks because of all that I would miss, and he thought that was hilarious: “You could be gone for ten years and come back and the same stories would be on.” I thought this was outrageous parental disregard for something of the utmost importance in my life. There was so much happening! I would miss everything! (Ah, the drama of being a teenager.)
But as of right now, as a regular viewer of DAYS and GENERAL HOSPITAL, I must say, my dad was right. Nothing is happening on my shows. Well, that’s not fair. There are a few things happening, it’s just they are the exact things that have happened before, and for the most part they were boring the first time and not less so on the second (or 15th) go-around.
On DAYS, honestly, it is difficult to discern what’s going on, but it all seems familiar and molasses-paced. The object of EJ’s affection changes every other scene. Phillip randomly declares that he’s in love with Chloe. Sami has 87 different conversations and dreams about the fact that she’s going to have a DiMera baby (something that is drained of its drama by the fact that, hello, she already has one). People have lots of conversations about Trent Robbins’s murder, none of which are remotely interesting, probably because the writers didn’t give Trent any layers when he was alive so viewers don’t care that he’s dead.
A week goes by without a single notable thing happening. The dialogue is certainly better than the dark years of high camp and stupid, over-the-top tales, but is there a rule that you can’t have decent dialogue that actually makes sense in the larger context of a storyline and involves the forward movement of at least one plot? And while I’m questioning rules, who instituted the one that has James Scott and Jay Kenneth Johnson constantly wearing shirts?
My accusing GH of being repetitive has itself become repetitive, but really, if the show doesn’t give me anything new, I don’t see why I should have to come up with a fresh complaint. And GH’s redundancy comes in the form of gratuitous violence and mobster-worship, which makes it even worse than DAYS. The show’s inability to make the Jason and Elizabeth pairing engaging – despite a ton of character history and actors’ chemistry that is off the charts – combined with reusing the exact mob storylines from six months ago are two of the latest signs that the behind-the-scenes team is officially out of ideas.
I guess basically, what I’m saying is, can someone please send me to camp for a few weeks so I can get out of watching these boring shows? I know I won’t have missed anything when I come back.