Our Latest Soap Opera Digest Column
By Becca Thomas
Every year, I make the same new year’s resolutions. And 98% of the time, I don’t keep them. But I continue to make them. Why? Tradition, I suppose. For probably the same reason, at this time of year I map out changes I’d like to see on my soaps. I’ve given up on the really crazy ones (like that GENERAL HOSPITAL should be less violent and mob-centric, or that DAYS OF OUR LIVES should have consistent quality for more than three months), but I still have some smaller-scale hopes for 2010.
On GH, while I have given up hope that Port Charles will stop revolving around the mob, I do hope that there are at least some consequences for the mobsters this year. The only reasons I’m remotely optimistic are: 1) the reveal of Dante (whom I adore, by the way) as Sonny’s son would be hard, even in the hands of a writing team that clearly worships Sonny’s homicidal self, to conclude with anything other than some anti-Mafia reflections and happenings, and 2) I don’t learn lessons very well and have forgotten the 738 other opportunities for such consequences that have already passed by.
More realistically, I hope 2010 sees more of the episodes centered around karaoke nights at Jake’s, or similar setups. Those were easily the best of GH in 2009, and that kind of cast interaction and escapism is exactly what GH needs. More of Robin and Patrick as something other than back-burnered medical Nancy Drews would be nice, as would an actual storyline for Patrick’s brother Matt. More screen time for Diane and Alexis’s almost uniformly delightful and entertaining friendship, and an actual romance for Alexis with someone who isn’t a sociopath, would be great too.
Sadly, due to a string of terrible couplings of late, much of what I hope for GH is that couples split up, permanently: Jax and Carly. Spinelli and Maxie. Nikolas and Liz. Sonny and…whoever he’s dating (by which I mean emotionally abusing and/or impregnating). This show used to be great at creating fabulous couples. Lately it’s difficult to think of even one that’s worth watching in any episode.
DAYS definitely has couples that are so irksome or boring they make my fast-forwarding finger twitch (including Daniel and Chloe, plus all of the ones involving people under 21), but overall it seems to be on a better-paced and more entertaining path than it was a year ago. There is still plenty of room for improvement, though.
Salem could use its own version of Diane and Alexis. The town needs more professional women, and more adult friendships. With the many veteran exits in recent years, the writers don’t seem to have focused much on building non-romantic relationships among the established couples who are left, let alone the newcomers. And while I truly, sincerely appreciate the array of gorgeous 30-something men in town, they need more age-appropriate romantic interests. Seeing Phillip pursue a barely-out-of-her-teens Melanie is cringe-worthy, but understandable given the dearth of alternatives.
I know it seems like I’m asking a lot of my shows in 2010, but year is a long time. You can accomplish a lot of new year’s resolutions. I don’t, but hypothetically one can!
My Take, Too
By Mallory Harlen
It’s the start of the new year, and I am hoping that ALL MY CHILDREN and YOUNG AND RESTLESS take advantage of this time and fix some of their shows’ substantial flaws. They probably don’t think of them as flaws, exactly, but they are. I mean that in the most polite way possible.
AMC has told a handful of “Someone’s dead/dying! Just kidding, not really” stories in the past year with Greenlee, Baby Trevor and now David. How creatively bankrupt are they? I know, I know: very. David’s latest ploy, pretending to be dying of cancer in order to get closer to Amanda, is incredibly stupid. As a nefarious mastermind, he should be above poorly conceived stunts like that, especially since we’ve seen him be complex in his evilness before. But I guess he’s thinking, why exert himself in thinking of a clever plan when Amanda is gullible and dim enough to believe anything he throws at her? The writing for Amanda is so all over the place and terrible, that I spend entire episodes feeling sorry for Chrishell Stause for having to make that work. I know Trevor’s just an infant, but he needs to become an emancipated minor, stat.
As much as I’d love to ignore all Carey-related stories, I can’t, and I’m beginning to wonder if Marissa is ever going to be given an actual personality. I know she’s supposed to be the show’s “good girl”, but all she does is smile pleasantly, no matter what horrible circumstances she finds herself in. She was sold at birth? Pleasant smile. Husband has cancer? Pleasant smile. She is creepily living the life of her dead twin sister? Pleasant smile. I’d like to see some sort of evidence that she’s not actually a robot.
Y&R has to make a long overdue decision: is Adam an evil supervillain, or is he a complicated man who’s made some terrible mistakes? Obviously, since he gaslighted Ashley, gave Ashley Sharon’s baby and made Sharon think her baby was dead, it would be easy to assume that he’s a supervillain, but much of the time, the show presents him as merely flawed. It’s hugely difficult for me to sit through tender, sweet scenes between Adam and Sharon knowing the truth about Adam. And what’s especially disappointing is that Michael Muhney and Sharon Case work so well together. I just wish they had a chance to do so without this story’s grotesque undertones.
One of my yearly pleas is “More Jess Walton, I beg you!” and that’s still a wish of mine. I have high hopes for her involvement with Tucker McCall (and I am so looking forward to her working with Stephen Nichols: a pretty, talented, age appropriate couple? Can’t wait!), but it seems like the show always hints at some big story for Jill before inevitably dropping it to focus on such exciting stories as “Daniel in trouble with the law, again, some more” and “Noah and Eden talk about things”. Walton, and the audience, deserves better than that.