These Days, One Life To Live
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?).
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.
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.
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?
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).