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« Introducing Our New Guest Blogger, Louise! | Main | Countdown to the Emmys: Day 7 »

August 28, 2009

These Days, One Life To Live

Guest blogger Louise shares her take on OLTL these days, and all of the soapy goodness that comes with it. A good ABC soap? Our minds are blown.

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It’s spent much of its life languishing at the bottom of the ABC Daytime ratings (that is, since the retirement of the pre-AMC half-hour slot once occupied by Loving/The City/Port Charles). It’s suffered from some seriously embarrassing missteps (Eterna, the city beneath Llantano Mountain; out-of-body adventures; not one but TWO lengthy time-travel storylines in just the past two decades). It’s rewritten some of our most cherished show memories (Viki and Clint’s first child wasn’t really such a joy-- Jessica was actually Mitch Lawrence’s daughter and Viki’s naughty alter actually came out to give birth to Jessica’s twin-by-a-different-dad-we-swear-it’s-medically-possible Natalie!). It’s somehow survived some of the most bizarre re-castings in history (Blair was originally Asian-American and now she’s a tough-talkin’ Texan blonde?).

Blairrecast

It’s also been wildly overlooked at times, despite spectacular moves like regularly casting Broadway stars and other thespian greats and sweeps stunts that don’t include giant mob shootouts or hostage situations or bad weather crises (okay, there was that one tornado that crashed down on a mid-coital Kelly and her stepson), but instead showcased their talent (who caught that live week? That was amazing!).

But I’ve noticed the critics and the fans alike have started to really make it known that One Life to Live is currently one of the best things daytime has to offer. Women over forty are allowed to be leading ladies, racial diversity is allowed in this fictional soap town, major events have an impact that lasts more than a week, no one is glorifying violence, and history doesn’t get rewritten or forgotten on a daily basis. The canvas is chock-full of this weird little thing that there’s not much of in ABC Daytime these days: flawed but sympathetic characters. People who are human, not superhumanly good or superhumanly evil. And no one, thankfully, who randomly does a complete turnaround overnight in one direction or the other.

So now that I’ve put my bias out on the table and made it clear that it’s just not possible for me to write a hilarious, scathing missive lamenting the show’s demise (it’s better than it’s been in years – and I’m willing to forgive relatively-new Head Writer Ron Carlivati for that time-travel story since he has since given INSANE payoff to long-time viewers in myriad other ways) let’s talk OLTL in the current day.

Everyone has stories they enjoy more than others, and it’s something OLTL balances well by having about 30 stories rotating at one time so that no one gets so angry at the worst storyline that they get no escape. That said, no matter which other stories bore or irritate you, I think we can all agree that the Shane/Gigi/Stacy/Rex storyline is currently the worst thing going.

Cryingstacy

 Refreshingly, Stacy The Maniacal Bitch is getting to be a little more fun thanks to the arrival of Trashy Kim. A good soapy villain only works when we get to watch the plotting and the plots-in-action, and before Kim showed up, we only got to see Stacy talking to herself diabolically and weeping incessantly. (And for crap’s sake can they get Crystal Hunt some waterproof mascara? Her eyes are already painfully over-made-up, but to have to watch close-ups of that sludge trickling down her face – well, the OLTL folks haven’t earned that much good will from us.) Despite the fact that the storyline is getting somewhat less painful, I do still have to marvel that Rex has been allowed to keep his P.I. license, considering he is at all times dumb as a brick.

Good to see we’re making some progress on Tea’s big secret. Sure, most people think it’s that she had and gave up Todd’s child years ago, and I’ll be shocked if it’s anything else, but let’s get rolling on that please. Also, I am not a proponent of Todd and Tea (I adore Tea and wish they’d at least give her a shot with one other potential leading man), so I suppose that shades my thoughts on this, but is anyone else completely creeped out by smiling, romantic Todd? I don’t like it. It makes my skin crawl. It wasn’t that long ago he was holding his rape victim captive and “falling in love” with her – and somehow I was less disturbed by the “love” looks on his face then. Yikes.

Toddteablairatwedding

Which brings me to the current storyline that is boiling my guts. Todd was encouraged to follow his heart and declare his love for Tea by his new court-appointed psychologist and two-time rape victim????? I don’t even need to go into the whole “what court in the land” issue here (pretty much every decision ever made by the Llanview justice system begs that question); legal verisimilitude went out the window ages ago. But this from the ABC soap that generally appears to hate women the least? This is offensive to me on roughly one kajillion levels. I can buy that Marty and Todd have called a truce since they do share a grandchild, but intimate therapy sessions? Encouraging her rapist to “let himself be happy” and love a woman? I hope that they soon realize how sick this is and drop it.

Some other stray thoughts:

  • Is anyone else on Matthew’s side? I am. I understand his parents’ point of view, but if that operation had been available immediately following the accident, they would’ve gone for it. Every surgery risks a life; this one seems worth it, as frightening as that may be. And Alderson the Younger is shaping up to be one hell of an actor.
  • Sean/Rachel/Greg. This has potential and it has good actors; two of these actors are so obscenely hot my screen can’t take it (I should upgrade). The Dance Dance Revolution thing was freaking adorable. But don’t we already have one love triangle with two brothers in it? 
  • “Kish.”
    Kish
  • Kishkiss

    Funny that there’s a couple who already has a popular online combo name, but they haven’t even come close to being established as a couple. Can we get on with it? Poor Layla. But as for the obvious future coupling of Layla/Cris… uh, her sister was his girlfriend and is still in a coma?
  • Roxie/Kyle. My favorite platonic pairing on the show.
  • Is it Nash? Is it Nash’s long lost brother? Is it some weird unrelated stalker/good Samaritan who is appropriately irritated that Natalie and Jared got off scot-free for totally causing Nash’s death? I hope it’s the latter. He would be my hero.
  • David’s reality show. Pure comic gold.

There are about 11 storylines I haven’t even mentioned (Cole, Starr, Langston, Markko, Dorian, Marty, John, the list goes on…), but it’s only because OLTL is a veritable smorgasbord of soapy goodness. And with my luck with ABC Daytime, I’ll be eating all of these generous words tomorrow, unless of course Frons has forgotten about this one (as he’s been wont to do, and as can only be a good thing).

Comments

Welcome Louise! I'm glad I can get my OLTL fix here now!

It'll be great to have some OLTL commentary on here - Welcome!

Agree with you completely - but you left out David Vickers, I will watch any storyline he is in!

I thought nothing could make me love Serial Drama (not real serial dramas but this website, of course) more but here it is.
I agree about Matthew I and think he is old enough to decide for himself about taking the risk but... This story is a vehicle for Bo and Nora to spend time together and be close so we have to endure the "trial" for pay off's sake. FINALLY! How many years ago did they break Bo and Nora up? Well, a lot and I am ready for this story.
I hope it's Nash but only if they are faking us out by pretending Forbes March is getting a job with another soap and he is really coming back. I really liked that actor in that character. He and Bree had a lot of chemistry.
I have just never taken to this Todd. He is okay but I don't care enough to care. He can go off with anyone he wants as long as I don't have to watch one more minute of Blair wanting him. Yuck. She needs a new man like when Jax came to Port Charles/ General Hospital for Brenda. She needs a hot, nice, rich, fun new guy. And to forget about Todd.
David and all related stories are laugh out loud hilarious. I love a bit of funny on my soap.
I LOVE this show! Even with the faults I still like it more than I hate it...

Todd was encouraged to follow his heart and declare his love for Tea by his new court-appointed psychologist and two-time rape victim?????

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

WHAT! That's why I can't watch this show.

While I don't agree with your thoughts on Jared/Natalie getting off scot-free for Nash's death (they've been in back burner hell for months even though both characters are played by people who can actually act, as opposed to say ANYONE IN THIS STUPID MORASCO STORYLINE; is this indignity not punishment enough?!!), I am glad someone is covering this show now. I hope the stalker is someone like Mitch. Very scary and ties in with allusions of him last year with the Allison Perkins story. It would be like Carvalati to tie in this story with the story of Rex's true parentage. He's good in making stories connect to each other in subtle ways.

Eddie Alderson is excellent. A million times better than his overrated, overused sister. What I like about the story is I get both perspectives; his and his parents.

There's so much more I can say but it may just come off as gushing so I'll stop before it goes there.

Sorry meant to edit - Scott Clifton can act; so can Scott Evans (didn't mean to lump them with the others in the Morasco story).

"(Blair was originally Asian-American and now she’s a tough-talkin’ Texan blonde?). "

I think Kassie de Paiva is from Kentucky.

"The canvas is chock-full of this weird little thing that there’s not much of in ABC Daytime these days: flawed but sympathetic characters"

I wish they were not hidden behind Todd, Tea, Gigi, and Rex, and Stacy, all vile people constantly passed off as heroes by the writers.

Oh, and I also have to say how tired I am of OLTL reminding us of how pathetic and undeserving and happiness Blair and Dorian is.

Oh Carl,
I just can't help myself, respectfully I ask: Stacy is being passed of as a hero by the writers???????? Who on the show or in real life ever said she was even a decent person much less a hero? When writers pass someone off as a hero who isn't, the respected characters talk constantly about what a good man/woman/mother/father or whatever they are even while they are doing bad things. (See Sonny and Jason on GH) Unless I am behind more than an episode I don't recall anything but just Stacy doing bad things.
As for Gigi and Rex although not really "heros" I think they are actually "good guys"; do you really find them vile? Maybe a little dumb, but vile? I really thought the were protagonistic characters rather than vile.
Todd is pretty vile and they have had the respected characters forgive his many, many, ugly sins so maybe you could count him, but even with the forgivness I don't think they write him as a hero so much as a damaged man who treats people, even the ones he loves, badly.
I hope we can disagree in a friendly way because I don't want the first OLTL blog to get us banned!
I will agree with you that Blair deserves not to chase men who don't want her or deserve her. I would love to see a storyline for her where a wonderful man chases her!

i hate the jared and natalie get the sole blame for "killing" Nash. Nash was obviously, and rightfully, upset that he lost his vineyard but i'm pretty certian jared only ment to shove nash away from natalie, seeing as how nash already decked jared and was calling nat a tramp.

i love kyle fish!! he's so adorable and not to mention he's a good actor who i honestly believe is confused about his sexual orientation.

I think TSJ is one of the best finds OLTL has ever offered up, recast wise. He's such an underrated actor. Amd I love him and tea together.

great to see OLTL added here!! Hopefully more people will tune in to see it.

Now I have another reason to love this site--thanks for covering OLTL! Welcome Louise, I can't wait to read more.

OLTL is wonderful. Can someone say enough good things about it? What other show on daytime TV has the diversity of age, race, and sexual orientation? None!

Yes, it has its faults but it's so enjoyable.

BTW, shout out to Tika Sumpter for delivering a heartbreaking performance as Layla when her worst fears about Oliver Fish were confirmed. I hope OLTL continues to give Sumpter meatier material that allows her to flex her acting muscles.

The amount of competent storylines and the use of middle aged women, veterans, and minority characters makes me think the writers and producers have a bit of skill. When compared to the rest of ABC daytime that skill starts to look like superpowers. But, their ability to make quality stuff only makes the misogyny more painfully obvious. GH and AMC are just boring and dumb....this soap makes me sad.

Welcome Louise! So happy that OLTL is finally getting some attention!

I am thrilled OLTL is getting some love on Serial Drama, and I agree it is the best soap on ABC daytime, it is hardly perfection itself if it was we would not the Morasco Fiasco, the rapist in the middle of a Love triangle, and strong women being reduced to compete for men as their only story. Sadly being better than AMC or GH is hardly glowing praise.

Thanks so much, everyone, for being so welcoming!

Welcome Louise. I'm looking forward to your reviews. OLTL is the only soap I still watch on ABC. It has flaws, but it is so much better than GH and AMC that I tend to overlook the flaws. I did stop watching for awhile when I was inundated with the Morasco Fiasco and just gave up.

But there are some stories keeping my attention now. David Vickers Buchanan is back and only good things can come from that. :) Bo and Nora being reunited - wee. Jess and Brody have great chemistry. Gigi is finally getting some balls, but you are so right about dim Rex. When is he going to lose that PI license? Scott Clifton and he should be brothers since they both have the exact same mannerisms (I'm waiting for this ball to drop).

I'm in agreement with LauraBB (my old forum confab) on her views of OLTL.

My take on Todd is I love TSJ. I've watched old clips of RH and he was a fantastic Todd - but, how long has he been gone? TSJ is here to stay.

Also, I had to slightly disagree with your take on Todd getting on with his life. He's part of the soap canvas (years now) and so he kind of needs to grow as a character. He raped a girl in college and I think as viewers we have to get past it and realize Todd needs to either go forward or ALWAYS be the rapist. If that's the case he should be in prison and out of the soap.

But, since he's in the soap, I'd prefer to see him grow into more than the guy who raped a girl in college. IMO. It would just make the viewing more enjoyable than being reminded every freakin' s/l that he raped someone.

His taking Marty and the rapemance was done well, believe it or not, only because you saw Todd's psychological problems and his breaking once again. His daughter - his little girl had sex for the first time and something snapped.

It all tied in really well IMO. I may not have approved of what he did, but darker stories are like that: they make you think.

I like Todd, and he is the chara you love to hate. I also like Tea, despite her crying constantly. I'm a fan of TnT and can't stand Blair with Todd. I am terrified they will go backward and do this.

I'm with LauraBB on that, as well, and I hope Blair finally gets a guy that pursues and wants her and stops this childish game of wanting Todd. It's making her character just become childish and over-the-top stupid.

I love the Kish story. I didn't like the way Layla says the word "Gay" like it's a dirty word. It's kind of irritating too.

The actor portraying Fish as the conflicted gay man is doing a GREAT job on this s/l. It probably helps he is gay in real life.

I'm almost rooting for Kimmy's return to be because she has feelings for Stacy. At least, Stacy would find someone who actually "wants" to be with her. It might make Stacy and Kimmy more interesting too. And they allow them to kiss on this show - unlike Otalia where all we get are freaky glances of longing that look painful and awkward. It might be nice to get a lesbian couple on the canvas since Carlivati obviously knows how to handle gay storylines.

Viva la Stimmy! :D lol

Overall, I enjoyed your review Louise. Thanks. :)

V, I completely agree with you about Todd and I think he's been a very compelling character over the years (love him or hate him -- and I've done both). I just think they need to keep him out of Marty's orbit, especially since her rape in college is still having a huge impact on her personal life. Are they low on therapists in Llanview? They shouldn't be, they are all in dire need!

Many thanks to Becca, Mal, and Louise for bringing OLTL into the fold! :) Warning: this comment will be long. I have to first off agree with Helen - OLTL may be ABC's best right now, but saying a show is better than AMC or GH doesn't make it great.

There are currently only two storylines that hold my interest right now: Viki/Dorian mayoral stuff and Kish. It's great to see Viki and Dorian front-burner and driving the story ahead. How long have we had to watch these great women play victims, fawn over a man, or just generally be disregarded and debased? I'm loving this. And I'm also interested to see which aunt Starr will side with. And yay for Charlie getting something to do! Other than look cute, that is.

Kish has been interesting too, despite being heavily mixed in with some duds (anything Stacy, Cristian - though he has been more likeable in recent weeks than I've seen him in years). Nuke and Otalia both started strong and then fizzled when CBS got cold feet - I am hoping that Kish's story continues with the same quality that they've given us so far (writing wise, that is. I have no doubt in Brett Claywell's or Scott Evans' respective acting abilities).

me again - I told you this would be long...

The rest of the show, honestly, I either loath or ignore. I can't stand Todd or TSJ, and FF his scenes without fail. I like Tea, and Blair (both actresses are amazing in my book) but I wish to the soap gods that they would get out of Todd's orbit for good.

I have to wonder what we viewers have done to deserve the punishment that is Stacy Morasco. I can't stand her, I can't stand Kim, and I can't stand that they continue to have her interact with actors/characters that are some of my favorites (namely Skyler - Scott Clifton is great!) I feel like I need a shower just listening to Stacy and Kim's scenes. Seriously, are there no women writing OLTL now? Nevermind that, did all of the writers sleep through sex ed in school? There are so many things wrong with this pregnancy fiasco I wouldn't know where to start - and I'm not even in the medical profession! (and nevermind that this story is a blatant ripoff of Jen using Al to get pregnant to hold on to Cris - in this exact same apartment no less).

I must be the only person that dislikes David's "comic" storyline. And I've always liked Tuc Watkins so much, too. Go figure.

The rest of the storylines going are, IMHO, boring, uninteresting, or just past the point of making me care (Bo and Nora, I'm looking at you). But I've been watching this show for sixteen years, so I'm not ready to give up quite yet.

oh i'm so glad to have some OLTL commentary! this post was great. and i'm so OVER rex and gigi.

Welcome, Louise! YAY for OLTL coverage on my fave soapblog!

Hurray for OLTL coverage!!! Great job, Louise! Hope to read more soon!

So excited to read about OLTL. I actually started watching because of Gigi/Rex when it was still unresolved sexual chemistry. The actress who plays gigi though is terrible, made worse but how good Scott Clifton is.

Also, I love David and everything that he does. Ever.

Glad to have you here!

I agree, this is the only soap worth watching on abc, and this is coming from a life-long GH person. Yay OLTL!

I also agree that Jared and Natalie totally deserved the flack they got about Nash's death. I just do not understand why Natalie and John were split up - I now can't stand John AT ALL - and am only barely warming up to Jared. The actress who plays Natalie has always been awesome though.

I am totally developing a crush on little Dillon Quartermaine. Scott Clifton is great now that he's on a show that doesn't suck... And now that he's hot.

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